Prime Minister hints at calling halt to fracking

Fracking has become an election issue, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying he will address the "very considerable anxieties" about shale gas extraction.

With the Oil and Gas Authority expected to report this week on the links between fracking and earthquakes, the Government is reportedly considering using what are expected to be critical findings to call a pause to use of the technology.

Opposition from protesters and public concern over environmental impacts have long thwarted the ambitions of energy companies and the Government to develop fracking in the UK.

More properly known as hydraulic fracturing, fracking is a process in which liquid is pumped deep underground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas or oil trapped within it.

Labour MP Alan Whitehead has questioned the involvement of Rachel Wolf, whose lobbying firm has represented the fracking company Cuadrilla, in writing the Conservative Party manifesto.

In August, fracking by Cuadrilla led to an earthquake in Lancashire, measuring 2.9 on the Richter scale, which rattled doors and windows.

Mr Johnson said: "We will shortly be making an announcement about fracking in view of the very considerable anxieties that are legitimately being raised about the earthquakes that have followed various fracking attempts."

He hinted that a ban could be imminent: "We will certainly be following up on those findings because they are very important and will be of concern."

Opposition to fracking has almost doubled, with government research showing that 40% of people are against it, up from 21% in 2013.

Support for fracking has fallen from 27% to 12%.

Labour has promised to ban fracking "immediately" if it wins the general election.

It is also Liberal Democrat policy to ban the technology.

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