MPs call for evidence on fracking risks

The risks of fracking in the UK are to be investigating next year by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Select Committee.

An inquiry will look at potential threats to water supplies and water quality, air, habitats and biodiversity and geological integrity.

It will also examine any environmental safeguards that are necessary to introduce through the planning system, as well as the implications of fracking on the UK’s obligations to reduce carbon emissions.

The committee is inviting written submissions of no more than 3,000 words. They should be submitted online by December 31st. Details here


The chair of the committee is Joan Walley, MP Stoke on Trent, who spoke against fracking during the second reading debate on the Infrastructure Bill. She said: “The evidence is there that fracking and regulation is not fit for purpose”.

She also said: “We risk increasing emissions at exactly the time when they should be rapidly reduced. So given that fracking will add to unburnable carbon and that it will not meet the two recommendations from the IPCC on coal and on methane claims that shale gas can reduce emissions do not stand up to scrutiny.”

Another member is Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion. She voted against the second reading of the Infrastructure Bill (our report) and argued against fracking during the debate.

“An effective response to climate change requires a complete shift to a carbon-neutral energy system within a generation in all the major economies including Britain. And we know how to do it. We have the technology, we have the engineering capacity and we can afford to do it. All we need is the political will because we cannot do it while making ourselves more, not less dependent on any kind of fossil fuel.”

Dr Lucas also spoke against fracking during an adjournment debate this month Our report  In 2011, her early day motion, calling for a moratorium on onshore exploration of shale gas, was signed by other members of the committee, including Joan Walley and Labour’s Martin Caton and Katy Clark.

A Conservative member of the committee, Neil Carmichael, writing earlier this year in his local paper, the Stroud News and Journal, said “There is no need to worry about fracking in Gloucestershire. It absolutely won’t happen. But I do think we have a duty to the people living now and in the future to lower energy costs and fracking in this country could achieve that.”

Two other members of the committee, Zac Goldsmith (Conservative) and Alan Whitehead (Labour) supported the Are We Fit To Frack report by a consortium of environmental groups. The report’s recommendations included shale gas extraction exclusion zones to avoid sensitive wildlife areas and water resources.

Full committee:

  • Joan Walley, chair (Labour, Stoke on Trent)
  • Peter Aldous (Conservative, Waveney)
  • Neil Carmichael (Conservative, Stroud)
  • Martin Caton (Labour, Gower(
  • Katy Clark (Labour, North Ayrshire and Arran)
  • Zac Goldsmith (Conservative, Richmond Park)
  • Mike Kane (Labour, Wythenshawe and Sale East)
  • Mark Lazarowicz (Labour, Edinburugh North and Leith)
  • Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion)
  • Caroline Nokes (Conservative, Romsey and Southampton North)
  • Matthew Offord (Conservative, Hendon)
  • Dan Rogerson (Liberal Democrat, North Cornwall) – junior environment minister
  • Caroline Spelman (Conservative, Meriden), former Environment Secretary
  • Mark Spencer (Conservative, Sherwood)
  • Alan Whitehead (Labour, Southampton Test)
  • Simon Wright (Liberal Democrat, Norwich South)

More details of the committee

2 replies »

  1. I realise there has to be intelligent debate on what I consider is unpleasant, dangerous because that drilling and the operations involved would far too close to the public therefore a hazard to health and safety. Personally I have attended talks on Fracking, seen two documentary films this year.
    My opinion is all Fracking in the UK will not be given a license.
    There are alternatives and they should be recognised as the best way to deal with Climate Change so we must stop dithering and get a move.

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