Fracking Week in Westminster – w/e 19th June 2015

Transcripts of parliamentary questions and debates on fracking and onshore oil and gas for the week ending 19th June 2015.

  • Post-abandonment monitoring
  • Waste water treatment
  • Fracking revenues for Lancashire
  • Exploration licences and planning approval

With thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com

18th June 2015

Written questions: Energy and Climate Change

Question by Peter Lilley (Conservative, Hitchin and Harpenden)
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, what discussions her Department has had with the Environment Agency on post-abandonment monitoring of onshore shale gas wells; and what steps she plans to take to ensure a monitoring regime is in place.

Reply by Andrea Leadsom, The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change
The duration of monitoring required after decommissioning/well closure will be assessed on a site-by-site basis by the Environment Agency. The environmental permit requires the operator to have in place a closure and rehabilitation plan, which must be agreed with the Environment Agency before decommissioning begins. The operator will not be allowed to surrender their permit until the Environment Agency is satisfied that there is no-ongoing risk to the environment.

17th June 2015

Prime Ministers Questions (George Osborne standing in for David Cameron)

Question by Geraint Davies (Labour/Co-operative, Swansea West)
Will the Chancellor confirm that the waste water from fracking will be properly treated, so that it is safe to drink again?

Reply by George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer
We will have the proper environmental standards around the exploration of shale gas, but I think for this country to turn its back on one of these great natural resources, which other countries are using, would be to basically condemn our country to higher energy bills and not as many jobs. Frankly, I do not want to be part of a generation that says, “All the economic activity was happening somewhere else in the world, and was not happening in our country, and was not happening on our continent.” So we should get on with the safe, environmentally protected exploration of our shale gas resources.

Question by Caroline Lucas (Green Brighton, Pavilion)
Today sees a mass lobby here in Westminster of people who are demanding urgent action on climate change. Since coal is the most damaging of the fossil fuels, does the Chancellor agree that as well as phasing out coal, we in this House have a responsibility to divest our parliamentary pension fund from fossil fuels, as has been done in Norway very recently?

Reply by George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer
It is way above my pay grade to interfere with the parliamentary trustees of the pension fund here, and I leave the decisions on investments to them. I agree with the hon. Lady that the lobby of Parliament today is important and the Paris talks at the end of the year are a real opportunity to get a global commitment to binding standards and carbon targets. Britain will play its full part. What we want to achieve is dealing with those greenhouse gas emissions and meeting our international obligations on climate change, but doing so in the cheapest way possible for the consumers of electricity here in Britain.

16th June 2015

Treasury Questions

Question by Graham Jones (Labour, Hyndburn)
The Chancellor’s Government keep talking about the Tory fantasy of a northern powerhouse, which never mentions Lancashire. Is it still his Government’s policy on the Treasury revenues from fracking that 1% will go to Lancashire and more than 60% will go to Whitehall?

Reply by George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer
I gave the original speech on the northern powerhouse in Lancashire, if we count Manchester as being in the traditional county—[Interruption.]

Intervention by John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons
Order. Mr Jones, it is unseemly. I thought you were on an apprenticeship to become a statesman, but it has a long way to travel. It is courteous to hear the Chancellor. Let us hear him.

Reply by George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer
I think it will be one of those four-year apprenticeships, at this rate. I will say to the hon. Gentleman something which I know is not universally agreed with: I think the potential for shale gas in the north of England is a massive boost to the local economy there. I know it is not always popular with some local communities. That is why we have made sure that the benefits go to local communities, and we committed in our manifesto to creating a sovereign wealth fund for the north of England from the revenues from shale gas exploration so that we get a lasting benefit to the natural resources of that part of our country.

Written Question: Environment

Question by Lord Greaves Liberal Democrat
To ask Her Majesty’s Government in respect of which areas (1) they have granted licences for exploratory drilling in relation to fracking, (2) applications have been made for such licences but have not yet been determined, and (3) applications have been made for planning permission relating to exploratory drilling for fracking.

Reply by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Conservative
Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDLs) are not specific to shale gas. They grant exclusive rights to extract hydrocarbons, including shale gas but also other forms, within a particular onshore area. A separate consent is required before any drilling or hydraulic fracturing (fracking) can take place. So far, the Government has granted hydraulic fracking consent for shale to Cuadrilla’s Lancashire operations.

The Oil & Gas Authority does not have any undetermined consent applications. Applications for new PEDLs under the 14th Onshore Licensing Round are being considered – 95 applications for 295 licence blocks have been made.

Planning permission is a matter for the local Mineral Planning Authority. However, the applications submitted by Cuadrilla in Lancashire and by Third Energy in North Yorkshire are in the public domain.

2 replies »

  1. Abandoned wells, and there are likely to be thousands as the industry progresses, shall be there FOREVER and therefore have the potential to cause environmental and health problems FOREVER; as per USA. How will a limited timescale “closure and rehabilitation plan” prevent public finances having to be used to deal with these potential ticking time bombs in the future? This is not a legacy I would be proud to leave for future generations to deal with especially when there are alternatives if the right amount of investment were put into them..

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