Industry

Government dismisses call for independent oversight of shale gas

The Energy Minister, Matthew Hancock, has insisted UK shale gas is already strongly regulated, in response to a call for independent scrutiny of the industry.

Mark Menzies MP

Mark Menzies

Mark Menzies, the MP for Fylde in Lancashire, where Cuadrilla is applying to frack up to eight shale gas wells, urged the government to establish an independent panel to oversee regulation of the industry.

He put forward a written question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to establish an independent panel to oversee the regulation of the shale gas industry.”

But in a reply received this week, the Energy Minister, Matthew Hancock, said: “The UK already has a strong regulatory system which provides a comprehensive regime for exploratory activities.”

Matthew Hancock

Matthew Hancock

He added: “To reinforce this system, the Infrastructure Act 2015 introduced a range of further requirements that must be met before an operator can carry out hydraulic fracturing. These include environmental impact assessments, groundwater monitoring, community benefits and the exclusion of protected areas.”

In February, Mr Menzies and four other Conservative MPs voted against the government on the requirements for fracking included in the Infrastructure Act. In January, he voted for a moratorium on fracking.

The details of the requirements mentioned by Mr Hancock are to be decided by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. This must be completed by the end of July and is unlikely before the General Election.

Cuadrilla is applying to drill and frack at two sites in the Fylde. A decision by Lancashire County Council’s planning committee is due before the end of April.

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