Worker at the Cuadrilla fracking site in Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, Lancashire

Labour pledges to ban fracking ‘once and for all’

Image credit: PA Images/ Danny Lawson

Ed Miliband, the shadow climate secretary, called fracking an "expensive, dirty, and dangerous" idea that would not solve the energy crisis.

Labour has pledged to ban fracking “once and for all”, calling it “an unjust charter for earthquakes”, and is reportedly working to try to force the government to change its policies. 

Ed Miliband, the shadow climate secretary, is scheduled to visit Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire, on Friday to meet the party's candidate Jo White and residents to listen to concerns about the possibility of fracking in their area.

"Labour will stand with communities in opposing the Conservatives' dodgy plans to impose expensive, dirty, and dangerous fracking on the British people," he said.

“Fracking would make no difference to energy prices, and could risk the health of local communities, nature, and water supplies.”

Fracking is the process of hydraulic fracturing, which uses high-pressure liquid to release gas from shale formations. The technology was originally banned by the Conservatives in 2019 after a series of tremors, and their manifesto that year pledged not to lift England’s moratorium unless “the science shows categorically it can be done safely”.

However, one of Liz Truss' first decisions as Prime Minister was to lift the fracking ban, as part of a plan to make the UK a net energy exporter by 2040.

At the time, energy secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg insisted that 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”.

A government-commissioned report by the British Geological Survey (BGS) has already suggested that more data is needed but, despite the lack of scientific progress, Truss’ administration opted to sidestep the manifesto commitment.

The government has insisted that future fracking applications will be considered where there is local support, although it is not clear how that will be measured

Both Labour and Tory MPs opposed this decision, and some of them are reportedly collaborating to force a policy U-turn on the issue, similar to the one the government did in relation to some of the tax cuts proposed, according to BBC sources

After Rees-Mogg suggested it was “sheer Ludditery” to oppose fracking, Fylde’s Tory MP Mark Menzies shot back: “There’s nothing Luddite about the people of Lancashire or Fylde.”

Miliband will also visit a solar farm, where he is expected to set out his party’s opposition to any plan that would block new solar projects, a position currently held by Truss. 

“If Liz Truss blocks solar power she will be declaring unilateral energy disarmament – undermining our energy security and forcing the British people to accept decades of higher energy bills,” Miliband said.

“Only Labour can deliver lower energy bills and energy security for the UK, with our plans for clean power by 2030 – including trebling solar power – and GB Energy, a publicly owned, clean energy company, to make Britain an energy independent superpower.”

In his speech to Labour party conference last month, Sir Keir Starmer promised to create a publicly owned energy company to ensure energy security in the UK.

The company would be named Great British Energy, and it would be modelled after France’s EDF and other firms owned by foreign states operating in the UK, with the goal of taking “advantage of opportunities in clean British power”, Starmer said. 

The speech came after days of market uncertainty driven by the recently sacked chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini budget, which unveiled the biggest tax cuts in 50 years and resulted in the value of the pound crashing to historic levels, something Sir Keir said the public should “not forgive and not forget”.

Currently, MPs are not set to get a vote on the government's pledge to lift the ban on fracking in England.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles