The government confirmed yesterday that the moratorium on fracking in England, which has been in place since 2019 has been lifted. The moratorium, which effectively banned all fracking operations in England was put in place because of concerns over earth tremors that were being caused by fracking wells.

Some 120 tremors were recorded in 2019 at Cuadrilla's exploratory fracking site in Lancashire, but most of these were too small to be felt.

The government argues that the war in Ukraine and Russia's disruption of gas supplies to Europe is threatening energy security and that therefore we need to exploit more of our own energy reserves.

However, Chris Cornelius, a geologist who founded of Cuadrilla Resources, the company behind the UK's first modern fracking wells in Lancashire has said that he does not think fracking will happen in the UK in the near future.  He added that shale gas (obtained by fracking) is "heavily faulted and compartmentalised" in the UK, making its extraction much more difficult than in the USA, where fracking is big business.  The UK is also too densely populated, even in rural regions, to make large-scale fracking a realistic possibility here.

Environmental campaigners have expressed their concerns about the lifting of the moratorium.  Apart from the well-documented earth tremors that fracking is known to cause, the shale gas it produces is a fossil fuel, which when burned releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. 

Many argue that the country should instead be focussing its efforts on renewable energies, like solar and wind, the costs of which have dropped considertably in recent years and which do not contribute to climate change.

The government has said that fracking can only take place in areas where it is supported by local people.  Based on past experience, this could well mean that no new fracking is able to take place, as it has proved very unpopular so far, with protest groups setting up wherever new fracking wells are drilled.

Photo:  A fracking well in northern Pennsylvania, USA.

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