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Environment

Could fracking take place in your area? This tool lets you check

A new map allows you to see which areas in England are covered by oil and gas licences and could be used for fracking in the coming months

Fracking has been effectively banned since 2019. Image: Matt Brown/Flickr

A new postcode checker allows you to see whether oil and gas drilling could be going ahead near your home, either through fracking or other extraction methods.

The tool was created by charity Friends of the Earth (FoE) after the government announcement plans to controversially lift a ban on fracking to tackle the energy crisis.

FoE analysed oil and gas licences across England to see which areas could be exploited for oil and gas in the coming months and years. 

The data has been presented in an interactive map that can be searched by postcode. It reveals 91 authorities across England currently have oil and gas exploration licences. 

These licences give the holders – usually a company – the right to exploit an area for oil and gas. 

According to FoE’s analysis, many of the current licences cover the Bowland Shale Formation, which is a geological area of interest for fracking which stretches across the north of England and the Midlands. 

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. 

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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. 

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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”.

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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.

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