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Liz Truss decision to lift ban on fracking could cause friction between UK and Welsh Government

08 Sep 2022 4 minute read
Liz Truss(L) Photo Stefan Rousseau. Mark Drakeford picture by Welsh Government.

Liz Truss’ announcement today that she is scrapping the ban on fracking could cause friction between the UK and Welsh governments.

There has been a moratorium on fracking in Wales since 2015. Licensing powers transferred to Wales in 2018, and at COP26 the Welsh Government signed up to the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance to reject fracking or any new hydrocarbon developments.

However, the then Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, Greg Hands, hinted in March that the UK Government may not respect the Welsh Government’s opinion on the matter if the ban on fracking was lifted.

He was asked by Liz Saville Roberts in the House of Commons whether the UK Government would “assure me that he will respect Wales’s opposition to fracking, honour our COP26 pledges and not give in to climate deniers and fossil fuel opportunists?”

Greg Hands answered that “I remind the right honourable lady that energy is reserved”.

He did however note that “local community support” was important, but made no mention of support or opposition from the Welsh Government.

Liz Truss is tipped to today follow through on her leadership vow to end opposition to shale gas extraction in places where it is backed by local communities.

Meanwhile, the new PM will also confirm she is scrapping green levies on energy bills and declare her support for more North Sea drilling, The Daily Telegraph said.

‘Not charities’

UK Labour meanwhile have pointed to prior comments from then-business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng arguing that those calling for the return of onshore fracking “misunderstand the situation we find ourselves in”.

In March, Mr Kwarteng – now Chancellor – wrote in The Mail on Sunday: “Even if we lifted the fracking moratorium tomorrow, it would take up to a decade to extract sufficient volumes – and it would come at a high cost for communities and our precious countryside.

“No amount of shale gas from hundreds of wells dotted across rural England would be enough to lower the European price any time soon.

“And with the best will in the world, private companies are not going to sell the shale gas they produce to UK consumers below the market price. They are not charities, after all.”

Labour has also accused the PM of writing a “blank cheque” to oil and gas giants by ruling out a windfall tax to pay for the cost-of-living package, with the British people left to “foot the bill”.

Fracking site. Picture by PXhere

‘Action’

Ahead of Thursday’s announcement, Ms Truss acknowledged families and businesses across the country are concerned about how they will “make ends meet” over the coming months.

She blamed rising global prices on Russian president Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and “weaponisation” of gas supply in Europe.

“This has only made clearer that we must boost our long-term energy security and supply,” she said.

“We will take action immediately to help people and businesses with bills but also take decisive action to tackle the root cause of these problems, so that we are not in this position again.

“We will set out our plans to deliver on that promise and build a prosperous Britain for everyone.”

Downing Street said the new PM would set out a “bold plan of action to support people across the UK” while also “ramping up domestic energy supply”.

Going head-to-head with Sir Keir Starmer at her first Prime Minister’s Questions, Ms Truss confirmed she would make an announcement on her cost-of-living proposals to the House on Thursday.

However, she faced accusations she was dodging scrutiny over the way her plans would be presented to Parliament.

She will open a debate on energy costs but, unlike a formal ministerial statement, this will not result in sustained questioning from MPs about the move.

‘Windfall tax’

Labour said the “only fair” answer to the crisis is its own proposal to freeze bills, valued by the party at £29 billion.

Shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband argued that “core” to any solution is the question of “who pays”.

“By ruling out a windfall tax, Liz Truss, in one of her first acts as Prime Minister, has written a blank cheque to the oil and gas giants making £170 billion in excess profits, and the British people will foot the bill,” he said.

“Every penny her Government refuses to raise in windfall taxes is money that they will be loading onto the British people for years to come.”

The Times also reported that ministers are planning a public information campaign to encourage people to reduce their energy use this winter, in case freezing prices removes the incentive to cut consumption.


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Dai Rob
Dai Rob
27 days ago

No. Just no.

