Government confirms it is lifting ban on fracking in England

The government has confirmed it is lifting the moratorium on fracking in England, arguing it will help bolster energy security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The business and energy secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said: “In light of [Vladimir’] Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and weaponisation of energy, strengthening our energy security is an absolute priority, and – as the prime minister said – we are going to ensure the UK is a net energy exporter by 2040.

“To get there we will need to explore all avenues available to us through solar, wind, oil and gas production – so it’s right that we’ve lifted the pause to realise any potential sources of domestic gas.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said lifting the ban meant future applications would 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.

Ministers also published the British Geological Survey’s scientific review into shale gas extraction, which was commissioned earlier this year.

BEIS said the review “recognised that we have limited current understanding of UK geology and onshore shale resources, and the challenges of modelling geological activity in relatively complex geology sometimes found in UK shale locations”.

The government argued that the limited understanding should not be a barrier to fracking, but instead a reason to drill more wells to gather more data.

“It is clear that we need more sites drilled in order to gather better data and improve the evidence base, and we are aware that some developers are keen to assist with this process,” a BEIS statement said.

“Lifting the pause on shale gas extraction will enable drilling to gather this further data, building an understanding of UK shale gas resources and how we can safely carry out shale gas extraction in the UK where there is local support.”

The government also announced a new oil and gas licensing round, expected to be launched by the North Sea Transition Authority in early October.

This is expected to lead to more than 100 new licences being granted to search for oil and gas in the North Sea.