Tory minister mocked for ‘not in my backyard’ position on fracking

A Tory minister has been ridiculed on BBC Question Time after defending the government’s stance on fracking, but added he would not support drilling for shale gas in his constituency.

In the House of Commons on Thursday, Economy Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg was outraged by conservative banks when he answered questions about the lifting of the moratorium on shale gas extraction.

In their 2019 manifesto, the Conservative Party pledged not to lift the ban unless it is scientifically proven that fracking is safe.

However, Rees-Mogg insisted that lifting the ban on shale gas extraction “will bring us cheaper energy”.

Brendan Clarke-Smith, parliamentary secretary to the cabinet, appeared on BBC Question Time on Thursday evening and said there was a proposed fracking session in his Bassetlaw constituency, while outlining how the government wants to see “an energy mix”.

He was then asked by Labor MP Wes Streeting, who sits in the shadow cabinet, whether he supports fracking in his own community.

Clarke-Smith said, “No.”

“Ah, of course. Not in your backyard, but in everyone else’s,” Streeting replied with applause from the audience. “Incredible.”

Clarke-Smith added that he was “pretty neutral about it, I want to see more evidence”.

He pointed to two solar farms in his constituency — one that met little opposition, while another raised concerns — and said it showed it was important to “treat (an energy proposal) on its merits”.

When asked why a minister was “neutral”, Clarke-Smith added: “There are parts of the country where people are actually calling for fracking, people think it would be very helpful, people want to investigate that, I I think people will have the opportunity to do that.”

Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is a method of extracting gas and oil from shale rock.

By drilling into the ground and pushing a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals onto rock, gas can be released from within by splitting the rock open.

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine sparked a government turnaround as the Russian president choked on global supplies. However, serious concerns remain about the impact of fracking, especially earthquakes.

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