UK ministers were accused yesterday of deliberately undermining their own fracking tsar before she resigned in frustration at their “paralysis”.
Natascha Engel quit seven months after she was appointed shale gas commissioner by the energy minister. The former Labour MP said that the government had caved in to pressure from campaign groups and had “instituted a de facto ban” on extraction.
The row revolves around the government’s rule that fracking must be suspended every time tremors of magnitude 0.5 and above are detected, which companies say makes drilling all but impossible.
Ms Engel, 52, said that ministers had come close to reviewing the rule this year but had backed away.
Stephen Elliott, chief executive of the Chemical Industries Association, said the resignation revealed an administration that was “all over the place”, adding: “The government appoints a champion to lead a campaign and then deliberately, not accidentally, makes the job impossible to do.” He described the seismicity threshold as “absurd”.