Rees-Mogg indicates Welsh ban will not be affected by plans to resume fracking in England
The UK Government’s Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg has indicated the ban on fracking in Wales will not be affected by the lifting of the ban in England, which was confirmed earlier today.
Mr Rees-Mogg said the impact of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine means securing domestic energy supplies is vital as he defended lifting the moratorium in England, which has been in place since 2019 after a series of tremors caused by the process.
He also suggested current limits on acceptable levels of seismic activity are too restrictive and said the his government is determined to “realise any potential sources of domestic gas”.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said earlier this month that the Welsh Government would not consider lifting the moratorium on fracking in Wales which has been in place since 2015.
Responding to this morning’s announcement in the House of Commons, Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams MP asked for assurances that ministers would not seek to reverse the Welsh ban
“In Wales, we know the cost of dangerous fossil fuel extraction so that others, remotely, can profit,” he said.
“It’s particularly acute today, the date of the Gresford mining disaster, where 266 men and boys were killed. 200 women were widowed. 800 children were left fatherless.
“The coal mine, owned by the Westminster and United Group, subsequently destroyed the safety records.
“Mr Speaker, Gresford was mooted as a fracking site. And there in the pit the men remain, 2,000 feet underground. Only 11 bodies were recovered, but it was mooted as a fracking site.
“So will the Secretary of State confirm that licencing powers on fracking remain with our Senedd, and that he has no intention of trying to return those powers to Westminster?”
“Mr Speaker, I am not seeking to upset the devolution settlement,” Mr Rees-Mogg responded.
Licensing powers over fracking were 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.
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, Liz Truss’s administration has torn up the manifesto commitment.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said lifting the ban in England means future applications will be considered “where there is local support”.
Developers will need to have the necessary licences, permissions and consents in place before they can commence operations.
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