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The British government has lifted a moratorium on fracking for natural gas despite widespread public opposition and several previous failed attempts to launch a national onshore drilling campaign.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the business secretary, said the UK was committed to becoming a net exporter of energy by 2040. He argued the country must pursue all options to strengthen its security energy following Russia’s decision to cut gas supplies to Europe.

“The light at [President Vladimir] Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and weaponization of energy, strengthening our energy security is a top priority,” Rees-Mogg said.

“To get there, we will have to explore all the avenues available to us through solar, wind, oil and gas production. So it’s only fair that we lifted the pause to realize all the potential sources of household gas. »

The industry, however, has doubts about the UK’s ability to ramp up fracking.

While Prime Minister Liz Truss has backed a new push to increase domestic oil and gas production, the Conservative Party has always said it will only happen where there is “local support”.

A YouGov poll in May showed that 27% of the population supported shale gas extraction, although that number had fallen from around 19% before the energy crisis.

The fracking moratorium was imposed in 2019 after shale-focused driller Cuadrilla triggered a number of earthquakes, including one that reached 2.9 on the Richter scale, as it was trying to develop a site near Blackpool in Lancashire.

Rees-Mogg told the BBC on Wednesday that seismic limits for fracking were “too low” and should be changed from the threshold of 0.5 on the Richter scale that triggers a shutdown. activity.

Truss has suggested fracking could boost UK gas supplies within six months despite advice from previous ministers.

The government on Thursday confirmed its support for the launch of a round of oil and gas licenses in the North Sea, expected in early October.

The British Geological Survey, tasked with assessing seismic risk by the government, said in a report on Thursday that “predicting the occurrence of large earthquakes and their expected magnitude is complex and remains a scientific challenge”.

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