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Sir Greg welcomes his party’s U-turn on the ban on fracking

The decision by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to reintroduce the ban on fracking in England has been welcomed by East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight.

The controversial process had been banned since 2019 after worries over earthquake tremors and the impossibility of predicting the probability or size of them.

The ban was lifted by then-Prime Minister Liz Truss in September. It was a decision criticised by Sir Greg who raised concerns for public safety and believed that local people should have the final say on fracking activity and that it should not be forced in communities that do not want it.

However, he later voted against a Labour motion to allow parliamentary time for a law that would secure a ban on fracking.

The vote had been described by Conservative whips as a motion of no confidence in the government, with MPs threatened with expulsion from the party if they voted for the Labour motion or abstained.

Despite the government victory, it was a vote that would ultimately lead to the downfall of Ms Truss, who resigned after just 45 days as prime minister.

The ban was restored by Mr Sunak during his first Prime Minister’s Questions last Wednesday (26th October).

Asked by Green MP Caroline Lucas if he would restore the moratorium on fracking that was pledged in the 2019 Conservative manifesto, Mr Sunak said: ‘I have already said I stand by the manifesto on that’.

An official spokesperson for the PM later confirmed that he was committed to the promise.

Sir Greg has welcomed the restoration of a moratorium on fracking in England by Mr Sunak.

“I welcome this decision from the new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak,” he said. “The announcement of a go-ahead to fracking in England was made by PM Liz Truss, who has now left office.

“It was a decision that she made which did not have my support. Indeed, I have spoken out against it in the House of Commons and growing opposition to her plans came from both sides of the House.

“Following her resignation, I am pleased the idea has been dropped. Currently, it cannot be shown that fracking is safe, and, in any event, it is right that if it ever was to go ahead in the future that local communities must be given an absolute veto.”

East Riding of Yorkshire Council also took the same stance as Sir Greg, after its councillors voted against fracking on 5th October, a decision that leader of the council, Cllr Jonathan Owen said was able to ‘lay down a marker’.

However, Fossil Free East Yorkshire, a group campaigning to end ties to the fossil fuel industry in East Yorkshire, believes the ban does not go far enough.

A spokesperson for the group also believes that investment in fossil fuels by East Riding of Yorkshire Council is ‘destroying our future’.

“On 26th October in Prime Minister’s Questions Rishi Sunak said the moratorium on fracking would be reinstated, after Liz Truss and Jacob Rees-Mogg tried to push it on communities that had already roundly rejected it,” said the spokesperson.

“The arguments against fracking have been won not once, but twice now. What Sunak failed to mention was that the moratorium only applies to the most extreme fracking, over a massive 10,000 litres of frack fluid in shale formations, so has big loopholes.

“Fracking just under that volume, or extreme techniques in other formations, such as enhanced recovery from unconventional tight sandstones, or using large volumes of acid in limestone, are not subject to the moratorium.

“So, 80 per cent of US fracking wells would not be subject to this weak moratorium and would not be subject to fracking regulations.

“Anti-fracking groups across the UK are calling for a proper ban on extreme fossil fuel extraction, that cannot be casually overturned on a future government’s whim.

“Fracking is opposed by all the other major political parties, many trade unions, all major environmental groups representing millions of members and most UK citizens, according to the government’s own figures, so any democratic government should ban it now.

“Fracking was banned years ago, or is not permitted in many other countries including Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Germany and several US states.

“Banning fracking is clearly not enough, we need to stop all new fossil fuel exploration and drilling.

“The head of the UN says ‘Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness’, the International Energy Agency says ‘we do not need any more investments in new oil’, and the world’s top scientists report the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground, and our situation ‘is absolutely desperate’.

“Meanwhile East Riding of Yorkshire Council continues to invest millions and millions in fossil fuels via their pension fund, funding new oil and gas drilling, which could include fracking and is destroying our future.

“Many employees would be horrified to discover this. This madness has to stop. They should heed the calls to divest.

“Instead of continuing to push, subsidise and invest in fossil fuels, both regionally and nationally, we call for the obvious solution so many people are crying out for, mass insulation, house by house, starting with the poorest and most vulnerable.”

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