Tories’ target seats will be opened up for fracking, says Greenpeace

Poll of marginal constituencies finds low support for fracking from voters across the political spectrum

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More than three-quarters of the Tories’ top target seats in the next general election have been opened up for oil and gas exploration, Greenpeace has claimed.

As the Government launched the latest bidding round for onshore oil and gas licences, which covers around half the country, the environmental campaign group warned that the licensing area also covered freshwater aquifers and intruded on 10 national parks.

The analysis by Greenpeace comes after a ComRes poll of more than 1,000 people in the 40 most marginal constituencies found low support for fracking from voters across the political spectrum.

Three areas of Britain, in the north and south of England and in Scotland, have been identified by the British Geological Survey (BGS) as prospective areas for shale gas and oil.

But the latest licensing round opens up a far larger area for potential fracking or other oil and gas exploration – though it is likely energy companies will focus on areas where resources are easiest to access.

Analysis by Greenpeace suggests 24 of the 31 constituencies represented by MPs in the Cabinet are affected by the new licence area, while 31 out of 40 target seats in the Conservative 2015 election strategy are also affected.

Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Simon Clydesdale said that putting out the new licensing round after MPs had gone on holidays showed how “politically toxic” an issue fracking had become.