The UK government has rejected a petition by a climate science denier to overturn the country’s ban on fracking.
The news will come as a set-back to the campaign being waged by politicians, commentators and pressure groups to restart the controversial technology.
The petition was started by Lois Perry, director of the climate science denial group CAR26 and a regular guest on GB News and talkRADIO, who has claimed that the “climate emergency” is a “scam”.
It called for the government to reverse its 2019 moratorium on hydraulic fracturing — known as fracking — to “enable shale gas developments”, arguing this would provide “cheap local energy” during the cost of living crisis.
Experts have dismissed the idea that shale gas could make a meaningful contribution to the UK’s energy supply or cut bills for consumers.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng this week rejected Perry’s petition, which has received just 17,836 signatures since it was launched, saying in a written response: “The government does not agree we should lift the pause on hydraulic fracturing at this time given the lack of new, compelling evidence that shale gas extraction can be done safely.”
He cited evidence that fracking had caused “seismic activity” in Lancashire that was felt by residents and damaged property. Kwarteng also noted that “a significant number of wells would need to be drilled” for shale gas to contribute to the UK’s energy mix, and that each well “produces gas for a relatively short time”.
In April, the government commissioned the British Geological Survey to review the scientific evidence around shale gas extraction.
Jamie Peters, campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “While the outcome of a government review into the safety of fracking awaits, this certainly doesn’t offer much hope of revival to the fracking industry.
“Any sensible review will come to the same conclusions that we all did in 2019: that fracking isn’t feasible in the UK, and that concerns about Earth tremors are legitimate, which is what led us to a moratorium in the first place.
“We already have plenty of homegrown energy potential in the UK through renewables such as solar, wind and tidal,” he added.
Climate Denial Campaign
The return of fracking has been a key demand for climate science deniers and “delayers”, including the Net Zero Scrutiny Group in parliament and the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s (GWPF) Net Zero Watch campaign.
It has also received support in right-leaning newspapers including The Sun, The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph.
Former Brexit Party MEP Lance Forman and conservative commentator Darren Grimes have both promoted Perry’s petition.
Net Zero Watch put out a press release condemning the government’s decision, blaming it on a “green clique that surrounds Kwasi Kwarteng and Boris Johnson”, and warning that Johnson “won’t survive [the] continued ban on shale gas”.
In March, Net Zero Watch published a report calling for the “rapid” extraction of oil and gas, the return of fracking, keeping coal-fired power stations open, and the “complete” phaseout of renewable energy from solar and wind. Its parent organisation, the GWPF, published a paper in April claiming that there is “no evidence of a climate crisis”.