Rees-Mogg should ensure his constituency is the first to be fractured, says Tory MP | Splitting

Jacob Rees-Mogg should “lead by example” and make his first constituency to be fractured, a Tory MP has said.

Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde, has challenged the Business Secretary to start drilling in North East Somerset before imposing fracking on other constituencies.

The constituency of Menzies is one of those to have suffered the worst effects of shale gas drilling, with seismic events in Fylde, home to Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, twice forcing nationwide moratoriums.

“I believe the secretary of state has shale gas in his constituency,” he said. “It would be great for him to lead by example on this, so why doesn’t he make sure the first shale wells are fractured in his constituency and why not?” There is no nobler cause than leading by example.

“There is nothing stopping him from demanding that North East Somerset be the flagship project. I am sure after listening to him in Parliament he is very confident that people will welcome this with open arms, that communities will celebrate. by North East Somerset I think we will applaud it.

Rees-Mogg did not respond when asked by the Guardian if he would take up Menzies’ challenge. While British Geographical Survey maps show there could be shale gas in his constituency, no licenses have yet been granted in northeast Somerset. However, there are shale gas licenses in the neighboring constituency of Wells, so its constituents would still be affected if those areas were fractured.

Menzies, elected in 2010, sought assurances that Prime Minister Liz Truss will honor her promise to fracture areas only after obtaining local consent. This week, the Guardian revealed that the government is considering making fracking sites infrastructure projects of national importance, circumventing local planning requirements.

In parliament on Thursday, Rees-Mogg refused to reassure Menzies that his constituents would be able to block the drilling, saying instead they would be compensated. “We obviously want to work with local communities, and it’s really important that companies looking to extract shale gas come up with packages that make what they’re proposing to do welcome to local communities,” he said. .

Tory MPs confront Jacob Rees-Mogg over decision to lift fracking ban – video

Menzies doesn’t think that’s enough. He said: “A question posed to the Secretary of State was how to define local consent – ​​he was asked this eight times – and the answer was no. The government arrived at the dispatch box without an answer: it has its work cut out to reassure parliamentarians.

“It is a key thing for me, the people of this country can understand the problems with energy prices, but above all they expect the Prime Minister to ensure that his government respects clear commitments and that there is no backtracking or rewording.”

He hinted that Truss could face a rebellion from backbenchers if she goes back on her word: ‘Every fellow Tory who has fracking in their constituency takes the Prime Minister at his word that it will only go forward with local consent, and the force of feeling will be felt throughout the parliamentary party, for all of us who will be affected by it.

Menzies has dealt with fracking and its effects on his constituency for 12 years and hasn’t always opposed it. However, after experiencing disruption, local anger and earthquakes, with no benefit to the constituency, he became a vocal opponent of local shale gas extraction.

“I’ve been doing this for 12 years. Most of the time, I didn’t object. I was of the opinion that you had to ask yourself if it could be done safely, if the local population could come with you, if it had local or national advantages. And now we have seen the result,” he said.

“So anyone who says it hasn’t been tried doesn’t know what they’re talking about. If the industry wants to keep fracturing the same piece of rock – I would point to the Guardian article which points out that the Cuadrilla founder says it wouldn’t work.

“For Tory MPs who don’t have shale gas and think everything is fabulous, I would say it was about your constituency and the people you represent. You would need to accommodate their concerns, you wouldn’t dismiss them.

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