Friends of the Earth map highlights fracking threat

New analysis reveals over a quarter of English local authorities covered by oil & gas licenses
  Published:  21 Sep 2022    |      2 minute read
  • Onshore oil and gas licences map is here
  • A Friends of the Earth briefing on fracking is here

An interactive map showing the areas across England that could be threatened by onshore oil and gas extraction - including fracking - has been published today by Friends of the Earth.

Later this week the government is expected to publish more details on its plans to lift the moratorium on fracking, which Liz Truss announced earlier this month.

The Friends of the Earth map allows people to enter their postcode to see if their area is covered by an onshore oil and gas licence. Companies with such licenses have the right to explore for oil and gas, which could involve fracking. Many of the licenses cover the Bowland Shale Formation, a geological area of interest for fracking that stretches across the Midlands and the North of England.

The Friends of the Earth map and data analysis reveal that:

  • 91 local authorities in England (out of 333) have oil and gas exploration licences. Information on the number of licences, the total area they cover, and the proportion of the local authority covered by licences is here. 
  • There are 143 parliamentary constituencies, mostly in the North of England and the Midlands, that are covered by onshore oil and gas licences.
  • 61 of these constituencies had a majority of less than 10,000 at the last election. 32 of these have a majority of 5,000 or less.
  • 19 constituencies with an onshore oil and gas licence changed from Labour to Conservative at the last general election (although one has subsequently reverted back to Labour in a by-election) – all of which are in the North or the Midlands. 18 of these had a majority of 10,000 or less and 9 had a majority of 5,000 or less.

Later this week the government is expected to reveal more details of its plans to end the fracking moratorium. The government is also expected to publish a report it commissioned from British Geological Survey (BGS) into the latest scientific evidence on fracking.

The government has yet to explain how it intends to only allow fracking “where there is local support” or whether it intends to cave-in to lobbying to water down rules that safeguard local communities and their environment from earthquakes caused by fracking. Last week the Guardian reported that a leaked copy of the BGS report admits that forecasting fracking-induced earthquakes and their magnitude “remains a scientific challenge”.

Earlier this month a Survation poll for RenewableUK revealed that only 34% of people were in favour of fracking – while some 77% of the 6,114 people polled by backed the use of wind and solar farms.

Friends of the Earth fracking campaigner, Danny Gross, said:

“Shale gas extraction causes earthquakes and contributes to climate breakdown and will do almost nothing to reduce energy bills.

“Fracking is by far the most unpopular and least effective way of generating energy in the UK and has been opposed by communities wherever it has been attempted.

“Any attempt to water down the rules that help safeguard people from the threat of fracking will only fuel its unpopularity.

“If Liz Truss wants to build a strong economy for the future, she should champion home insulation and the UK’s plentiful renewable resources. They are cheap, quick to develop and are popular with the public.”


Notes to editors

1. These local authorities have licences which cover their entire area (100% of the local authority under licence):

• Blackpool

• Fylde

• Mansfield

• Bolsover

• Chesterfield 2. Friends of the Earth is calling for the government to introduce a council-led nationwide street-by-street home insulation programme – focussing on those most in need.