Jacob Rees-Mogg supports 'outrageous' claim that Putin funded opponents of fracking

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Jacob Rees-Mogg has pointed to fracking as a means of bolstering UK energy security following Putin's invasion of Russia
Jacob Rees-Mogg has pointed to fracking as a means of bolstering UK energy security following Putin's invasion of Russia

JACOB Rees-Mogg has supported a "baseless" claim that Russian president Vladimir Putin has funded opponents of fracking.

The new Energy Secretary made the claims while defending the UK Government’s move to lift its ban on fracking shale gas.

Speaking on Thursday in the Commons, he said: “I’m well aware that there have been objections to fracking.

“But I would also note that there have been stories widely reported that some of the opposition to fracking has been funded by Mr Putin’s regime.”

Rees-Mogg has repeatedly pointed to fracking as a means of bolstering UK energy security in the wake of Putin's invasion of Ukraine, while also seeing it as a means of making the country richer.

READ MORE: Greenpeace considering fracking and North Sea drilling legal challenge against UK Government

Responding to the Energy Secretary's comments, shadow business and energy secretary Ed Miliband said the claims were an “absolutely outrageous slur” and described them as “shameful and disgraceful”.

Co-director of climate charity Possible, Leo Murray, said Rees-Mogg’s comments were a “complete smear by someone clutching at straws”.

He added: “The reality is that the overwhelming majority of the British people oppose fracking without any need of fictional handouts from the Kremlin.”

This follows a scientific report warning that forecasting for “large earthquakes” is still a “scientific challenge” – which may concern campaigners as in 2019 fracking caused an earthquake in Lancashire.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, Holyrood ministers have confirmed that the ban on fracking will be maintained north of the Border.

Scottish Energy Secretary Michael Matheson tweeted shortly after the announcement of the UK Government lifting its ban on Thursday morning.

He said: “To be clear – this policy change does not apply in Scotland.

“Fracking can only happen here if licences are issued by the Scottish Government and we do not intend to issue any licences.”

A spokesman for the First Minister later said there is no review point for the Scottish Government’s position on fracking.

The granting of licences for fracking are a devolved matter, meaning the policy will not impact Scotland unless Scottish ministers agree to it.

The Scottish Government has repeatedly adopted a policy position of no support for fracking, following a moratorium on the issue.

Earlier in September, Nicola Sturgeon was asked to clarify her Government’s position on fracking during First Minister’s Questions.

She said: “This is a devolved matter and our position is unchanged.

“We do not intend to grant licences for fracking.”