UK: “Victory for Communities & Common Sense.” PM Boris Johnson hints at frac ban; Previously had urged UK to “leave no stone unturned, or unfracked.” UK Oil and Gas Authority to report this week on links between frac’ing and earthquakes.

Boris Johnson poised to rule out new fracking, say sources, Decision would mark U-turn for PM, who once said fracking was ‘glorious news for humanity’ by Jillian Ambrose, Oct 31, 2019, The Guardian

The prime minister could be poised to sound the death knell for the UK’s controversial shale gas industry after more than a decade of support for fracking, according to sources.

Boris Johnson is expected to rule out any new fracking in the UK as part of his election campaign following rising opposition among voters and within his own party. [If he wins the election, will he reverse the ban? Or is this announcement to get lots of votes from the citizenry and bribes from oil and gas companies with which to win the election?]

The effective ban is widely expected to emerge within days, and green groups believe the “victory for common sense” could help kill off the industry after years of public protest over the environmental risks.Q&A

Johnson said on Wednesday that the government would make an announcement on the UK’s fracking industry following a review into a series of recent earthquakes at a shale site in Lancashire.

Fracking at Cuadrilla’s site near Blackpool was brought to an immediate halt after an earth tremor that breached the government’s earthquake limits.

Johnson said the announcement would be made in view of the “very considerable anxieties that are legitimately being raised about the earthquakes that have followed various fracking attempts in the UK”.

Prior to becoming prime minister, Johnson referred to fracking as “glorious news for humanity” and urged the UK to “leave no stone unturned, or unfracked” in pursuit of shale gas. He also hired a former fracking lobbyist to help write the Conservatives election manifesto. [Can it get any more vile? Oh, right, it already has – in Canada!]

But concerns within the party over the fracking industry have been growing in line with rising public opposition, according to Conservative sources. One party member said discussions over the future of the shale industry had been ongoing for months.

“This is an issue that the party has been wrestling over for longer than has been apparent, but the events of recent months have certainly helped to focus minds,” he said.

“Whether there is an outright ban on fracking, or a ban on new fracking licences, is largely academic. For the shale industry to succeed it would need to be at scale, and that seems increasingly unlikely.”

A ban on fracking from the prime minister would make the Conservatives the last major political party to turn its back on fracking after Labour and the Liberal Democrats joined the SNP and the Green party in opposing shale development in recent years.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, said: “Communities in Lancashire, Yorkshire and across the UK fought back hard against the efforts of the Conservatives to turn their backyards into gas fields – and they may have won a major victory in forcing the government to climb down.

“The big question now is whether they can trust a word Boris Johnson says,” she said.

The rumoured ban has emerged less than a week after a damning report from Whitehall’s spending watchdog found that the government’s plans to establish fracking across the UK was years behind schedule and had cost the taxpayer at least £32m so far without producing any energy in return.

Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace UK, said: “It’s not easy to admit when you’re wrong, but fracking has been a failure and government should accept it.”

The National Audit Office said almost half the money spent on the shale gas industry had been for policing the rising protests to shale gas projects.

Daniel Carey-Dawes, from countryside charity CPRE, said the mooted ban on new fracking “would be a victory for communities, climate and common sense” and a “step in the right direction”.

Fracking has taken place at only three shale wells in the UK in three years – all at the Preston New Road site in Lancashire – even though the government’s plan was to establish 20 by the middle of next year.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The government has always said shale gas exploration can only proceed as long as it is safe and environmentally responsible.”

Boris Johnson ducks scrutiny on fracking and web lobbyist writing Tory manifesto, The Prime Minister dodged questions about Rachel Wolf’s role – but did reveal an announcement on fracking policy will be made “shortly” by Dan Bloom, 30 OCT 2019,

Boris Johnson today dodged a question about a fracking and web industry lobbyist who is helping write the Tory manifesto.

The Prime Minister swerved giving a straight answer after it emerged Rachel Wolf has been given a role “assisting” the party with its plan for government.

Ms Wolf is a director of the lobbying firm Public First Ltd, which represents fracking giant Cuadrilla and the Internet Association – the body for controversial firms including Airbnb, Uber, Amazon, Twitter and Facebook .

Public First denied any conflict of interest, telling The Guardian Ms Wolf’s political work was “wholly separate” from the firm’s commercial interests.

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing or breaking the rules.

But Labour shadow minister Jon Trickett claimed it was an “outrage to democracy that the frackers, the tax avoiders and the zero-hour exploiters will have the biggest say when it comes to Tory policy”.

Labour MP Alan Whitehead raised the case at Prime Minister’s Questions.

He said: “Labour will be producing a strong offer on the climate emergency and net zero at the forthcoming election, including a full ban on the extraction of fossil fuel by fracking.

“What chance does the Prime Minister think he has of matching this offer, particularly in light of the news that the Conservative manifesto is going to be written by a lobbyist for the fracking industry?”

In reply, Mr Johnson did not address Ms Wolf’s role.

But he did reveal an announcement on fracking policy will be made “shortly”. It is thought it is due in the next few days.

Mr Johnson said: “We will shortly be making an announcement about fracking in this country in view of the very considerable anxieties that are legitimately being raised about the earthquakes that have followed various fracking attempts in the UK.

“We will certainly be following up on those findings… They will be of concern to members.” …

A Public First spokesman told The Guardian: “Public First has partners and staff who are members of all three major political parties and of none.

