UK Labour party pledges to ban fracking if it wins next general election

Jeremy Corbyn previously committed to pursuing an environment agenda that prioritises renewable energy

UK Labour party pledges to ban fracking if it wins next general election

Barry Gardiner. Screenshot: Labour / YouTube

Labour in the UK has announced it will ban fracking if it wins the next general election.

Shadow energy and climate change secretary Barry Gardiner told the party's annual conference in Liverpool that a Labour government would introduce an "outright ban" on the controversial practice.

He said: "Today I am announcing that the next Labour government will ban fracking in the UK. 

"Fracking locks us into an energy infrastructure that is based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to renewables.

"The next Labour government will back the clean technologies of the future.

"We will consult with our colleagues in industry and the trade unions about the best way to transition our energy industry to create the vital jobs and apprenticeships we are going to need for the UK's low-carbon future."

But the plan has been criticised by Labour's former shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint, who pointed to the UK's reliance on imported gas.

She told Sky's All Out Politics: "If you are going to say 'ban an energy source', you have got to fill it with something else.

"We can't just be against things. We have to explain what our policy is and what we stand for when it comes to energy."

The fracking announcement follows newly re-elected party leader Jeremy Corbyn's commitment three weeks ago to pursue an environment agenda that prioritises renewable energy over traditional mining and fossil fuel sources.

Mr Corbyn warned Britain was on course for a "climate catastrophe".

He wrote in The Guardian: "2016 is set to be the hottest on record. Unless the Paris agreement's target of limiting the rise in temperatures by 1.5C is met, heatwaves like that in 2003, which killed tens of thousands of people in Europe, will become the norm.

"And that is before considering rising sea levels and desertification that will sink cities, and kill and displace millions, or the fact that the Earth has already lost half its wildlife in the past 40 years.

"The task for politicians is to propose real solutions to the single most important issue facing humanity."

Mr Corbyn's decision to put energy reform at the heart of Labour's re-election ambitions will give the government a new opportunity to attack the party for being anti-business.

The Conservatives have pushed for the development of Britain's shale gas industry, claiming it would create jobs and growth, reduce energy prices and cut the country's reliance on gas imports.