Celebrations in Derbyshire as Government calls a halt to fracking

Lee Rowley MP
Lee Rowley MP

Anti fracking campaigners are celebrating  after the government has  announced it is calling  a halt to shale gas extraction  in England.

Anti fracking campaigners in Derbyshire are celebrating after the government has announced a moratorium shale gas extraction in England.

The most recent fracking activity in the UK was halted in August following a series of earthquakes which breached fracking regulation.

The halt comes after a report by the Oil and Gas Authority said it was not possible to predict the probability or size of tremors caused by the practice.

Lee Rowley MP for North East Derbyshire said he had successfully convinced the Government to drop its support for fracking in the UK.

But his political opponents say the move is only temporary and have accused the Conservatives of electioneering.

The MP said the proposed site at Bramleymoor Lane in Marsh Lane would not be fracked in the future under the new Government policy.

He said: “Since I was elected in 2017, my top priority has been to fight fracking.

“That’s the pledge I was elected on and that’s what residents ask me to do regularly on the doorstep.

“Over the past two years I have met with many Government Ministers and MPs to make the case against fracking.

“I’ve led and attended debates in Parliament on fracking, launched a Parliamentary group on fracking, scrutinised fracking regulators, convinced a spending watchdog to investigate fracking, worked with local activists against fracking, and even introduced legislation to try to stop fracking earthquakes.

“I am extremely pleased that the Government has listened to the concerns on this and can now see what many residents in North East Derbyshire already know – fracking just doesn’t work for the UK.

“Congratulations and thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to create this outcome. It’s only by working together that we’ve been able to protect our local community and change national Government policy.”

The announcement was made in conjunction with the publication of a scientific assessment of recent fracking activities, conducted by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), one of the fracking regulators.

The OGA’s report found that it is not currently possible to accurately predict the probability or magnitude of earthquakes linked to fracking operations.

Lee Rowley introduced legislation in the House of Commons to cement fracking earthquake regulation earlier in the year.

In a statement released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Secretary of State commented: “After reviewing the OGA’s report into recent seismic activity at Preston New Road, it is clear that we cannot rule out future unacceptable impacts on the local community.

“For this reason, I have concluded that we should put a moratorium on fracking in England with immediate effect.”

David Kesteven chairman of Eckington Against Fracking said the decision was a "Tremendous victory" for everyone who had campaigned against fracking.

He said: "I was a Green candidate in 2015 and I was against it on the hustings. Lee changed his mind but fair play to him He supported the community . It is a victory for everybody in the campaign - we have been united and apolitical.

"We were united as a community . We went to a public Inquiry and we won the argument. Although they had planning permission Ineos never moved on site .

"It's a moratorium for the fracking industry but there is no way back for the Government and the fracking industry.

"It shows what you can do when a community unites.

"We are delighted."

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins said: “I doubt that fracking campaigners will be fooled by this cynical election stunt. It is clear that this delay until ‘the science is proven’ is nothing like the water tight commitment to ban fracking that Labour have promised since 2016.

"The Tories know that they can’t win an election by telling people what they really think and so in many areas they pretend that, contrary to everyone’s experience of the last nine years of a Tory Government, they are a party that can be trusted to halt fracking, end the benefit freeze, increase police officer numbers, fund the NHS and tackle homelessness. In fact the opposite of what they’ve done since 2010.

"The truth is that if voters in Chesterfield and North Derbyshire want Labour policies they should vote Labour and not be taken in by half-baked commitments with a nebulous deadline that will disappear like a morning frost this springtime in the event of a Tory landslide.”

North East Derbyshire District Councillor Coun Ross Shipman (Liberal) added:

“I welcome the recent announcement of the *temporary* pause to fracking in the UK, but I must stress, this is not a permanent ban like most of us would want.”

“The words ‘permanent ban’ seem to have been missing from the lips of our local MP, Lee Rowley since he was elected on 2017. I don’t know about you, but I’m absolutely fed up of this lip service and electioneering.”

“North East Derbyshire deserves fracking and other any new fossil fuel extraction to be permanently banned, while we heavily invest in different forms of green renewable energy to tackle the Climate Emergency. It’s not a hard concept. No ifs, no bits, no lip service.”