The shadow energy and environment secretaries called for a debate on the regulations in an open letter to their opposite numbers in government.
Labour’s Lisa Nandy (left, energy) and Kerry McCarthy (environment) raised the issue after last Tuesday’s vote by the Second Delegated Legislative Committee on the Draft Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing (Protected Areas) Regulations.
They told the Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, and the Environment Secretary Liz Truss, that Labour believed:
“Such important issues should be subject to a debate and a vote of the whole House.”
The regulations allow fracking at depths greater than 1,200m under National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites. There is no protection in the regulations for fracking in Sites of Special Scientific Interest and there are currently no regulations to ban fracking from the surface of protected areas, despite a government promise.
The SNP MP, Callum McCaig, asked for a debate on the regulations but was turned down by the leader of the Commons, Chris Grayling.
Ms Nandy and Ms McCarthy said in their letter, published yesterday, they were disappointed that the government appeared to be against a debate.
“We absolutely believe these weakened regulations fail to provide critical environmental safeguards, which must be re-introduced before any further developments in fracking can take place. Nothing that was said in Committee has allayed our concerns.”
Under parliamentary etiquette, MPs have a chance to vote on, but not debate, the regulations when they are put before the House of Commons, provided enough shout ‘No’ at the right moment.
At the time of writing, the government had not put forward a motion to agree the regulations so there is no date for when they will come before MPs. Ms Nandy and Ms McCarthy said:
“Could you confirm whether the government intends to press ahead and if so, can you confirm when you will be bringing forward the motion and the date of when a vote will take place on them?
“While we would be delighted if the government have had a change of heart, we are concerned that you are trying to push this through at short notice giving MPs and the public very little notice ahead of a deferred division or attempt through parliamentary procedural trickery to have a vote with less than a day’s notice.”