Rishi Sunak has reinstated a ban on fracking in England, in a reversal of his predecessor Liz Truss’ policy.
- New prime minister reverses government decision on fracking.
- While fracking could deliver oil and gas, economic cost and length of time of development would mean little to no impact on the energy crisis.
- Given the current energy crisis, and that its net zero strategy has been deemed unlawful, the government has a lot of work to do.
The new PM has been facing MPs at the dispatch box today in his maiden outing since taking over from Liz Truss on Tuesday in the top job.
Green MP Caroline Lucas asked him whether would “reverse the green light she gave to fracking, since it has categorically not been shown to be safe, and instead maintain the moratorium that was pledged in that very manifesto that he has promised to uphold?”
In reply, Sunak said he “stand(s) by the manifesto” which the Conservatives were elected on in 2019 which pledged to maintain the ban on fracking.
Downing Street has since confirmed the ban is being reinstated.
Liz Truss last month reversed the ban, with then energy secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg saying it was in the national interest and would make the country richer.
Mr Sunak told the Commons: “I’ve already said I stand by the manifesto on that.
“But what I would say is that I’m proud that this government has passed the landmark Environment Act, putting more protection for the natural environment than we’ve ever had with a clear plan to deliver.
“I can give the honourable lady my commitment that we will deliver on all those ambitions, we will deliver on what we said at COP, because we care deeply about passing our children an environment in a better state than we found it ourselves.”
Moratoriums on fracking have remained in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Wind, nuclear, renewables
Energy policy was the opening issue Rishi Sunak faced in his first ever session of prime minister’s questions.
Labour MP Alan Whitehead asked the new PM whether he would reverse his campaign pledge to block further onshore wind development in England as it is “now the cheapest form of power available to us in the country”.
In reply, Sunak said: “When it comes by energy policy, I stick by what we said in our manifesto, Mr Speaker, the important thing is though to focus on our long-term energy security.
“That means more renewables, more offshore wind and indeed more nuclear; that’s what this government will deliver.”
Onshore wind development has been banned in England since David Cameron’s time in charge, and a campaign pledge during Rishi Sunak’s initial run against Liz Truss promised to maintain that prohibition.
That was part of a bid for energy self sufficiency by 2045, which included a “massive expansion in offshore wind”, but the ban on onshore deployment led to accusations of “economic illiteracy”.
Sunak’s reply notably omits fossil fuels, which have accounted for 43% of electricity generation alone across the UK over the last year, according to the national grid.
Earlier this week, trade body Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) welcomed Mr Sunak’s appointment, adding that its members “are protecting the UK from many of the worst impacts of those shortages by producing energy for the whole nation”.