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Fracking week in Westminster (10-14th March)

17th March 2014

Transcripts of last week’s parliamentary questions and statements on

  • Noise from fracking
  • Estimated UK energy from shale gas
  • Stakeholder support for shale gas in Europe

With thanks to theyworkforyou.com

Question from Baroness Byford (Conservative)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they had made any assessment of noise which may result from fracking; and if so, whether the noise will be audible at ground level and to what radius.

Answer by Baroness Stowell of Beeston
There is a robust regulatory regime to ensure that any shale gas operations can be carried out in a safe and sustainable manner. Noise issues are assessed on a site by site basis through the planning and environmental permitting regimes and both the mineral planning authority and Environment Agency can put in place conditions to ensure that the level of noise may be suitably mitigated or controlled. They also have enforcement powers to take appropriate action if any noise limits are exceeded.

Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, reported to MPs on a meeting of the Energy Council in Brussels on March 4th
He said: “I argued that the EU could best enhance competitiveness in Europe by completing the internal energy market, investing in research, rationalising the EU’s approach to state aid, developing indigenous supplies – including shale gas – and concluding an energy chapter to the EU-US free trade agreement.

Question from Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the proportion of UK energy which may be supplied through extraction of shale gas over the next 20 years.

Answer by Michael Fallon, Energy Minister
The Department of Energy and Climate Change has not carried out an assessment of the proportion of UK energy which shale gas might supply over the next 20 years. The Department has, however, published an Environmental Report which is currently out for consultation as part of the process of strategic environmental assessment for further onshore licensing. The report is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/environmental-report-for-further-onshore-oil-and-gas-licensing

On the assumptions of its high scenario, this report estimates that production on new licences over 20 years could be some 4 to 8 trillion cubic feet. In addition, the British Geological Society (BGS) published an estimate of the gas in place in the Bowland-Hodder shale that underlies northern England, last year. It estimated that the most probable value of gas in place as 1,300 trillion cubic feet. The BGS is currently conducting a study of the Kimmeridge Clay of the Weald Basin in Surrey and Sussex, and the Oil-Shale Group of the Midland Valley in Scotland.

The Department’s energy projections suggests that over the next two decades, overall primary energy demand in the UK is expected to remain roughly stable with gas accounting for over a third of such demand. Until further exploration and testing can be done to determine the extent of shale gas that can be technically and commercially recovered, however, it is impossible to estimate the proportion it might supply in the UK’s future energy mix.

Statement by Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary, on the European Environment council meeting on March 3rd
On shale gas, the Commission explained their aim to ensure extraction and exploitation would command support and confidence in all stakeholders. The UK, Poland and Romania stressed the current legislative framework was adequate and questioned the implication that the Commission would bring forward legislation in 18-months’ time. The Commission said the review clause allowed the Commission to take action if member states failed to fulfil their promises. A number of member states supported the establishment of a sub-group to deal with key problems in the review of the large combustion plant best available techniques reference document.

The majority of member states endorsed a greenhouse gas target of at least 40% with the UK and Sweden calling for a prospective target of 50% in the context of an ambitious agreement. The Secretary of State clarified that the UK could support a binding EU renewables target of 27% providing it could never become binding on member states nor be translated into national targets via EU-level action.

Question from Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will make it his policy that planning permission is only granted on condition that shale gas pads pipe water and gas on and off sites.

Answer by Nicholas Boles, Minister of Planning
Local planning authorities are able to attach planning conditions to a planning permission to mitigate the effects of any development and make an otherwise unacceptable proposal acceptable in planning terms. Conditions must be necessary, relevant to planning and to the development, enforceable, precise and reasonable.

In that context, a local planning permission for shale extraction will wish to outline the appropriate arrangements for the transport of materials and equipment and may address the issue of piped connections and highway movements. The appropriate solution will ultimately depend on local circumstances of the individual application.

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