MPs will be given a say on how local communities can approve or block new fracking sites, business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg has told Tory MPs today.
Rees-Mogg said in a letter to all Conservative MPs, seen by City A.M., that a consultation on how to establish local consent for new fracking projects will begin next month and that “once we have a scheme we will ask the House to vote on it”.
Prime Minister Liz Truss overturned England’s moratorium on fracking last month in a move that has been met by stiff resistance by some Tory backbenchers.
Many have called on Rees-Mogg to provide a clear mechanism which gives local communities the final say on whether shale gas extraction is allowed in their area.
It comes as a Labour vote opposing fracking is being called a de facto vote of confidence in Liz Truss’ government by Tory whips.
In his letter today, Rees-Mogg said: “The Prime Minister and I have made clear the importance of local support and consent for shale gas developments clear from the start. This means hydraulic fracking will only go ahead where there is local support.
“The consultation proposed by the government will consider how the views of mayors, local authorities and parishes as well as scientific evidence could be reflected as well as the immediate concerns of those directly affected.”
Tory MP Mark Menzies, an opponent of fracking, today pushed the Prime Minister to promise that shale gas companies will not be involved with the local consent process.
Truss refused to answer the question and Rees-Mogg indicated in his letter today that fracking companies will be deeply involved in selling their projects to local communities.
The business secretary also said that the government expects local communities to be given direct compensation from fracking companies as soon as the construction of new wells begins.
“As I have said before, we expect companies involved in shale gas development to work closely with communities in order to gather the local support needed, while also recognising their commitment in supporting the UK’s energy needs,” he said.
“We want developers to deliver strong, tailored offers to ensure that the affected communities benefit directly from shale gas developments.”
The Conservatives’ 2019 election manifesto promised that the ban on shale gas extraction would not be lifted “unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely”.
A British Geological Survey review of fracking was inconclusive around the safety impacts of the controversial practice.