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UK Fracking Needs Local Support, but It’s Nowhere to Be Seen

  • Country’s shale industry failed to do more than a few tests
  • Practice unlikely to help bills and may hurt climate goals
The entrance to the abandoned well site in Balcombe, UK, on Sept. 21.
The entrance to the abandoned well site in Balcombe, UK, on Sept. 21.Photographer: Carlos Jasso/Bloomberg
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It’s been more than a decade since oil and gas drillers came to Balcombe, a village of fewer than 2,000 people in London’s affluent southern commuter belt. The only remaining evidence of their presence is an abandoned well site full of weeds, but the anti-fracking community that drove the industry away lives on. 

That’s a problem for Prime Minister Liz Truss, who lifted a national moratorium on exploration for shale gas on Thursday. A key plank of her plan to ease the energy crisis rests on an industry that has had little success in getting anything out of the ground. And the local support that she has made a requirement for any new drilling is nowhere to be seen.