The controversial gas extraction process known as fracking is “dead” in the UK, campaigners and local residents groups have claimed.
Cuadrilla, the fracking company most active in England, has begun removing equipment from its only testing area after the work was blamed for minor earthquakes in August.
There are no plans to continue at the Lancashire site, and an imminent energy white paper from the government is set to prioritise renewable energy over fracking, which blasts a mixture of water and chemicals into underground shale rock to release gas.
Once lauded by David Cameron and George Osborne as a technique that would cut energy bills and create tens of thousands of jobs, fracking was losing political support even before the tremors at Cuadrilla’s site near Blackpool.
Jamie Peters, a campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: “Fracking in the UK is now dead. Cuadrilla’s test drilling at Preston New Road was the flagship scheme — and it’s gone badly.
“To get this industry off the ground, regulations would need to be relaxed, and that’s just not going to happen after those August quakes and the growing environmental concerns around fossil fuels.”
Even before the latest Extinction Rebellion protests last week, polls have suggested that mainstream public concern over climate change is growing, making it less and less likely ministers would champion a new fossil fuel industry.
Although the leadership of the Conservatives Party still officially supports fracking, between 30 and 40 Tory backbenchers are understood to favour a ban.
In a speech last Thursday in Northampton, Jeremy Corbyn said Labour would “ban” fracking, echoing calls from the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.