BARNSLEY Council has ruled out seeking licences for fracking on its land - despite the government performing a U-turn on a ban which prevented companies digging for gas and oil from shale rock.
Hydraulic fracturing involves drilling into the earth and directing a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals at a rock layer in order to release the gas inside.
In the face of opposition, and concerns from the Oil and Gas Authority, fracking was halted in the UK in 2019 but following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising energy bills, the government said ‘all options’ are now on the table to boost homegrown energy supplies and reduce reliance on foreign suppliers.
The decision paved the way for would-be drilling firms to submit applications to do so - but the council confirmed it would not be touting its land.
At last Thursday’s full council meeting, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture Coun Robert Frost confirmed Barnsley’s land will be protected and answered ‘no’ to a question from Coun Hannah Kitching about whether the council would pursue licenses for fracking operations on its own land.
He said: “There’s a process to follow here, though - any application that comes in will be taken through due process.
“Bear in mind with fracking, anything underground is the responsibility of the Environment Agency, and anything on the surface will come to planning.”
Coun Kitching called on Barnsley Council to go a step further and formally condemn the government’s U-turn.
“We understand that all planning authorities will be bound by this dangerous change to the legislation,” she added.
“These proposals from new Prime Minister Liz Truss fly in the face of scientific evidence - they ignore the risk of damaging seismic activity and water contamination and lay bare their denial of the reality of climate change.
“Extracting shale gas has a significant detrimental impact on climate change and will not tackle the current energy crisis.
“It’s both disappointing and concerning that Barnsley Labour have refused to join us in condemning this outrageous move by this unelected Conservative Prime Minister which she has no mandate to implement whatsoever.”
In the last round of fracking licences, 50 per cent were issued in Yorkshire and more than 3,000 people in Barnsley signed a petition to oppose fracking in the area.
Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock said: “Fracking is not the answer to high energy prices in the UK.
“There is no new science, little evidence that it will make a significant impact, and even ex-energy bosses are speaking out against re-implementing it.
“In their own research, government found that just 17 per cent of people support the practice of fracking.
“There is no local consent for this dangerous practice in my constituency.
“I will continue to put pressure on the government to maintain the fracking moratorium.”