Liz Truss Struggles To Explain Local Consent

This morning Prime Minister, Liz Truss, gave a series of car crash interviews on BBC local radio stations.

Quizzed by Graham Liver on BBC Radio Lancashire, she struggled to explain what she meant by local consent and why she felt fracking should go ahead here in Lancashire.

During the short (four and a half minute) interview segment she referred to only fracking with community consent no less than 11 times, yet she was unable to explain what she meant by it or how it would be measured.

All we learned was that “the Energy Secretary will be laying out in more detail exactly what that looks like” and (amazingly) that “it does mean making sure there is local support for going ahead“.

More chillingly she said “we will make sure that that local consent is in place“, although she appeared unable, or unwilling to explain how she intended to do that.

The truth is that there is a vanishingly small amount of local support for fracking in the area surrounding the site at Preston New Road, which is the first likely target of this new push for fracking.

In a recent poll on a local Facebook group we saw that 9 out 10 of the 1,681 respondents voted “No to Fracking”

She is also fighting a headwind of official opposition with Lancashire County Council having voted against allowing fracking in 2015 and Fylde Borough Council having passed a motion accusing energy firm Cuadrilla of being “unable to guarantee public safety” in 2019.

It sounds as though Ms Truss and Mr Rees-Mogg have something of an uphill task on their hands, and they clearly have no idea how to execute it!

The following is a transcript of the interview (it does not, unfortunately, show the lengthy pauses that preceded most of Ms Truss’s answers)

Graham Liver 0:00
Liz Truss, Prime Minister, Good morning. Good morning. Lots to talk about. And I want to keep it local. And I want to talk about fracking. Let’s talk about fracking. We’re the only area of the country that has actually done it. And it caused earthquakes people’s houses shook. Why do you think it’s safe to continue because none of the science has changed?

Liz Truss 0:22
Well, what I want to be clear about is that we will only press ahead with fracking in areas where there is local community support for that, and the business Secretary has been very clear about that. Now, fracking is carried out perfectly safely in various parts of the world. And the business sector will make sure that any fracking that takes place is safe. But it’s very important for me as Prime Minister, that any fracking has local community consent, but I think we have to be clear about why we’re doing this. One, one thing that has happened is that the UK has become dependent on global energy prices. And we’ve seen through Vladimir Putin’s appalling war in Ukraine, how energy prices have shot up, and Russia has used the fact that it produces gas as a way of exerting pressure on other countries. And we simply don’t want to be in that position. So what I want to see is more homegrown energy in the UK. Okay, and that means using resources in the North Sea, it means more renewables, it means nuclear, and it also means fracking in areas where there is local support.

Graham Liver 1:33
You mentioned Jacob Rees-Mogg. In the House of Commons, he called people who didn’t support fracking Luddites, and said there was an air of hysteria about them. Do you agree with his comments?

Liz Truss 1:45
I wouldn’t have expressed it like that, I can assure you I, I am of the view that we need to have local consent to proceed with projects like fracking. I also support that for housing, what I want is, and this is why we’re setting up new investment zones across the country with local support to get the economy going to get investment into our country. And the same is true for energy projects as well.

Graham Liver 2:12
Let’s talk about local consent right now. What does that look like? Scott Benton. The Conservative MP for Blackpool South in a Tweet says he believes that people in Blackpool South do not support fracking. This is the Tory MP for Fylde, Mark Menzies, in the House of Commons.

Mark Menzies (Recorded) 2:29
“If the Prime Minister is to remain a woman of her word, and a woman in whom we can believe—and I believe she is—will the Secretary of State outline how that local consent will be given and demonstrated in my constituency of Fylde.”

Graham Liver 2:43
What does local consent look like Prime Minister?

Liz Truss 2:47
Well, the the the Energy Secretary will be laying out in more detail exactly what that looks like. But it does mean making sure there is local support for for going ahead and

Graham Liver 3:01
it sounds like you don’t know

Liz Truss 3:03
And I can assure…. And I can assure Mark Menzies, well, there are, there are various detailed issues to be worked through. But I can assure Mark Menzies that I will make sure there is local consent if we are to go ahead in any particular area with fracking,

Graham Liver 3:18
Your local MPs don’t want it all Conservative, in the past the county council have said they didn’t want it yet your government overturned it. The science hasn’t changed. Why can’t you tell us this morning there won’t be a return to fracking in Lancashire?

Liz Truss 3:33
Well, I don’t I don’t accept the premise of your question.

Graham Liver 3:37

Liz Truss 3:38
It’s certainly the case at present. Because what I’ve said is if there is local consent, we will go ahead, we need to explore where there is local consent, and where there isn’t. And we’re still doing that work.

Graham Liver 3:53
Your Chancellor

Liz Truss 3:54
I don’t think we should rule out the whole of Lancashire.

Graham Liver 3:56
You talked about how it is a success in other countries. But in America, they do it in the middle of nowhere. Do you actually know where Preston New Road is where they have been fracking?

Liz Truss 4:07
Well, I don’t I don’t think I’ve been to that site in the past,

Graham Liver 4:12
Shouldn’t you?

Liz Truss 4:16
Well, as I’ve said, we will only go ahead with projects where there is local consent. I’m very, very clear about that. Now, we will make sure that that local consent is in place, and if there is a concern about a particular site, those concerns will of course be looked at and taken into account.

Graham Liver 4:38
Let’s talk about people’s pockets….

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