New UK PM Sunak commits to fracking ban – spokesman

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LONDON, Oct 26 (Reuters) – Fracking will be banned in England under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, reversing a decision made by his predecessor Liz Truss, as the new British leader returned to a 2019 Conservative Party manifesto pledge.

During her short term as prime minister, Truss had lifted a moratorium on fracking, arguing last month that strengthening the country’s energy supply was a priority.

In parliament, Sunak was asked about fracking, and said he stood by a 2019 manifesto commitment on the issue.

The Conservatives’ 2019 policy prospectus said they would “not support fracking unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely.”

Asked by a reporter if Sunak’s comment meant that fracking was “back in the bin”, Sunak’s spokesman said “That’s correct.”

“You’ve got the position set out in the manifesto, which the prime minister pointed to,” the spokesman told reporters. “Obviously it’ll be for BEIS (the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department) to come forward with a bit more detail on that.”

Truss had said fracking – extracting shale gas from rocks by breaking them up – would be allowed where it was supported by communities, but the plans had faced opposition from many lawmakers, including from her governing Conservatives.

Fracking has also been opposed by environmental groups and some local communities. It was banned in 2019 after the industry regulator said it was not possible to predict the magnitude of earthquakes it might trigger.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout, Muvija M and Sachin Ravikumar, Editing by Paul Sandle)

A grab from a handout video made available by the UK Parliamentary Recording Unit shows Home Secretary Suella Braverman (3-R) and other cabinet members react while British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during his first Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London, Britain, 26 October 2022. EPA-EFE/UK PARLIAMENTARY RECORDING UNIT HANDOUT

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