Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the boss of Ineos, has called on the government to reverse a sweeping ban on fracking exploration in the UK.
The government ended support for fracking, a method of extracting oil and gas trapped in shale rocks, in 2019 amid concerns the practice damages the environment, releases harmful pollutants and causes earthquakes.
Ratcliffe, the founder of petrochemical firm Ineos, which specialises in shale extraction, is urging the government to rethink its fracking moratorium and grant his firm permission to construct a new test site.
“We will happily invite government inspectors to monitor what we do and if, at any stage, the science shows there are problems we will stop and make good the sitem,” said Ratcliffe.
“But if, as we believe, the opposite is true, we would ask that the government looks again at shale gas which would allow the UK to benefit from its own resources, massively reduce the cost of energy and ensure our long-term energy independence,” he continued.
Fracking is already carried out widely across the US and has helped the country become a net exporter of energy.
However, detractors warn that shale gas extraction will deepen the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels making it harder to meet climate change commitments. Three years ago the government banned fracking exploration on the basis of staunch local opposition and a study revealing scientists were unable to accurately predict the size of tremors caused by the extraction process.
“Ineos invested £259m in looking at the safe extraction of gas from UK shale,” Ratcliffe told The Sunday Telegraph, calling out politicians who destroyed investment “with the flick of a political switch” and without “even the decency of an apology.”
“Apparently the influential voice of a fashion designer carries more weight than any number of scientific experts,” the billionaire businessman continued, referencing Vivienne Westwood’s support for anti-fracking protests in 2018.