Truss fracking commitment a “fanciful” solution to energy costs, Miliband says

Katie Neame
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Ed Miliband has accused Liz Truss of “touting fanciful solutions” to spiralling energy bills after the Tory leadership frontrunner announced that she would end the ban on fracking to boost the UK’s energy security.

Writing in the Daily Mail on Thursday, the Foreign Secretary said she would end the ban on extracting shale gas through fracking but added that she would be “led by science” and set out a plan to “ensure communities benefit”.

Commenting on the article, the Shadow Climate Change and Net Zero Secretary said: “As energy bills soar for households across the country, Liz Truss is offering nothing to help them now or in the future.

“She opposes a windfall tax on the eye-watering profits oil and gas companies are making and would block onshore wind and solar, the cheapest forms of homegrown power, having overseen the closure of our gas storage in government.

“Meanwhile, she’s touting fanciful solutions like fracking which the government itself previously concluded is unsafe, will not help our energy security, nor cut bills, and is opposed by local communities.

“Once again, we see that the Tories have nothing to say about the problems they’ve created over 12 years of failure, which has left bills higher and our country less secure.

“Only Labour can give Britain the fresh start it needs, with a plan to upgrade 19 million draughty homes to reduce energy demand and massively accelerate the renewable rollout with a clean energy sprint to strengthen our energy security and cut bills for good.”

Miliband previously accused the Conservatives of being “missing in action” on the cost-of-living crisis after the government failed to agree any new support measures in a meeting with energy company executives.

The Treasury revealed that Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and the energy firms had agreed to “work closely” to ensure that consumers are supported. But Boris Johnson told attendees it would fall to his successor as Prime Minister to make “significant fiscal decisions”.

Commenting following the meeting, Miliband declared: “The Prime Minister and Chancellor have gone AWOL, whilst the candidates for the leadership have no substantive ideas about how to help working people meet the challenges they face.”

In Thursday’s article for the Mail, Truss wrote: “Energy security starts at home, which is why we must radically boost domestic supplies. The government I lead will seek to unleash more energy by maximising our North Sea oil and gas production.

“We will not be swayed by short-sighted calls to hit these firms with a windfall tax, as that risks deterring investors and slowing our pursuit of energy independence.

“We will end the effective ban on extracting our huge reserves of shale gas by fracking but be led by science, setting out a plan to ensure communities benefit. Fracking will take place only in areas with a clear public consensus behind it.”

Fracking is the process of drilling into the earth and directing a highly-pressurised mixture of chemicals into rock to extract shale gas. The government announced a moratorium on the use of the process in 2019.

The Conservatives said in their 2019 election manifesto that the party would not support the extraction of shale gas “unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely”.

Some Tory MPs have called for the ban on fracking to be lifted. Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has claimed that shale gas offers “quite an interesting opportunity” and compared the risks to “a rock fall in a disused coal mine”.

The Net Zero Scrutiny Group of Conservative MPs wrote a letter to the Prime Minister in February calling for fracking in the UK to be restarted and claiming that shale deposits in the north of England could offer “at least 50 years of cheap and sustainable gas”.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced in April that the government had commissioned the British Geological Survey to assess the latest evidence on fracking and produce a report by the end of June.

Energy minister Greg Hands confirmed in July that the government had received the report and would “make any decisions on the next steps in due course”.

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