Fracking ban lifted by Government, paving way for more than 100 new licenses for exploration

UK government lifts shale gas moratorium and confirms support for new oil and gas licensing round

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To bolster the UK’s energy security, the UK government has today lifted the moratorium on shale gas production in England, and confirmed its support for a new oil and gas licensing round, expected to be launched by the North Sea Transition Authority in early October.

In light of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and weaponisation of energy, the government is taking concrete steps to increase home-grown sources of energy, reduce the UK’s reliance of foreign imports, and explore all possible options to boost domestic energy security.

UK Government has lifted the fracking ban.
UK Government has lifted the fracking ban.

To do so, it is appropriate to pursue all means for increasing UK oil and gas production, including through new oil and gas licences and shale gas extraction.

Business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said: "In light of 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 new licensing round is expected to lead to over 100 new licences, forming part of the government’s plans to accelerate domestic energy supply.

Under the new licensing round, which follows the outcome of the Climate Compatibility Checkpoint, the NSTA is expected to make a number of new ‘blocks’ of the UK Continental Shelf available, for applicants to bid for licences.

These licences will enable developers to search for commercially viable oil and gas sources within the areas of their licences.

Ed Miliband MP, Labour's shadow climate change and net zero secretary, called fracking a "dangerous fantasy".

"It would do nothing to cut energy bills, it costs far more than renewables, it is unsafe and it is deeply unpopular with the public," he said.

Fracking is a 'dangerous fantasy' says Ed Milliband
Fracking is a 'dangerous fantasy' says Ed Milliband

The decision has sparked accusations the Conservatives have broken a 2019 manifesto commitment that promised they would "not support fracking unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely".