In this Fracking Week in Westminster:
- Fylde MP, Mark Menzies, calls on government to ensure shale gas decisions are made locally
- Confusion in the House of Lords about oil and gas licensing in Scotland
Thanks to TheyWorkForYou for the transcripts
Written questions, 19th October 2015
Question by Mark Menzies, Conservative, Fylde
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, if he will ensure that decisions on shale gas well locations are taken by local authorities.
James Wharton, Local government minister
Planning law requires that applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the Local Development Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. This is why our planning guidance encourages Local Minerals Plans, where appropriate, to give clear guidance and criteria for the location and assessment of hydrocarbon extraction within Petroleum Licence Areas. I refer my hon. Friend to the Written Ministerial Statements of 16 September (HCWS201 and HCWS202) which set out the Government’s policy on timely decision-taking on planning applications relating to shale gas extraction.
Question by Mark Menzies Conservative, Fylde
My constituency faces the issue of shale gas extraction—the issue runs across many Departments. What steps are being taken by the Cabinet Office to co-ordinate efficiency across the Government on this important matter?
Reply by Matthew Hancock, The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General
There are many occasions when multiple Government Departments are involved in different parts of a single issue. I well remember visiting my hon. Friend’s constituency to discuss shale gas, and I would be delighted to meet him further to take these issues forward.
Debate on the Energy Bill, House of Lords, 19th October 2015
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Energy minister
On the specific question about fracking, I have to confess that I am not certain about the position, but I am endeavouring to find an answer, and perhaps I may come back to it during the course of the debate.
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
Perhaps I may expand slightly on what I said. Fracking is generally a very controversial issue in the United Kingdom, and it has become increasingly so following the recent conference of the Scottish National Party where there was a major debate about a moratorium on fracking. It is going to be a lively issue over the next few months and I think it is important that we know exactly what the current position is before the Bill gets to the House of Commons, and whether it will make any material changes to it.
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth
My Lords, it has now been confirmed that the Bill does not do anything in relation to fracking, but that the Scotland Bill does. So I hope that the controversy and the heated debate on fracking can be transferred to the Scotland Bill rather than to this one.