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Labour To Give All MPs A Chance To Vote On Fracking Ban

Labour To Give All MPs A Chance To Vote On Fracking Ban

A worker at the Cuadrilla fracking site in Preston New Road (Alamy)

4 min read

Labour will table a binding motion on Wednesday on the prospect of banning fracking in the UK, creating a headache for the government.

Last month, the government announced it was lifting the moratorium on shale gas production in England in a bid to increase domestic energy sources.

But the move has prompted considerable opposition, including from many Conservative MPs.

Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg has previously suggested the government would not offer MPs a chance to vote on the future of fracking.

A message sent to Conservative MPs by party whips on Wednesday morning said the vote was being considered "a confidence vote in the government" and that MPs were under a "hard three-line whip" to vote against the motion.

Announcing the motion, which will take place on Opposition Day on Wednesday, Shadow Climate Change and Net Zero Secretary Ed Miliband said they were offering Tory MPs a chance to vote against the measure.

“Today Conservative MPs have a simple choice; do they break the manifesto commitments they made to their constituents and allow the government to impose expensive, unsafe fracking on communities that do not want it, or will they support Labour’s ban on fracking once and for all," he said.

“Labour is standing up to Liz Truss’s unjust Charter for Earthquakes, including her plans to outsource decisions about local consent to fracking companies, because fracking would make no difference to energy prices, and would risk the health of local communities, nature, and water supplies.

“Every Conservative MP who opposes fracking must now put country over party and support Labour’s ban on fracking."

If passed, Labour's binding motion would guarantee future parliamentary time for a Bill which would ban fracking.

Rees-Mogg was strongly criticised by Conservative MPs last month after he suggested that those who opposed fracking were "luddites".

“There’s nothing Luddite about the people of Lancashire or Fylde," Tory colleague Mark Menzies told him in a heated exchange in the Commons.

There have been concerns of a Conservative rebellion over the issue, with many MPs concerned about how local consent would be ensured for the matter.

The government has insisted that developers will need to have the necessary licences, permissions and consents in place before they can commence operations, but details are yet to be confirmed on what this will entail.

A number of Cabinet ministers have previously expressed opposition to fracking, including the new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, and COP26 chair Alok Sharma.

Writing to then-Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove in June about a site in his constituency, Hunt said fracking would "create enormous disruption and environmental damage for little if any economic benefit".

Many backbench MPs are also vocal opponents, including Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford, Redcar MP Jacob Young and North Dorset MP Simon Hoare.

A number of Tory MPs told PoliticsHome at their party conference in Birmingham that they did not believe new fracking projects would get off the ground after widespread frustration over the proposals, claiming instead the plans would be "quietly shelved" by ministers just weeks after they were announced.

One Conservative MP with several fracking sites in their constituency, told PoliticsHome earlier this month that they believed the plans were "dead in the water".

"I'm not going to make a big fuss in public because I don't think it is necessary," they said.

"The plans are going to be quietly shelved because the party knows it's deeply unpopular and we will play no part in trying to win over local residents because it is utterly pointless. There will never be local consent no matter what is promised, so it's dead in the water."

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