Put fracking sites on same fast track as nuclear power, MPs demand

The MPs and their peers, led by Craig Mackinlay, chairman of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, said: ‘The Upgrade Secretary says the government will speed up nuclear projects. If the new government wants us to start fracking, we also need to fast-track shale gas sites through the planning system by treating them as nationally significant infrastructure projects.

Last week, Greg Clark, who has served as Leveling Up’s secretary since Michael Gove resigned in July, unveiled plans to set shorter deadlines for reviewing “nationally significant infrastructure projects”, such as nuclear power plants and offshore wind farms, in a move designed to make decisions faster and build projects faster.

“Absurd” that the UK imports most of its gas

In their open letter to The Telegraph, Tory MPs said fracking sites should be treated as part of the same regime given the energy crisis facing the UK.

Among the signatories are Esther McVey, the former secretary for work and pensions, Julian Knight, chairman of the Commons digital and culture committee, Huw Merriman, who chairs the transport committee, and Adam Holloway, a whip from the government.

They state, “Energy prices are skyrocketing as 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas lies idle beneath our feet. Just 10% of this amount, considered the most readily available, would give the UK self-sufficiency for 50 years.

“By not using Britain’s shale gas resources we are missing out on tens of thousands of well-paying jobs, losing billions from the UK economy while enriching overseas finances, depriving councils and residents of millions of tax revenue books and putting our country at the mercy of a Russian-dominated European gas market as we all seek the same limited resource.

“The Committee on Climate Change says we will still be using gas by 2050. It is absurd that we import most of it from abroad.”

The 2019 moratorium was announced by then-Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom “based on the disruption to residents living near Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in Lancashire” and the “latest scientific analysis” from the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA).

But other reports, published months later on the OGA’s website, prompted calls for the decision to be reversed. Kwasi Kwarteng, the current business and energy secretary, commissioned a review of the available evidence which has yet to be released.