Prime Minister Liz Truss says local consent is important but stumbles when asked if she knows anything about Preston New Road fracking site
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The ban on fracking in England was lifted in September as the Government pushed for an increase in domestic energy production in the face of soaring bills.
The controversial move to end the moratorium, which was imposed in 2019 after tremors caused by fracking in Blackpool, could get gas flowing from onshore shale wells in as little as six months, Prime Minister Liz Truss said.
Speaking about the move on BBC Radio Lancashire on Thursday, she said fracking would only take place in areas where there was local community consent.
“Fracking is carried out perfectly safely in other various parts of the world and the business secretary will make sure that any fracking that takes place is safe,” she added.
Graham Liver was quick to question her, saying America “do it in the middle of nowhere” before asking if she actually knew where Preston New Road was.
In response, she said she “didn’t think [she] had been to that site in the past.”
Fracking is the process of hydraulic fracturing, which uses high-pressure liquid to release gas from shale formations.
The 2019 Conservative manifesto pledged not to lift England’s moratorium unless “the science shows categorically it can be done safely”.
A Government-commissioned report by the British Geological Survey (BGS) was inconclusive, saying more data was needed, but despite the lack of scientific progress, Ms Truss’s administration tore up the manifesto commitment.
Liver added that Scott Benton, the Conservative MP for Blackpool South, had said people in the South Shore area do not support fracking.
He also played a clip of Mark Menzies, the Conservative MP for Fylde, which said: “If the Prime Minister is to remain a woman of her word, a woman we can believe in, which I believe she is, can the secretary of state outline how that local consent will be given and demonstrated in my constituency.”
Responding, Truss said: “We have to be clear about why we are doing this.
“One thing that has happened is the UK has become dependent on global energy prices, and we’ve seen through Vladmir Putin’s appalling war in Ukraine how energy prices have shot up and Russia has used the fact that it produces gas as a way of exerting pressure on other countries.
“We simply don’t want to be in the position so what I want to see is more home-bred energy in the UK, and that means using resources in the North Sea, it means more renewables, it means nuclear, and it also means fracking in areas where there is local support.”
Her appearance was part of a morning round of interviews in which the Prime Minister faced public questioning about her economic plans for the first time following the fallout from the mini budget on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Bank of England launched an emergency government bond-buying programme to prevent borrowing costs from spiralling out of control.
The Bank announced it was stepping in to buy up to £65 billion worth of Government bonds at an “urgent pace” after fears over the Government’s economic policies sent the pound tumbling.