Johnson reveals impending 'announcement' on fracking's future to address public 'anxieties'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the government is to make "an announcement" on the future of shale gas fracking in the wake of "very considerable" public concern, amid speculation that he could announce a ban on the controversial technology.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pic: Getty)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pic: Getty)

Speaking yesterday during Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons, Johnson said: "We will shortly be making an announcement about fracking in view of the very considerable anxieties that are legitimately being raised about the earthquakes that have followed various fracking attempts."

He added: "We will certainly be following up on those findings because they are very important and will be of concern". He did not outline which "findings" he was referring to.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said the department would not be issuing any further details on the announcement at this time.

Countryside campaign group the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which has long opposed fracking, has trumpeted the announcement as a potential "ban on all new fracking".

Daniel Carey-Dawes, head of rural economy and communities at CPRE, said: "We welcome warmly the government’s mooted ban on new fracking, which would be a victory for communities, climate and common sense."

England's only active fracking site, at Preston New Road, Lancashire, began operations in the summer. 

However, due to government restrictions which stitpulate that fracking must cease if seismic activity caused by the process reaches a certain level, fracking there is currently on hold. This followed a series of earth tremors in the surrounding area. 

Both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats say they would ban fracking. The practice is banned in Scotland and in Wales.

In June, the government removed a paragraph from the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) intended to support the extraction of "unconventional hydrocarbons" following a High Court ruling earlier this year which found that a public consultation on the policy was flawed.

In February, the then communities secretary refused plans for a fracking site near Preston in Lancashire after concluding that the scheme would have a "very significant adverse impact" on road safety, despite attaching "great weight" to "the benefits of onshore oil and gas development".

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