Fracking is a process used to extract oil and gas from rocks deep underground using a high-pressure mix of chemicals, sand and water. It has been effectively banned in England since 2019 following evidence that it was causing minor earthquakes near test sites.
Your support changes lives. Find out how you can help us help more people by signing up for a subscription
Fracking is deeply unpopular among the public, with 45 per cent of respondents in a 2021 government survey saying they opposed fracking, while just 17 per cent supported it.
Despite this, the government has announced plans to lift the ban to bring down energy prices and increase the UK’s domestic production of energy.
The suggestion has been met with derision not just from environmentalists, who point out that fracking is a disaster for the planet, but government ministers too.
Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter
Writing in the Daily Mail earlier this year, chancellor – and then-energy minister – Kwasi Kwarteng pointed out that fracking is unlikely to have any impact on energy prices in the UK, at least in the short term.
“The UK has no gas supply issues,” he wrote. “And even if we lifted the fracking moratorium tomorrow, it would take up to a decade to extract sufficient volumes – and it would come at a high cost for communities and our precious countryside.”
The government has said it will only allow fracking to go ahead “where there is local support”, but has not yet made clear what meets the bar for “local support”.
Reports suggest local people may be offered discounts on their energy bills to help muster support for projects.
FoE fracking campaigner Danny Gross said fracking will “do nothing to reduce energy bills” while being “by far the most unpopular and least effective way of generating energy in the UK”.
“Any attempt to water down the rules that help safeguard people from the threat of fracking will only fuel its unpopularity.
“If Liz Truss wants to build a strong economy for the future, she should champion home insulation and the UK’s plentiful renewable resources. They are cheap, quick to develop and are popular with the public,” he added.