"SCAREMONGERING" by anti-fracking campaigners is as bad as that of anti-vaxxers, a Tory former Cabinet minister has told Parliament.

Lord Lilley spoke as the Government was tackled at Westminster over the lifting of the ban on the controversial gas extraction technique in the face of soaring energy costs and fears over the security of supply, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A moratorium had been in place since 2019 following a series of earth tremors, and Conservatives representing seats in northern England have been angered at the move to end it, which breaks a Tory manifesto promise.

READ MORE: Tory MP Laura Farris: No fracking in my area - but northern Scotland could be 'appropriate'

Fracking is the process of hydraulic fracturing, which uses high-pressure liquid to release gas from shale formations.

Speaking in the upper chamber, Lord Lilley said: “Over a million shale wells have been drilled in North America and elsewhere and there’s no record of a single building being shaken down by the occasional micro-tremor, nor a single person being poisoned by allegedly contaminated aquifers.

“Isn’t the scaremongering of the anti-frackers as bad as that of the anti-vaxxers and should they be treated similarly?”

Responding, energy minister Lord Callanan said: “There are indeed a number of scare stories that have been circulated, although I would gently point out that many parts of America are much less densely populated than many parts of the UK.”

The Tory frontbencher also rejected claims the Government would overrule local opposition to fracking in their areas.

He was pressed by Green Party peer Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb whether ministers would block schemes that local people did not want.

Lord Callanan said: “The Prime Minister has said and my secretary of state has said that local support for fracking projects is very important and is one of the factors we will take into account.”

But Labour peer Lord Watts said the suggestion local people would have a say was “meaningless because the Government will overrule them”.

However, Lord Callanan said: “I said that local support was extremely important. It is one of the factors that we will be looking for to see demonstrated before any hydraulic fracturing licences are issued.”

Labour frontbencher Lord McNicol of West Kilbride said: “There is little evidence to suggest that fracking is the answer to the current energy crisis.

“Reducing our collective energy demand would improve energy security and lower prices.”

Lord Callanan said: “Fracking is not the answer. It is one of the potential answers to energy security. We need a diversity of supply.”