Fracking Week in Westminster – w/e 25th September 2015


In this Fracking Week in Westminster:

  • The basis of government claims about revenue and jobs generated by shale gas
  • Fracking on the northern coast of Northern Ireland
  • The impact of shale gas on UK carbon budgets
  • Energy minister’s inconvenient truth for anti-fracking protesters
  • Unconventional gas in Wales

Thanks to TheyWorkForYou for parliamentary transcripts

24th September 2015

Written questions on fracking – House of Lords

Lord GreavesQuestion by Lord Greaves Liberal Democrat
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by the Prime Minister on 11 September (HC9076), on what evidence they base the statement that “investment in shale could reach £33 billion and support 64,000 jobs in the oil, gas, construction, engineering and chemical sectors”; how many wells would be required to achieve such levels of investment and employment; and over what time period such levels would be achieved.

Reply by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Conservative
EY’s 2014 report, ‘Getting Ready for UK Shale Gas: Supply chain and skills requirements and opportunities’ identifies that over the period of 2016–32 c.£33bn of spend could be required to bring up to 4,000 wells into production. At peak this equates to around £3.3bn of spend and some 64,500 jobs (6,100 of which are direct roles).

The full report can be viewed at: http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/Getting_ready_for_UK_shale_gas/$FILE/EY-Getting-ready-for-UK-shale-gas-April-2014.pdf

Written questions – Scottish Parliament

SarahBoyackQuestion by Sarah Boyack, Lothian, Scottish Labour
To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S4W-26063 by Fergus Ewing on 22 June 2015, when it will provide a substantive update on its plans for a consultation and accompanying work on unconventional gas and fracking.

Reply by Fergus Ewing
Further details of the consultation and accompanying work will be announced in due course.

Written questions – Welsh Assembly

PeterBlackQuestion by Peter Black, Lib Dem, South Wales West
Will the First Minister make a statement on the Welsh Government’s policy on fracking and the extraction of coal-bed methane in Wales?

Reply by Carwyn Jones, The First Minister
We have adopted a precautionary approach to unconventional gas activity in Wales as uncertainties remain about the potential impact of extracting the resource on the economy, environment and people of Wales.

23rd September 2015

Andrea LeadsomEnergy minister, Andrea Leadsom’s blog: Shale gas – an inconvenient truth for the anti-fracking lobby (extract)
The anti-fracking lobby seem to think there is a bottomless pit of bill-payers’ money to fund renewable energy generation. There isn’t, and even if there was, we would still need gas – as a reliable source of electricity when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.

Even as our reliance on fossil fuels for generating electricity reduces, we will still need to use gas for heating and cooking in our homes and for producing products including soap, paint, clothes and plastic.

The Task Force on Shale Gas was clear about this, stating that “it is not feasible to create a renewable and low carbon industry in the short term in the UK that can meet the UK’s energy needs as a whole.”

This means that gas will continue to play a big part in our energy mix for years to come and that’s why the Government is looking into the opportunity of using home-grown shale gas supplies instead of relying on overseas imports.

If we are going to make this work, we need to make sure that it is entirely safe, protecting the environment and minimising the impact on local people.

The UK has over 50 years’ experience of safely and successfully producing gas in this country, both for onshore and offshore. We will be using all our expert knowledge as we explore for shale gas.

Shale gas will bolster our energy security and provide jobs and financial security for communities and families across the UK. An independent study says there could be 65,000 new jobs from a successful UK shale industry.

In 2003, we were a net exporter of gas. By 2030 we expect to be importing close to 75% of the gas we consume. By making the most of our home-grown gas we can safeguard our own domestic supply whilst also cutting our carbon emissions.

There’s also a huge financial benefit for local communities. We are working with industry to make sure local people, communities and local authorities keep some of the income from shale gas development.

Operators will pay communities £100,000 for each exploration well site plus 1 per cent of production revenue, worth £5m-£10m, to be used as the community sees fit.

It’s an inconvenient truth for those who don’t want to acknowledge the economic and environmental benefits that Shale gas could bring, never mind the crucial role it could play in ensuring we have sufficient and reliable gas supplies.

People quite rightly expect Government to explore all the options to deliver on our goals of keeping the bills low, the lights on, and moving towards a greener future.

22nd September 2015

Oral environment questions – Northern Ireland Assembly

RobinSwannQuestion by Robin Swann UUP
Will the Minister assure the House that the [Northern] area plan will ensure that lignite mining and fracking will not proceed in the area?

Reply by Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party
I thank the Member for that question. As regards the issues that the Member raises, the area plan does not deal with such things. They are dealt with separately under planning policy. I remind the Member of my view on fracking and lignite mining, which, I hope, will be strengthened following the publication of the SPPS: no such activity should, could or will be carried out in the absence of sound and safe evidence that it is sustainable and is not detrimental to our environment or to human health. Each application will be judged on its own merits. To date, no application has been received anywhere in the North for fracking. If the Member has ongoing concerns about lignite mining, I would be happy to meet him to discuss those at a later date or even later this afternoon.

 21st September 2015

Written questions on fracking – House of Commons

Ian LucasQuestion by Ian Lucas Labour, Wrexham
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, what assessment she has made of the effect of shale gas extraction on delivery of the (a) second and (b) third Carbon Budget.

Reply by Andrea Leadsom, Energy Minister
The Government’s independent advisory body on climate change, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), has considered the role of shale gas in previous reports about carbon budgets to 2027[1]; this included the second and third carbon budgets. They concluded that UK shale gas production can be consistent with meeting our carbon targets.

The Infrastructure Act 2015 places a new requirement on the Secretary of State to seek advice from the CCC on the likely impact of onshore oil and gas production (including shale gas) on meeting our carbon budgets and our 2050 80% emission reduction target. The first CCC report is due by 1 April 2016.

For an overview of the CCC work on shale gas please see also http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/environmental-audit/EAC-Shale-gas-letter.pdf

Updated 28/9/15 to include question by Sarah Boyack and reply by Fergus Ewing

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