'Lift fracking ban to boost UK's security over energy'

Thirty-five Tory MPs and four peers sent a joint letter to the Prime Minister urging him to overturn an order, by the Oil and Gas Authority, to shut off shale gas wells in Lancashire. They warned that Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine made energy security a top priority for the UK.

The plea comes amid growing concern about the impact of green targets on the cost of living.

And in a separate move, Nigel Farage launched a campaign Britain Means Business seeking to force a referendum on the Government’s plan to achieve “net zero” carbon emis- sions in the UK by the middle of the century.

Tory MPs yesterday expressed anger about a claim by a minister that the two shale gas wells at Preston New Road, Lancs, were exhausted.

Energy Minister Greg Hands had said: “Gas wells need to be safely decommissioned at the end of their useful life.” But Tory MP Craig Mackinlay, chairman of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, said: “These wells haven’t even started their useful life.

“As we face possibly the most serious energy crisis in history, they could play a fundamental role in preventing British people from being put at the mercy of a volatile global gas market dominated by Russia.

“The only thing that’s useless is the moratorium on shale gas extraction and a bizarre instruction from the Business Department to concrete up our wells in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, made worse by conflict in Europe.

“It amounts to nothing less than incoherent industrial vandalism.”

Former Tory minister Steve Baker, deputy chair of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, called Mr Hands’ suggestion “outrageous” while Francis Egan, chief executive of energy firm

Cuadrilla Resources branded it “astonishing”. A petition on the official parliamentary website demanding an end to the fracking ban has hit the 10,000 signatures needed to oblige ministers to publish a formal response.

The letter backed by Tory MPs and peers said: “Filling these wells with cement as Europe stands on the brink of all-out war would send the wrong signal to our allies and to our enemies.”

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