In this Fracking Week in Westminster:
- Questions from Jim Cunningham and Lord Young on the role of shale gas in UK energy
- Lisa Nandy and Jonathan Reynolds accuse the government of confusion on fracking in National Parks
- Ben Howlett calls for protection from fracking for Bath’s spa water
Thanks to TheyWorkForYou for the transcripts
2nd November 2015
Question by Jim Cunningham, (Labour, Coventry South)
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, what recent assessment her Department has made of the role of fracking in meeting the future energy needs of the UK; and if she will make a statement.
Reply by Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom
The Written Ministerial Statement by my rt. hon. Friends, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 16 September 2015 (Official Report, Column 34-38WS), sets out the Government’s view that there is a national need to explore and develop our shale gas and oil resources in a safe, sustainable and timely way, to help meet our objectives for secure energy supplies, economic growth and lower carbon emissions.
A successful shale industry could help create jobs and grow local economies. Investment in shale could reach £33billion and support up to 64,000 jobs in oil, gas, construction, engineering and chemical sectors. The opportunity to extract this energy, as well as to secure jobs and investment, cannot be ignored.
4th November 2015
Point of order by Lisa Nandy, shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change
The House will be aware that last week a statutory instrument was passed upstairs in Committee that would allow surface-level drilling in national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty for the purposes of what is commonly known as fracking. It is yet to be taken on the Floor of the House, but today the Government issued a consultation on this very subject on their departmental website, which at the very least causes considerable confusion, but at worst may supersede the statutory instrument itself. Have you received any indication from a member of the Treasury Bench or a Government Minister that they intend to make a statement on the subject to the House.
Reply by the speaker, John Bercow
I am bound to say to the hon. Lady that I have received no such indication. To date, nothing disorderly has occurred and, as I understand it, the relevant regulation has not been passed. Whether the issue of the consultation paper is to the taste of the hon. Lady or others is a matter for her, but with regard to propriety and order, nothing improper or disorderly has occurred.
I must answer factually that, as of now, I have received no such indication, although what might be thought to be a request for such a statement will have been heard on the Treasury Bench.
Third Reading of the Energy Bill Energy Bill in the House of Lords
Extract of speech by Lord Young of Norwood Green
I would welcome some comment from the Minister that we understand the importance of developing this part [shale gas fracking] of our energy policy. If we take into account the recent situation at Redcar, we know that the cost of energy is an important factor in our ability to produce things such as steel, and for other vital industries. I welcome a ministerial response on that.
5th November 2015
Question by Jonathan Reynolds, shadow transport minister (Labour, Stalybridge and Hyde)
This Government are all over the place on the issue of fracking in national parks and protected areas. Having vowed to ban it in January, they last week proposed to allow it, and now they say that they want to ban surface drilling inside those areas again. Can the Secretary of State confirm whether fracking will be allowed under national parks and protected areas, and what effect that will have on noise, light and air pollution?
Reply by Elizabeth Truss, Environment Secretary
I would have thought that the hon. Gentleman would welcome the extra protection that the Department of Energy and Climate Change has put in place. Let us be clear that under the Environment Agency we have the best possible protection for the environment, to ensure that any fracking is done in a safe and environmentally friendly way.
Business of the House
Question by Ben Howlett (Conservative, Bath)
As we heard earlier, last week the Delegated Legislation Committee voted through the fracking provisions. Although there are protections for UNESCO world heritage sites, such as that in my constituency of Bath, the spa water that feeds into the spas sits outside the protected zone. My constituents are genuinely concerned about that. Does the Leader of the House agree that a debate is desperately needed on that issue?
Reply by Chris Grayling, Leader of the House of Commons
That matter will clearly come before the House, and provisions for fracking include tight rules on the level at which it can take place. Through the Health and Safety Executive, we have probably the finest regulators of safety in the energy industry and workplace anywhere in the world. My hon. Friend should be confident that they will ensure that any fracking that takes place will be done with the utmost technological care.
6th November 2015
Question by Jim Cunningham
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, how many sites are approved for fracking in England and Wales; what the location is of each such site; and if she will make a statement.
Reply by Andrea Leadsom
Licensing and consent of onshore oil and gas activities in England is now a matter for the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA). Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences are not specific to shale gas. They grant exclusive rights to extract hydrocarbons, including shale gas but also other hydrocarbons, within a particular onshore area. A separate consent from the OGA is required before any drilling or hydraulic fracturing (fracking) can take place, as well as planning permission, environmental permits and review of the well design by the Health and Safety Executive. The OGA does not have any undetermined consent applications.
Updated 9/11/15 to include question by Jim Cunningham asked on 6th November, details of which were released on 9/11/15