George
George
27 days ago

As the poo hits the fan the mistakes Tories have made over 12 years – and arguably political consensus over 40 years – are becoming clear to everyone with debates being focused on i) what motivation was at fault? and ii) what to do next? Not being self-sufficient is obviously an error but Farage will blame Europe (of course) and those on left will point finger at austerity, uber-capitalism and David Cameron’s flip-flopping on nuclear. What is amazing is to go from a decade of “we must pay now, we can’t let our kids pay” to “we can’t pay now,… Read more »

Jim
Jim
26 days ago
Reply to  George

A classic case of “painting oneself into a corner” over the last 50 years.

There is only one way out….quickly find a new cheap and abundant energy source. Trouble is, it just ain’t there. Perhaps a return to a 1950s lifestyle is the best we can expect ?

kerry davies
kerry davies
26 days ago

Her answer to the cost of energy appears to be to give companies already making tens of billions a further £130Bn of taxpayer cash but fracking might prove an initiative too far. In Wales they were thinking of setting fire to undersea coal seams in order to extract gas which will get environmentalists on both sides of the Severn up in arms. The most productive licences however lie in a wide band across Berkshire, Hampshire, Sussex, Surrey and Kent, right slap dab across the solid Tory heartland of The Blue Wall. Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells and Gutted of Guildford have… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
26 days ago
Reply to  kerry davies

In that case let’s get a “Frack in the best places” movement going. No point fracking where the strata is low on gas reserves. I’m sure that community based ventures into gas extraction would appeal to the greedy grasping souls that inhabit that neck of the woods.
Oh tut, I forgot they are only interested in extracting value from tracts of land well away from their own back yards.

Frank
Frank
26 days ago

Truss won’t introduce a windfall tax on energy companies because she used to work for Shell and has probably got lots and lots of lovely shares. You and I have to suffer so that Liz’s shares won’t go down. She is looking after number one as is usual with politicians.

hdavies15
hdavies15
26 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Doesn’t matter whether she has shares or not. The plain truth is that governments in UK and many other countries are happy for globalist corporates to manipulate markets and exploit us the punters. Part of a long campaign to bleed us into poverty and concentrate wealth and the power that goes with it.

Hogyn y Gogledd
Hogyn y Gogledd
26 days ago

Mary O’Leary showed on her first day in office that she is a Shell shill,

DAI Ponty
DAI Ponty
26 days ago

And on the news this morning Ty Hafen the Childrens Hospice might have to close their energy bill was put up from one hundred thousand pounds to six hundred thousand pounds that really puts things in its prospective the country which unfortunatlly Wales is part off is heading for a humanatarian crisis perhaps we should take Wales case to the U N because WE WHERE INVADED WE DID NOT INVITE OR ASK THE ENGLISH TO CONQUER US they criticise Russia fir the invasion of the Ukraine and rightly so but it has happened to us even if it is a… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
26 days ago
Reply to  DAI Ponty

Come off it Dai. No supranational body is going to entertain any kind of separatist ideas from indy movements unless it aligns with their bigger picture. Ukraine “benefits” from being invaded by Russia so attracts EU, NATO and broad international support. The Catalans did not fare so well did they ? Snubbed, ignored by almost everybody in the court of international opportunism.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
26 days ago

Power over fracking is a devolved a matter. The exploration of onshore gas & oil activity was devolved to Wales in the 2017 Wales Act by David Cameron’s Conservative Government. Sorry Liz but keep your cheap stilettos off our turf.

#YesCymru 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿✊. #Ymlaen 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿✊ #PlaidCymru 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿✊

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
26 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

She may well try to over-ride the WG on this, in which case we shall have another clash of sovereignties which, I suspect, Cardiff Bay will lose. They’ve barely started on us yet.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
26 days ago

As long as the bills are going down, most of the UK electorate won’t care how the borrowing is paid for in the short term. This means that the Tories will shore up their base and probably just about retain enough support to win the next general election. UK Labour charging into Westminster on the imagined white horse is NOT happening, and even if they did win the next election, they would probably ride roughshod over devolution anyway, as they have suggested they will. When will “Welsh” Labour finally wake up to this fact??? Not standing up for our country… Read more »

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