Portsmouth MP says there is ‘no support’ for fracking after the government performs U-turn on lifting its ban

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A CITY MP has said there is ‘no support’ for fracking after the government performed a U-turn on lifting its ban.

Following the announcement, prime minister Liz Truss was met with anger from her own Tory MPs as well as those from opposition parties - including Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan.

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The moratorium on fracking had been in place since 2019 following a series of earth tremors and Conservatives representing seats in northern England hit out at the move to end it, which breaks a Tory manifesto promise.

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Stephen Morgan MP.
Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 160222-10)Stephen Morgan MP.
Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 160222-10)
Stephen Morgan MP. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 160222-10)

Business and energy secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said the impact of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine means securing domestic energy supplies was vital.

Labour said the Truss government had created a ‘charter for earthquakes’ while the Liberal Democrats said voters in rural areas were being treated as ‘guinea pigs’ for the fracking industry.

An interactive map by environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth shows a fracking site in the Meon Valley, close to Horndean. Another site is highlighted in Winchester.

Mr Morgan said: ‘Fracking is an outdated, dangerous and expensive way to produce energy that will not provide the clean, secure energy our country needs. There is no public support for it.

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‘One of the best ways to reduce reliance and household energy costs is through energy efficiency, which is why Labour would insulate 19 million homes across the country over the next decade through our Warm Homes Plan.

‘This Tory government is once again showing its willingness to break its promises at every turn to support dangerous fringe ideas that put the interests of fossil fuel companies above the people of Portsmouth and the country. Labour would put an end to that.’

But Mr Rees-Mogg said fracking was in the national interest and would make the country richer.

He suggested current limits on acceptable levels of seismic activity are too restrictive and said the government is determined to ‘realise any potential sources of domestic gas’.

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Regulations require work to stop if tremors above 0.5 on the Richter scale are detected, but Mr Rees-Mogg said he wanted that lifted potentially to 2.5, telling MPs: ‘There are millions of seismic events of 2.5 or lower in the world every year, we should not assume that every seismic event is the San Francisco earthquake.’

Fracking is the process of hydraulic fracturing, which uses high-pressure liquid to release gas from shale formations.

The 2019 Conservative manifesto pledged not to lift England’s moratorium unless ‘the science shows categorically it can be done safely’.

A government-commissioned report by the British Geological Survey (BGS) suggested more data was needed, but despite the lack of scientific progress Ms Truss’s administration has torn up the manifesto commitment.

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Mr Rees-Mogg said: ‘In light of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and weaponisation of energy, strengthening our energy security is an absolute priority and, as the prime minister said, we are going to ensure the UK is a net energy exporter by 2040.

‘To get there we will need to explore all avenues available to us through solar, wind, oil and gas production – so it’s right that we’ve lifted the pause to realise any potential sources of domestic gas.’