Jacob Rees-Mogg would support fracking in his own back garden if it reduced the UK’s reliance on Russia, sources close to the Business Secretary said after Tory MPs accused him of caring too little about those living near shale gas wells.
On Thursday, the Business Secretary announced that a three-year moratorium on fracking would come to an end in the light of the war in Ukraine and the global energy crisis.
But Tory MPs are concerned new fracking wells will face local opposition after previous shale gas extraction caused a 2.9 magnitude tremor in Lancashire in August 2019. Fracking has also been accused of polluting water supplies and causing health problems.
Mark Menzies, a Tory MP in a Lancashire constituency that previously contained fracking sites, challenged Mr Rees-Mogg to begin shale extraction in his own seat of North East Somerset before starting elsewhere.
“It would be great for him to lead by example on this, so why doesn’t he ensure the first shale wells are fracked in his constituency, and why not?” he said. “There is no more noble cause than leading by example.”
Maps by the British Geological Survey show there could be gas in Mr Rees-Mogg’s rural constituency, although no fracking has taken place there yet.
A source close to Mr Rees-Mogg told The Telegraph he “would be happy to have a fracking well in his back garden if it meant that we were one step closer to becoming energy independent and not at risk of being held captive by malevolent states”.
The Business Secretary lives at Gournay Court, a 17th-century manor house near Frome, with a large walled mock-Jacobean garden designed in the 1930s. He also owns farm buildings and other informal gardens on a two-hectare estate.
His support for local fracking came as a boss at a major shale gas company said communities that backed the process could see their energy bills reduced.
Ross Glover, the development director of IGas, which holds licences for shale gas exploration in the East Midlands and the North West, said: “We have made some proposals, which would see a percentage of our revenues being dedicated to a community fund.
“And on top of that a very targeted set amount of money, which would be distributed to local residents, effectively capping their energy bills or giving them significant discounts off their energy bill. So we feel that’s a good way forward.”
IGas hopes to develop its site at Springs Road, near the Nottinghamshire village of Misson. However, fracking has the support of just 17 per cent of people in the Government’s latest public attitudes tracker.