“Rachel is assisting the Conservative party with their manifesto based on her long experience of working on Conservative policy.

“Her political work is wholly separate from any commercial arrangements our firm has.”

Fracking industry quakes as Boris Johnson hints at ban by Ed Clowes, Oct 30, 2019,

Boris Johnson has sparked speculation he could call a halt to fracking following years of protests over the controversial gas extraction technique. …

Boris Johnson considers calling halt to fracking as hostility grows by Chris Smyth and Steven Swinford, October 31 2019, The Times

A freeze on fracking was signalled by the prime minister yesterday as he promised to address “very considerable anxieties” about shale gas extraction.

The Oil and Gas Authority is due to report this week on the links between fracking and earthquakes, and it is understood that the government is considering using what are expected to be critical findings to call a halt.

Public opposition to fracking has grown and with Labour pushing for a ban, the Conservatives want to neuter criticism of the industry, which has failed to live up to economic expectations.

Boris Johnson was challenged by the Labour MP Alan Whitehead, who raised the involvement of Rachel Wolf, whose lobbying firm has represented the fracking company Cuadrilla, in writing the Tory party manifesto.…

UK PM Johnson says government will make fracking announcement shortly by Kylie MacLellan and William James, Oct 30, 2019, Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – The British government will shortly make an announcement about fracking, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday, citing concerns about earth tremors which have been caused by such gas extraction in the past.

… “We will shortly be making an announcement about fracking in this country in view of the very considerable anxieties that are legitimately being raised about the earthquakes that have followed various fracking attempts in the UK,” Johnson told parliament.

“We will certainly be following up on those findings.”

U.K. Is Said Likely to Stick With Earthquake Limits on Fracking by Bloomberg, Oct. 30, 2019

Announcement due in the next few days before election campaign
Drillers have complained limits are too strict to allow work

The U.K. is unlikely to ease limits in the near future on the scale of earthquake natural gas frackers can create before they must must suspend work, two people familiar with the matter said.

The government is set to make a decision in the next few days after a report from the Oil and Gas Authority, according to one of the people. The regulator evaluated a magnitude 2.9 quake registered on Aug. 26 at a Cuadrilla Resources Ltd.’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool, in northern England. The report hasn’t been published, and ministers are still preparing the policy….

UK Braces For Final Verdict On Fracking by Tsvetana Paraskova, Oct 30, 2019, OilPrice

… However, Cuadrilla’s fracking operations have had to be temporarily suspended several times over the past year, due to tremors and seismic activity, because under UK regulations, in case of micro seismic events of 0.50 on the Richter scale or higher, fracking must temporarily be halted and pressure in the well reduced.

In August, just a week after resuming fracking at the site, Cuadrilla paused operations—yet again—after a tremor estimated to be the biggest yet since the UK shale gas company began hydraulic fracturing exploration in northwest England last year.

While Cuadrilla aims to continue with its well completion program at the site and touts spending on shale gas as boosting the Lancashire economy, climate activists and local residents continue to voice their opposition to the activities. 

The organization Friends of the Earth UK says that “It’s time for this climate-wrecking industry to be banned,” and calls on the UK government “not to frack it up.”  

Cuadrilla says it is not planning to abandon fracking in Lancashire by Jillian Ambrose, 14 Oct 2019, The Guardian

Cuadrilla is not abandoning its fracking ambitions in Lancashire and still plans to apply for an extension to its shale gas campaign, the company has said.

The company hopes to apply to Lancashire county council to extend drilling at the Preston New Road site beyond a 30 November cut-off point.

Refer also to:

UK: “Frack Free Lancashire is delighted to learn that 35 days after they caused a 2.9ML earthquake which shook the Fylde and the confidence of their investors, Cuadrilla are finally demobilising…. The seismic activity which they provoked has not stopped though, with the 133rd event being recorded on Saturday, five weeks after they last fracked.”

Nikiforuk: New report by BC regulator admits frac quake risk is high with formations “in a near critical state, meaning only small fluid pressure increases are sufficient to cause specific sets of fractures and faults to become critically stressed.” Researchers still can’t say where or why; Public complaints surging as frac quakes escalate.

THE CEN MANIFESTO by UK Conservative Environment Network, 2019

Stewardship of the natural world, responsibility towards future generations, the search for resilience, these are core tenets of conservatism. Yet we’re so often told that only the political Left is able and willing to tackle the many and growing environmental crises facing us. Why has this become the received wisdom? And why have conservatives allowed this myth to be perpetuated?

Today, the crises facing humanity have worsened beyond measure, and it is more important than ever that conservatives rediscover and champion their inherent affinity for looking after the natural world. This manifesto lays out a series of over-arching ideas for doing just that.

— Ben Goldsmith, Chairman (Foreword)


Subsidy-free onshore wind – a route to market for the cheapest source of power by letting it compete in CfD auctions. Increase ambition on offshore wind – become the Saudi Arabia of wind power hitting 75GW by 2050.

Remove barriers for solar and batteries – scrap the VAT hikes and review export tariffs.

Ban fracking – unpopular and uneconomic – it’s time to move away from oil and gas.

[Note that the CEN is not calling for frac regulations!]

Slide from Ernst presentations, 2017 UK speaking tour

Read the full Manifesto

2015 06 21: Who do Caleb Behn and Council of Canadians represent? One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Call for Federal Fracking Regulation Flies in the Face of Call for a Ban

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