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    Fracking ban to be lifted despite scientists ‘advising UK that forecasting earthquake will be a challenge’

    September 16, 2022 - Saphora Smith and Adam Forrest

    government is set to lift the ban on fracking despite a leaked scientific review that acknowledges that forecasting earthquakes “remains a scientific challenge”.

      The key report by the British Geological Survey includes little evidence that progress has been made in reducing and predicting the risk of fracking-induced earthquakes, Guardian reports.

      It also says there are still “significant existing knowledge gaps” when identifying sites that may be able to cope with magnitude 3 tremors. ban on fracking in England was announced in 2019 after a report by the Oil and Gas Authority found it was not possible to accurately predict the probability or intensity of earthquakes linked to fracking operations. The Independenthas not confirmed the contents of the BGS report.

      The review of the science was due to be published last week in conjunction with Liz Truss’ announcement to reverse the ban but was delayed following news of the Queen’s death.

      The BGS report was commissioned in April by the former Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who is now chancellor.

      Writing to the British Geological Survey, Mr Kwarteng asked it whether there had been new developments in the science of fracking, in particular techniques which could reduce the risk and magnitude of seismic events.

      The official written lifting of the ban on fracking -announced by Ms Truss last week -is expected to be published following the Queen’s funeral on Monday.

      Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist said for the government to reverse its position on shale gas on the back of this would simply be breaking a clear promise on which they were elected.

      “They have no mandate from the voters or from the circumstances for such a change, and if they carry it through it would just mean we had an industry with lower standards of safety, and a government with lower standards of integrity,” he said.

      Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Danny Gross said fracking was one of the least popular forms of energy generation in the UK.

      “Fracking will only have a negligible impact, if any, on soaring fuel bills,” he said. “Ministers should abandon shale gas extraction and focus instead on energy efficiency and onshore wind and solar – which are cheap, popular and quick to build.”

      News of the contents of the long-awaited report comes afterThe Independent reported earlier this week that fracking firms were pushing for earthquake limits to be relaxed and planning permissions sped up in England.

      The industry body toldThe Independentthat lifting the moratorium will only kick start the industry if new rules are brought in to make fracking easier.

      A government spokesperson said it commissioned the British Geological Survey to advise on the latest scientific evidence on shale gas extraction.

      “Making the most of our own gas resources makes us less dependent on imports and helps maintain the security of the UK’s energy supply in both the short and long-term,” the spokesperson said.

      “Drawing on lessons from around the world, we will make sure it is done as safely as possible and where there is local support.”


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