Liz Truss government lifts ban on fracking in push to grant 100 new oil and gas licences

Liz Truss’s government has formally lifted a ban on fracking for shale gas despite the lack of safety data, saying it was “absolute priority” to boost energy

supply. Business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said all sources of energy needed to be explored, insisting that a “higher degree of risk and disturbance appears to us to be in

the national interest”. The move is part of a push to grant 100 new fossil fuel drilling licences, the business department announced on Thursday – despite conceding that

there was still a need to “gather better data” on fracking safety. A moratorium was imposed on fracking in 2019 after the industry regulator said it was not possible to

predict the magnitude of earthquakes it might trigger. A review of acceptable levels of seismic activity found that there was only “limited understanding” of the risks – but

government claimed that ending the ban and allowing more drilling would allow more data to be gathered. Despite concerns about earthquakes, Mr Rees-Mogg suggested higher

levels of seismic activity would be allowed at drilling sites – saying the current limit of 0.5 on the Richter scale was “too low”. “The seismic limits will be reviewed to

see a proportionate level. 0.5 on the Richter scale, which is only noticeable with sophisticated machinery, it is quite right that fracking would not take place – that level is

too low,” he told BBC Newsnight. In a written statement, Mr Rees-Mogg said “tolerating a higher degree of risk and disturbance appears to us to be in the national

interest”.