Fracking Week in Westminster – w/e 12th June 2015

Transcripts and reports of parliamentary debates, questions and answers about fracking and onshore oil and gas for the two weeks ending 12 June 2015

  • Public opposition to fracking outweighs support
  • Green MP calls on Labour to leave fossil fuels in the ground
  • Gas versus renewables in bid to reduce carbon emissions
  • The price of not drilling for shale
  • Welsh control over fracking decisions

With thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com

10th June 2015

Opposition debate on climate change

Caroline Lucas, Green, Brighton, Pavilion

I welcome this debate. I was delighted to notice earlier today that nine Labour Members of the European Parliament joined the Greens in voting for a Europe-wide moratorium on fracking. Will the right hon. Lady reconsider her and her party’s position on fracking given the importance of what she has just said—that what we do at home sends a really strong signal about the seriousness with which we treat leaving fossil fuels in the ground?

Caroline Flint, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

As the hon. Lady will know, we have been very clear—we made it very clear at the tail end of the last Parliament—that no fracking should take place unless the safeguards that we set out in amendments in Parliament are in place to allow it to go ahead. She knows as well as I do that 80% of our heating comes from gas, so we have to think about where gas fits into the picture, but fracking has to be done safely. She will also know that I think we should have a review of the possibilities for green gas, because all the evidence shows that that could be a major contributing factor in making sure that we can still heat our homes as we come off fossil fuel gas.

David Mowat, Conservative, Warrington South

On the UK goal to reduce carbon emissions by 80% emissions by 2050
Four things have made that more difficult than it needs to be. First, we have confused renewables with decarbonisation. We have gone after renewables targets when we should have been going after decarbonisation targets. The impact has been that we have not spent enough time on either carbon capture and storage or nuclear power. We also have not spent enough time looking at gas as a very viable alternative to coal. I will mention just one statistic as I wrap up in the last 30 seconds. If the world were able to replace all our coal with gas, that would be the equivalent to increasing the amount of renewables we have by a factor of five. Those who oppose fracking need to think about that. This is a very serious issue and it will not be solved by slogans.

Written answers

10th June 2015

Question by Julie Elliott, Labour, Sunderland Central

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, what recent estimate her Department has made of the proportion of people in the UK who support (a) onshore wind, (b) nuclear power and (c) fracking.

Reply by Andrea Leadsom, The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

The Department’s most recent estimates of UK public attitudes (covering the UK) were published on 28th April 2015 and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/424507/PAT_summary_wave_13.pdf

The results indicate that 65 percent support onshore windfarms. This is lower than the proportion in favour of solar, offshore wind and wave and tidal technologies while 78 percent were in support of renewable energy developments providing direct benefits to the communities in which they are located. An estimated 39 percent support nuclear power compared to 21 percent opposed with 36 percent neither in support nor opposed; and 24 percent support fracking (shale gas) compared to 26 percent opposed with 44 percent neither in support nor opposed.

3rd June 2015

Question by Lord Wigley, Plaid Cymru

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether onshore fracking for gas in Wales will become the responsibility of the National Assembly for Wales.

Reply by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Conservative

The Welsh Government already has substantial control of onshore oil and gas activities through planning controls and environmental regulation as these are devolved. Through the relevant planning authorities in Wales, the Welsh Government has the power to take decisions on individual shale projects.

The Government will implement the St David’s Day Agreement in full which includes devolving licensing functions for onshore oil and gas exploration to Welsh Ministers.

2nd June 2015

Debate on the Queen’s speech in the House of Lords

Lord Crickhowell, Conservative

The new Energy Bill announced in the gracious Speech may give a boost to the UK oil and gas offshore industry, but it will be introduced against a background of declining North Sea oil and gas output, down by almost 40% since 2010. As the Economic Affairs Committee observed, the industry response remains uncertain. It also concluded that the development of shale gas in the UK on a significant scale would provide substantial benefits. The depressing thing is that once again we seem to be firmly stuck in a quagmire. There is a great deal of talk and not much effective action. he Economic Affairs Committee concluded that the regulatory framework was dauntingly complex: “Unless the Government act to streamline the system so that regulation is effective as well as rigorous, the UK will be unable to take full advantage of the economic opportunities offered by shale gas … The Government must take decisive measures to quicken the pace of exploration and development of the UK’s shale gas resource”.

It listed the measures that are needed. I have seen little evidence so far that decisive measures have been taken. We will want to know very early in this Parliament that they are now being taken. If we do not see drilling starting in the near future, it will be unforgiveable, and I fear that the nation will pay a heavy price.

2 replies »

  1. “She will also know that I think we should have a review of the possibilities for green gas, because all the evidence shows that that could be a major contributing factor in making sure that we can still heat our homes as we come off fossil fuel gas.”

    Maybe Caroline Flint can explain what is this “green gas” that isn’t a “fossil fuel gas”. It sounds wonderful!

  2. Green gas is an obvious component, but even a full scale implementation would reduce gas demand by just 5%. Worth doing for sure, but thinking it will replace fossil fuel is something only a millionaire space case subsidised by the government would have us believe in. Dale Vince, that’s you!

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