25th February 2014
For the past five months, InvestigatingBalcombeAndCuadrilla.com has been trying to find out What do the Lib Dems really think about fracking?
The Department for Energy and Climate Change, under Lib Dem Ed Davey, is preparing to sell petroleum exploration and development licences (PEDL) which will cover about 60 per cent of the country. Yet in September last year, the Lib Dem conference passed motion 4(m), committing Mr Davey’s party to limiting shale gas exploration until it has been shown that:
- Regulations controlling pollution of water, methane gas emissions, sustainable use of water, monitoring of seismic activity and protecting local environmental quality are adequate and are strictly enforced.
- Methane emissions are properly monitored and accounted for in the UK’s carbon register so that the legal limits on greenhouse gas emissions in the UK’s carbon budgets are kept to.
We sent a set of questions to the Lib Dem press office in September, seeking to clarify how and when this would be achieved. We also asked for more detail about motion 4(n), which set conditions for any further shale gas exploration. These included “full community consultation and compensation”, a “right-to-buy” scheme and a low carbon transition fund, using a least half of the total tax take from shale gas exploration and production.
The press office didn’t respond, despite three reminders. We contacted our local MP, Norman Baker, who kindly forwarded the questions to Ed Davey. That was in November. We heard nothing.
Then this month Mr Baker wrote about the value of investigative journalism and the importance of holding politicians to account. We wrote to him again, asking him to give Mr Davey a nudge on our behalf.
He replied yesterday. This is what he said:
Unfortunately, for the Lib Dems, time is not on their side. If they really want to limit shale gas exploration, as motion 4(m) suggests, then the Department of Energy and Climate Change shouldn’t’ be preparing to sell the next round of PEDL licences this spring. By the time the party is writing its general election manifesto, the licence holders will be putting in applications for planning permission and environmental permits to carry out exploratory drilling.