THE UK Government stands accused of abandoning the promises made at Cop26 by re-examining the case for fracking.

In an “unacceptable” about-turn, Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng (below) has written to the British Geological Survey asking for a report on the latest science around fracking which could see the controversial practice re-introduced.

The National:

The move comes as energy bills rocketed from the beginning of April and Kwarteng said in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine it was “absolutely right that we explore all possible domestic energy sources”.

Deidre Brock, the SNP’s shadow environment spokesperson said “fracking will never be the answer” to tackling rising energy bills.

Climate experts have warned increasing domestic fossil fuel production will not ease the pressure on home finances and have called on the government to use the crisis to wean the country off polluting energy sources.

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Kwarteng has admitted re-introducing fracking would “certainly have no effect on prices in the near term”.

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Danny Gross said: “The idea that shale gas extraction will significantly lower energy bills or improve energy security is pure fantasy.”

Governments committed to tough climate targets at the UN climate change conference in Glasgow last year.

But re-introducing fracking in England – the practice remains banned in Scotland – would see the UK “going back on our word”, said Brock (below).

The National:

She added: “When the leaders of the world descended on Glasgow for COP26, we pledged to do everything we can to end our reliance on fossil fuels – and everything in our power to tackle the climate emergency. 

“By reintroducing fracking, we would be going back on our word - which could have devastating consequences.

“The SNP fully appreciates that we are living in unprecedented times, with a Tory-driven cost of living crisis hammering households – however fracking will never be the answer.”

And she urged the government to boost funding for renewables and carbon capture in response to the crisis.

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Brock added: “Instead, ministers must accelerate investment in renewables, and use the upcoming energy strategy to create a Track 1 carbon capture site in the North East of Scotland which will help generate 20,600 new jobs – and help both Scotland and the rest of the UK deliver a just transition to net-zero. 

“We will continue to stand firmly against fracking – and urge UK ministers to follow suit.”

Kwarteng said: “It remains the case that fracking in England would take years of exploration and development before commercial quantities of gas could be produced for the market, and would certainly have no effect on prices in the near term.

“However, there will continue to be an ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming decades as we transition to cheap renewable energy and new nuclear power.

“In light of Putin’s criminal invasion of Ukraine, it is absolutely right that we explore all possible domestic energy sources.

“However, unless the latest scientific evidence demonstrates that shale gas extraction is safe, sustainable and of minimal disturbance to those living and working nearby, the pause in England will remain in place.”

Fracking at Preston New Road was suspended indefinitely after a record-breaking tremor measuring 2.9 on the Richter scale in August 2019, with the moratorium coming in a few months later.

Earlier this year, Cuadrilla, who operated the site was ordered to permanently cap and abandon the only two horizontal shale wells that have been drilled in the UK.

The move comes as the Government prepares to unveil its new energy security strategy this week, in which it is expected to set out plans to boost new nuclear power capacity, solar and offshore wind, but not cheap onshore wind.