The UK government on Thursday lifted England's moratorium on the fracking process to extract oil and gas, saying the move aims to shore up energy security as Russia cuts gas deliveries amid tensions over its invasion of Ukraine and the intensification of the war.
To bolster the UK's energy security, the UK government has today lifted the moratorium on shale gas production in England, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said in a statement.
The UK had halted fracking, or hydraulic fracking, in 2019 over fears that the procedure could trigger earthquakes.
Thursday's announcement follows on indications from new Prime Minister Liz Truss two weeks ago that her government would allow fracking operations again to tackle growing energy shortages caused by Russia's actions.
BEIS not only announced an end to the fracking moratorium but also confirmed that it supported awarding 100 new licenses for oil and gas exploration next month.
It said that future fracking applications will be considered where there is local support.
This means developers would need licenses, permissions and consents, including regulatory approvals, before they can commence operations.
UK's business and energy secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said that strengthening energy security was a top priority in light of Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine and turning energy into a strangling weapon.
Rees-Mogg, a supporter of fossil fuel use and a climate change skeptic, said the UK aimed to become 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 realize any potential sources of domestic gas, he said.
Touching on the earthquake danger, Rees-Mogg told parliament, We need to revisit the seismic limits to ensure that shale gas extraction can be done in an effective and efficient way, adding that: We know that shale gas is safe. It is safe in the United States.
Fracking is a procedure to extract shale oil and gas from underground by blasting bedrock formations with a mixture of water, sand and chemicals under high pressure to create fractures through which petroleum and gas can flow.
But environmentalists argue that the method pollutes water supplies, harms fauna and flora and can trigger earthquakes, as well as advancing global warming. Likewise experts anticipate fracking will not reduce energy costs, and will take years for operations to get underway.