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Sir Greg: ‘I’m not backing fracking’

East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight has criticised the government’s decision to lift the ban on fracking and raised concerns of public safety in a debate in the House of Commons last month.

Sir Greg also believes that local people should have the final say on fracking activity and that it should not be forced upon communities that do not want it.

Business and Energy secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg faced a series of attacks from Tory backbenches over the government’s plan to lift the England moratorium on fracking which has been in place since 2019 after a series of tremors caused by the process.

There remains doubt and uncertainty about the effects of the fracking process, which has the potential to release methane gas and pollute underground water supplies.

Sir greg knight

Mr Rees-Mogg said the impact of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine means securing domestic energy supplies is vital and suggested limits on acceptable levels of seismic activity are too restrictive and that the government is determined to ‘realise any potential sources of domestic gas’.

Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is a method for recovering gas and oil from shale rock.
By drilling into the ground and pushing a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemical at rock, gas can be released from inside by splitting the rock open.

The government’s U-turn on the ban has come about due to concerns over energy security following the invasion of Ukraine; however, serious concerns remain over the impact of fracking – in particular earth tremors.

Speaking in the debate on Thursday 22nd September, Sir Greg, who was an energy minister in the 1990s, said: “Is it not the case that forecasting the occurrence of seismic events as a result of fracking remains a challenge to the experts?

“Is it not, therefore, creating a risk of an unknown quantity to pursue shale gas exploration at the present time?”

Sir Greg concluded: “Is he aware the safety of the public is not a currency in which some of us choose to speculate?”

Replying, Mr Rees-Mogg said that he thought ‘on a balance of risks,’ Sir Greg was ‘not coming to the right conclusion’.

However, Sir Greg has told the Driffield & Wolds Weekly that the British Geological Survey, commissioned by the government, states, in relation to fracking, that ‘forecasting the occurrence of seismic events remains a scientific challenge for the geoscience community…’

“In other words,” Sir Greg said. “There remains doubt and uncertainty about the effects of the fracking process, which has the potential to release methane gas and pollute underground water supplies.

“Because of these current safety concerns, I am not prepared to support the resumption of shale gas exploration.”

Jean Towers, of Nafferton Climate Action Group, which is made up of members of Nafferton Against Fracking, said she applauded Sir Greg for standing up for his constituents and for defending local democracy.

She said: “It is right that he prioritised the safety of the public and I agree with him that there is no evidence that fracking can be done safely.

“This is supported by the recently published report by the British Geological Society which stated that with regard to earth tremors that ’significant knowledge gaps makes forecasting fracking earthquakes a scientific challenge’.

“Also, during her leadership campaign, Liz Truss promised that drilling would only happen with local approval.

“The Business Secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, knows that local communities will not agree to fracking and therefore he is threatening to ignore local democracy with the use of NSIPs [Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects] which bypass local planning. I hope Sir Greg will continue to fight this proposal.

“It is significant that no Conservative MPs in core shale gas areas support the government over fracking.
“Yet again this government is peddling myths:

● That the UK can have an energy bonanza from shale gas as has happened in the USA. This is impossible as the geology of the UK is heavily faulted and unsuited to widespread fracking operations.

● That it will help reduce the price of gas. Fracking will not produce enough gas to impact on the UK’s energy supply. Any gas produced would be sold on the global market.

“Even the new chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng said earlier this year that fracking would not bring cheaper energy.

“Fracking will not help our current energy crisis, it damages the environment, contributes to global warming and requires huge investment.

“Fracking does not make economic sense. It would be far better if the money was invested in sustainable energy production and making our homes and public buildings more energy efficient so reducing our demand for gas.”

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