Speaking in Parliament, they questioned the business minister Greg Hands over whether the Government was about to do a U-turn over the Preston New Road site in Lancashire, which is due to have its two test wells filled in with concrete within the next five weeks.
But, under pressure from the onshore oil and gas industry and Tory MPs who think fracked gas might cut dependency on the three per cent of Russian gas the UK currently uses, the Government said the capping of the wells was currently “under discussion”.
Tory MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, Lee Anderson, said: “Cuadrilla, the company that owns the wells have spent the last six days trying to get hold of anyone at BEIS or the Oil and Gas Authority to receive confirmation that they no longer need to carry out this abandonment process. But they are being ignored.”
Business minister Greg Hands said UK shale gas must be safe, cause minimal disruption and damage to those living and working nearby and must have the support of the community.
But he added: “The Oil and Gas Authority, the independent regulator, has proactively approached Cuadrilla as recently as this week to ask if Cuadrilla will apply for an extension.”
Lancaster and Fleetwood Labour MP Cat Smith said: “Can the minister when he says ‘fracking would need support from local communities’ be sure that he is hearing that Lancashire said no, and that people from Lancashire do not want fracking."
She said that the current pause on fracking should be turned into an outright ban.
Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys Paul Maynard said: “Does he not agree that this debate about fracking is a complete distraction from the task at hand of find speedy, effective and efficient measures to reduce energy costs in the short run, not a further long term gamble on unproven technology that is many, many years away from delivering anything meaningful to my constituents?”
Fylde Tory MP Mark Menzies, said he recognised the need to end the reliance on overseas fossil fuels but added: “Fracking is not a solution.”