Long-term fracking protesters force Tory fracking tsar to resign

A fracking protest sign
Fréa Lockley

Natascha Engel, the government’s fracking tsar, has quit after just six months in the post. And her resignation letter suggested that pressure from long-term fracking protesters forced her resignation. But there may also be more at play.

“An impossible task”

As the Guardian reported, Engel’s letter claimed she faced “an impossible task”. She also insisted that environmental activists:

had been “highly successful” in encouraging the government to curb fracking.

She continued:

We are listening to a small but loud environmental movement that opposes in principle all extraction of fossil fuels. The campaign against fracking has been highly successful in raising the profile and filling the coffers of some NGOs, but they do not represent local residents nor the wider population.

As The Canary has reported for some time, there are major concerns about the controversial process and links to earthquakes. Under current government rules, fracking must stop each time it triggers an earth tremor of magnitude 0.5 or above. Engel was critical of this, saying it “amounts to a de facto ban”.


For several years, campaigners have worked tirelessly to oppose fracking. Preston New Road has become ground zero in the battle. From a judge jailing activists (whom another judge promptly freed) to a court caseprotests and political interventions, via alleged police and security aggression – it’s the front line of the war against this dirty industry. So campaign groups welcomed the announcement:


And although Engel ‘blamed’ protesters, it also seems that the timing of her resignation may be more than a little coincidental. Prior to her appointment, Engel worked for INEOS, one of the UK’s key fracking companies. Following a Freedom of Information request from Unearthed, she:

admitted to routinely deleting correspondence and throwing away notes from meetings with fracking companies in a move that may have violated transparency requirements.

Many people noted the link between this information coming to light and her resignation:

Engel’s resignation may not mean the end of fracking in the UK. But it’s certainly a victory for all those who’ve campaigned for so long.

Featured image via Flickr – Matt Brown

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  • Show Comments
    1. Pro-frackers ignore the fact that when water reservoirs become poisoned they’re at risk too. Or maybe they think unicorns pee Evian at the ends of rainbows where it’s bottled by elves and delivered by fairies? They know water moves in natural cycles and begins its journey clean, whether as rain or from highlands, but when all ground which holds water contains fracking chemicals there’ll be no safe water anywhere.

      They don’t care for their own bloodlines which will perish with all the others, so either it’s a case of they’ll be dead and don’t care what happens after them, or money is more important than life on earth.

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