The government announced it has ended its support for fracking in the UK, following the publication of new scientific analysis.
Ministers took the decision on the basis of a report by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), which found that it is impossible to accurately predict the probability or magnitude of earthquakes linked to fracking operations.
Business secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “Whilst acknowledging the huge potential of UK shale gas to provide a bridge to a zero carbon future, I’ve also always been clear that shale gas exploration in the UK must be carried out safely.
“In the UK, we have been led by the best available scientific evidence, and closely regulated by the Oil and Gas Authority, one of the best regulators in the world.
“After reviewing the OGA’s report into recent seismic activity at Preston New Road, it is clear that we cannot rule out future unacceptable impacts on the local community.
“For this reason, I have concluded that we should put a moratorium on fracking in England with immediate effect.”
On Saturday morning chancellor Sajid Javid will announce a new Treasury review of the UK’s transition to a zero-carbon economy.
The news comes the same day that Labour announced plans to make all new homes zero carbon within three years. This could save people living in new builds £200 a year in energy bills.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “We will tackle the housing and climate crises at the same time by building warm and energy efficient homes.
“The next Labour government will usher in a Green Industrial Revolution to tackle climate change and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs.”
Tom Wheeler, the Oil and Gas Authority’s director of regulation, said: “Based on [the risk of induced seismicity], the OGA believes that further detailed geomechanical analysis would be needed before we could evaluate with confidence whether hydraulic fracturing could resume in the Fylde, or elsewhere, consistent with the Government’s policy aims.”
Operations at Preston New Road in Lancashire, which were run by Cuadrilla Resources, have been suspended since a magnitude 2.9 event was recorded on 26 August.
Other sources of natural gas will continue to contribute to the UK’s diverse energy mix. The committee on climate change has previously said that there will still be a requirement for natural gas in a 2050 net zero economy.
The decision to ban fracking comes a week after a report from the National Audit Office found that public opposition to fracking had doubled since 2013.
Main image credit: Getty