The British government officially confirms the lifting of the fracking ban

LONDON (AP) – The UK government on Thursday officially confirmed it was lifting a ban on fracking in England, arguing the move will help improve the country’s energy security amid the Russian war in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Liz Truss announced days after taking office earlier this month that she would reverse a 2019 ban on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial technique used to extract oil and gas from shale rock.

The UK needs to “explore all the opportunities available to us through solar, wind, oil and gas – so it is right that we have lifted the pause to exploit potential sources of domestic gas,” said Economy and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg on Thursday.

Truss said she “won’t do anything that poses a risk,” but stressed that “energy security is critical.”

The UK government halted fracking in November 2019, saying it was not possible to accurately predict the tremors associated with drilling.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said lifting the ban meant future applications would be considered “where there is local support”. Developers must have the required licenses and permissions before they can begin operations.

Environmental groups have long opposed the practice of fracking, saying it’s not an effective way to generate energy, doesn’t help lower soaring energy bills, and is opposed by communities wherever it’s attempted.

“Even with the government going all out for shale, the frackers produced no energy for Britain but managed to create two holes in a muddy field, traffic, noise and a colossal amount of controversy,” said Philip Evans, energy security campaigner at Greenpeace.

A government-commissioned review of the risks of shale gas exploration by the British Geological Survey was inconclusive, saying more data was needed. Officials argued that the “limited current understanding of UK geology and onshore shale resources” should not be a barrier to fracking.

“It is clear that we need to drill more sites to gather better data and improve the evidence base, and we recognize that some developers are keen to help with this process,” the statement said Economic department of the government.

“The lifting of the pause in shale gas exploration will allow drilling to gather this further data, build an understanding of the UK’s shale gas resources and demonstrate how we can safely conduct shale gas exploration in the UK where there is local support.”

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