Boris Johnson’s government stands accused of u-turning on a policy on fracking less than two weeks after it was announced.
At the start of November, the government made a dramatic u-turn on fracking. After years of Conservative support for the controversial practice, it announced a moratorium. But, according to inews, the government later issued a document which contradicted that promise.
To pause or not to pause
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced on 1 November that fracking was “paused unless and until further evidence is provided that it can be carried out safely here”. Labour, which has pledged to ban fracking completely, suggested at the time the move could be an election “gambit”.
Now inews reports that, just three days after the government’s moratorium announcement, it issued a document suggesting otherwise. The document reads:
It should be noted that the Government has made clear that on the basis of the current scientific evidence, and in the absence of compelling new evidence, it has taken a presumption against issuing any further Hydraulic Fracturing Consents. While future applications will be considered on their own merits by the Secretary of State in accordance with the law, the shale gas industry should take the Government’s position into account when considering new developments.
So the government says it will consider fracking applications “on their own merits” in the future, not temporarily end consideration of applications as per a moratorium. Furthermore, inews reports that the document also said:
there was “considerable merit” in loosening planning laws so local councils would no longer be able to block firms from drilling for shale gas.
In response, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey called the government’s previous announcement a “phoney ban”. She commented:
You can’t trust a word the Tories say on fracking. In just over a week their policy has evolved from a ‘ban’ to a ‘temporary pause’ and now, seemingly, an extreme ‘frack-at-will’ policy imported from Trump’s USA.
Frack Free Lancashire’s John Hobson said:
This fudge has all of the hallmarks of a Government who are trying desperately to please all sides in this argument, but are failing to please anybody. It is time they applied a single approach, consistent with the evidence, and banned all fracking permanently.
The government and the Conservative Party did not respond to inews‘ request for comment.
Johnson came under fire in parliament recently after MPs discovered a fracking lobbyist is writing the Conservative Party’s election manifesto. The PM himself has also rooted for fracking in the past: a dirty energy source that’s turned out to be the wrong solution to our energy and planetary needs.
The practice is deeply unpopular in Britain, including among Tory voters. So this apparent u-turn doesn’t look good for Johnson. Neither does the fact that his government seems to have told one thing to the public while saying something entirely different in private.
Featured image via YouTube – Channel 4 News
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?