Friends celebrate fracking moratorium

Friends have welcomed news that a moratorium on fracking the UK has been announced, but are pressing for an outright ban

Quakers are celebrating the moratorium on fracking in the UK that the government announced last week, but pressed for an outright ban.

Oliver Robertson, head of witness and worship for Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM), hailed the announcement by the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Andrea Leadsom on 2 November as ‘a win for all those Quakers who’ve worked with others to oppose fracking. Climate scientists say we need to keep eighty per cent of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground’. However, he said, ‘it is not the ban we are seeking. We continue to take action and advocate to keep fossil fuels where they belong – in the ground. We want investment in renewable, efficient energy that is affordable for all.’

Members of Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW) tweeted that the government U-turn was ‘amazing news’ and said it was ‘all thanks to the sustained efforts of campaigners, activists and communities’.

Meanwhile other anti-fracking campaigners cheered the news while also registering their caution. While some campaigners expressed distrust of the announcement and predicted ‘if the Tories get in again it will be back in another name with a different definition that’s “perfectly safe”’, others vowed to enjoy ‘the taste of victory… while we can’.

The group Frack Free North West, which included campaigners from the Cuadrilla Preston New Road site where an earth tremor registering 2.9m in the summer caused damage to buildings, tweeted: ‘Moratorium rather than out and out ban. Who cares. Fracking dead in UK. Thousands of brave and dedicated campaigners against the toxic industry can perhaps get their lives back, enjoy family time, hobbies, holidays again. Well done, many thanks and love to all.’ The group pledged to campaign in the new year for an outright ban, while Reclaim the Power said: ‘A moratorium is only as good as a social movement that can hold it in place… so we must stay active, and stay vigilant.’

Elsewhere, others, such as the Scottish Youth Climate Strike, pointed out the irony of announcing the moratorium only days before the government approved a coal mine in Cumbria. Environmental campaigners have sent an open letter to the government calling on it to extend its moratorium on fracking to less publicised techniques used by the oil and gas industry, such as acid stimulation. This is often described as ‘fracking by stealth’. The letter says that controls around acid stimulation are ambiguous.

The moratorium on fracking has been issued due to concerns about earth tremors.

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