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Jacob Rees-Mogg says ‘widely reported’ stories claim some fracking opposition funded by Putin regime | Climate News

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“Widely reported” stories have claimed some of the opposition to fracking for shale gas had been funded by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime, Jacob Rees-Mogg has said.

As he was criticised by opposition and Tory MPs about today’s announcement to lift a ban on fracking in England, the business and energy secretary said he was “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.”

He was responding to a question from Labour’s Cat Smith, who said there “is no public support for fracking”.

Shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband later tweeted: “Absolutely outrageous slur by Jacob Rees-Mogg that people who object to fracking are funded by Putin.

“Shameful and disgraceful.”

Sky News has contacted the business department to ask for the evidence that informed the secretary of state’s claim, which was also made by the-then NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen in 2014.

The former secretary-general said at the time: “I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations – environmental organisations working against shale gas – to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas.”

But Mr Rasmussen did not detail the nature of his suspicions.

The drive to unlock shale gas stored in rock underground is part of a government bid to secure Britain’s energy security, since President Putin’s “illegal invasion of Ukraine and weaponisation of energy,” Mr Rees-Mogg said as he announced the lifting of the moratorium.

The moratorium on fracking had been in place since 2019 following a series of earth tremors and Conservatives representing seats in northern England hit out at the move to end it, which breaks a Tory manifesto promise.

Labour and several green groups say that the gas would take a decade to come on stream, and therefore would do little to enhance security. They say the government should cut demand, including by insulating homes, instead of increasing supply.

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