A future Labour Government would ban fracking

A shale well pad in Pittsburgh, US. Picture: Mark Simpson
A shale well pad in Pittsburgh, US. Picture: Mark Simpson

Labour says it will be ban fracking if it regains power.

Shadow energy and climate secretary Barry Gardiner made the announcement at the party’s annual conference in Liverpool on Monday morning.

He told delegates that Labour will go further than its previous policy of a moratorium until environment conditions are met.

“There are technical problems with fracking and they give rise to real environmental danger, but technical problems can be overcome,” he said. “So on their own they are not a good enough reason to ban fracking. The real reason to ban fracking is that it locks us into an energy infrastructure that is based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to clean energy.

“So today, I am announcing that a future Labour Government will ban fracking - and we will consult with our colleagues in industry and the trade unions about the best way to transition our energy industry to create those vital jobs and apprenticeships which were are going to need for the UK’s low carbon future.”

Fracking is a process which involves gas being released from the ground by fracturing rocks underground.

Chemical giant INEOS has announced that it intends to submit five planning applications for vertical core drilling for shale gas in the East Midlands by the end of this year.

INEOS has licences to frack in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and needs permission from local councils to drill vertical core wells as a first step in a process that could lead to horizontal fracking of those wells.

The Government has pushed for the development of Britain’s shale gas industry, saying it would create jobs and growth, reduce energy prices and cut the country’s reliance on gas imports.

Speaking earlier this month, INEOS director Tom Crotty said the extraction of shale gas could boost the local economies of East Midlands districts by ‘hundreds of millions of pounds’.

But Paul Frost, of the Green Party in Mansfield, says he has welcomed the announcement by the Labour Party.

He said: “This is great news which is very welcome and adds more weight to the anti-fracking cause. Labour have acknowledged the risks and problems involved in hydraulic fracturing and the growing groundswell of opposition.”

His comments were echoed by Greg Hewitt, of Frack Free Notts, who described the news as a ‘great boost’ for his group’s campaign against fracking.

“We particularly find this useful as we hope it will aid with the county council elections next May,” he said. “Frack Free Notts will be contacting all election candidates and asking their views on fracking and warning that if they do not adopt an anti-fracking stance they face not being elected.”

Nottinghamshire County Council is expected to publish its recommendations to councillors later this week as to whether or not they should approve a planning application for the county’s first shale gas well.

IGas, one of the country’s biggest shale companies, has applied to drill and explore for shale gas near Misson in north Nottinghamshire.

An IGas spokesman said the firm was disappointed with Labour’s stance outlined by Mr Gardiner.

The spokesman said: “Whilst we welcome Labour’s acknowledgment that fracking can be done safely, it is disappointing that Labour have switched their previous position without a full debate and without regard to the views of experts and several unions on the role of shale gas in providing energy security, much needed jobs and investment.”

A meeting to discuss the IGas application will take place at County Hall, West Bridgford, at 10am on Wednesday, October 5.