Brendan Clarke-Smith (far left): "There are areas of the country where people are actually calling for fracking." (Photo: BBC Question Time)
A Tory minister has been ridiculed on BBC Question Time after defending the government’s position on fracking – but adding he would not support drilling for shale gas in his constituency.
In the Commons on Thursday, business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg faced anger from the Conservative benches as he was answering questions on the lifting of the moratorium on shale gas extraction.
In their 2019 manifesto, the Conservative Party pledged not to remove the ban unless fracking was scientifically proven to be safe.
However, Rees-Mogg insisted on that lifting the ban on shale gas extraction will “bring us cheaper energy”.
Appearing on BBC’s Question Time on Thursday night, Brendan Clarke-Smith, parliamentary secretary at the Cabinet Office, said there was a proposed fracking sit in his Bassetlaw constituency as he outlined how the government “wants to see an energy mix”.
He was then asked by Labour MP Wes Streeting, who sits in the shadow cabinet, if he is backing fracking in his own community.
Clarke-Smith said: “No.”
“Ah, of course. Not in your backyard, just in everyone else’s,” Streeting replied, winning applause from the audience. “Unbelievable.”
“Not in your backyard, just in everyone else’s”
“I’m fairly neutral on it. I want to see more evidence”
“It’s been done on the hoof. It’s something to announce”@Bren4Bassetlaw, @wesstreeting & @LaylaMoran exchange views on the lifting of the fracking ban in England #bbcqtpic.twitter.com/fa3abUAydE
— BBC Question Time (@bbcquestiontime) September 22, 2022
Clarke-Smith added he was “fairly neutral on it, I want to see more evidence”.
He pointed to two some solar energy farms in his constituency – one which had little opposition, while another was causing concern – and said that it showed it was important to “treat (an energy proposal) on its merits”.
When quizzed why a government minister was “neutral”, Clarke-Smith added: “There are areas of the country where people are actually calling for fracking, people think it would be very beneficial, people want to explore that, I think people should be given the option for that.”
Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is a method for recovering gas and oil from shale rock.
By drilling into the ground and pushing a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemical at rock, gas can be released from inside by splitting the rock open.
Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine prompted the government’s u-turn as the Russian president choked global supply. However, serious concerns remain over the impact of fracking – in particular earth tremors.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.