Fracking Week in Westminster – w/e 12/12/14

Transcripts of parliamentary questions, answers and debates on fracking and onshore oil and gas for the week ending 12th December 21014

This week saw the Infrastructure Bill’s Second Reading debate in the House of Commons.  A Lancashire Conservative MP voted against the Government and another warned he would not support the bill unless fracking regulations were strengthened. MPs criticised the government for not listening to people’s concerns about fracking. The shale gas industry was also accused of being too secretarive. See our report of the debate and extracts from MPs’ speeches

Also this week, there were questions on:

  • Radon contamination and fracking
  • Unforeseen risks of fracking – likened to asbestos and thalidomide
  • Role of Health and Safety Executive in approving fracking sites
  • Geographical boundaries of the shale sovereign wealth fund

With thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com

11th December 2014
Health questions
Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he has made of the potential for fracking of shale gas to result in radon contamination of homes.

Jane Ellison (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health; Battersea, Conservative)
A number of potential radon exposure pathways, including the presence of radon in homes, were considered in the recent report by Public Health England into the potential public health consequences of exposure to chemical and radioactive pollutants as a result of shale gas extraction.

Business of the House of Commons
Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton, Conservative)
Will my right hon. Friend find Government time to debate the recent annual report from the Government chief scientific adviser, “Innovation: managing risk, not avoiding it”, which concludes that, like thalidomide and asbestos, fracking could carry unforeseen risks? Such a profound allegation should be considered in Government time before any fracking applications are considered locally.

William Hague (First Secretary of State and Leader of the House of Commons; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
These are important issues. Hon. Members from all parties have strong views for or against fracking, and on the policies necessary to carry it out correctly. There will be questions to the Department of Energy and Climate Change next week, so that is the earliest opportunity for my hon. Friend to raise the matter further in the House.

Environment questions
David Nuttall (Bury North, Conservative)
Following on from the question from my hon. Friend Miss McIntosh, across rural England there are many concerns about the safety of the exploitation of shale gas, so can the Secretary of State confirm that no site will be given the go-ahead without approval from the Health and Safety Executive as well as the Environment Agency? They must be satisfied that any site will comply with strict safety criteria.

Elizabeth Truss (The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; South West Norfolk, Conservative)
I thank my hon. Friend for his question. He is absolutely right about the HSE, and of course the local planning process also has to be gone through. I commend to him the paper produced by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. They looked at these issues in detail and at experience from other countries, which shows that, provided the correct environmental regime is in place, fracking is safe to carry out and does have very limited impact on the environment.

Treasury questions
Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour)
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his statement of 3 December 2014, Official Report, column 314, on the Autumn Statement, what the criteria are for delineation of the boundaries of the north of England for the sovereign wealth fund.

Andrea Leadsom (The Economic Secretary to the Treasury; South Northamptonshire, Conservative)
As set out at paragraph 2.210 of the Autumn Statement, “proposals [for the long-term investment fund from shale gas] will be brought forward in the next Parliament.”

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