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England fracking ban lifted – with limits on seismic activity set to be raised

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theguardian.com

The ban on fracking in England has been lifted, after Jacob Rees-Mogg called the current limits on seismic activity “too low” and admitted they were likely to be raised.Applications for new shale gas drilling can now be made, following confirmation from the government on Thursday that the moratorium in place since November 2019 had been lifted.Ministers gave the green light for the controversial practice to resume in an attempt to boost domestic energy production given spiralling costs caused in part by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but said fracking would only be allowed with “local support”.The Guardian revealed last week that a leaked government-commissioned report found there had been little progress in reducing and predicting the risk of earthquakes caused by fracking.Given there are only three test wells in the UK, the government said on Thursday that “we need more sites drilled in order to gather better data and improve the evidence base”, and added “some developers are keen to assist with this process”.But the decision to end the moratorium will reignite claims of another broken 2019 Conservative manifesto promise, which said fracking would only resume if “the science shows categorically that it can be done safely”.Rees-Mogg, the business secretary, revealed on Wednesday that the current limit on seismicity – 0.5 on the Richter scale – was likely be increased.“The seismic limits will be reviewed to see a proportionate level,” he told the BBC’s Newsnight.“At 0.5 on the Richter scale, which is only noticeable with sophisticated machinery, it’s quite right – the fracking would not take place.

That level is too low. But I can’t confirm the new level because that’s being looked at.”Pressed on how community consent will

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