How MPs voted in yesterday’s fracking ballot

Conservatives regulation

Four Conservative MPs voted against the government yesterday to allow fracking under national parks and other protected areas. They were: Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London and MP for Richmond Park; Jason McCartney (Colne Valley), Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) and Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight).

Find out how your MP voted

In the last parliament, Jason McCartney and Andrew Turner voted against the government on the Infrastructure Bill, while Zac Goldsmith and Sarah Wollaston abstained.

A total of 91 MPs didn’t vote in yesterday’s ballot, including 39 Labour, 30 Conservatives and 5 SNP.

Several of those who didn’t vote have constituencies where onshore oil and gas drilling is a key local issue. These include Conservatives Andrew Tyrie (Chichester) and Greg Knight (East Yorkshire) and Labour’s Lindsey Hoyle (Chorley) and Julie Cooper (Burnley).

One Labour MP voted for the government’s regulations: Jim Fitzpatrick, the MP for Poplar and Limehouse.

Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, where Third Energy wants to frack a well, voted for the regulations. As did his party colleague, Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde, where Cuadrilla wants to frack up to eight wells at two sites. Mark Menzies voted against the government in the Infrastructure Bill debate in the last parliament.

Other Conservatives who voted for the regulations included Nick Herbert (Arundel and the South Downs), whose constituency includes drilling licences in the South Downs National Park, and Jeremy Quinn (Horsham) whose constituency includes the West Sussex village of Balcombe.

50 SNP MP voted against the regulations but five members of the party did not vote.

From the smaller parties, only UKIP’s Douglas Carswell voted for the regulations. Of MPs who describe themselves as Independent, Michelle Thomson (Edinburgh West) did not vote and Lady Hermon (North Down) voted against.

Summary vote

298 in favour of the regulations

261 against the regulations

91 did not vote

Summary of MPs who voted yes

296 Conservative

1 Labour


Summary of MPs who voted no

192 Labour and Labour Co-op

50 SNP

7 Lib Dem

4 Conservative

2 Plaid Cymru

2 Social Democratic and Labour Party

2 Ulster Unionist Party

1 Green

1 Independent

Summary of MPs who didn’t vote

The 91 MPs didn’t vote in yesterday’s ballot on fracking under national parks were made up of:

39 Labour and Labour Co-op

30 Conservative

8 Democratic Unionist


4 Sinn Fein

1 Social Democratic and Labour Party

1 Lib Dem

1 Independent

1 Plaid Cymru

(The Speaker is also included as ‘didn’t vote’)

Find out how your MP voted

30 replies »

  1. So labour could have defeated the motion if they’d all voted! Good to know they can’t be trusted anymore than the Conservatives! [edited by moderator]

  2. Comment posted on behalf of Paul Melnyczuk, Editor and writer Homefarmer.co.uk

    As someone who promotes growing veg and keeping livestock, and lives on planet Earth, it would be wrong not to mention the recent climate talks in Paris. Whatever your position on this matter, the scientific evidence is now overwhelming that action does need to be taken if we are not to be remembered as some sort of Bond villain by our descendants in a couple of hundred years’ time. The general view from environmental campaigners was that world leaders have finally grasped the fact that climate change is a bigger threat than previously thought, and they have agreed to work together to do something to tackle it. However, the agreement does not commit any country to act, and the US actually conceded that a requirement to do so would scupper any possibility of agreement as such legislation would simply never be passed. So, the fate of Pacific islands with land only a metre or so above sea level remains uncertain, and the accusation from many developing countries that the current perilous state in which the planet finds itself is a result of pollution which made richer countries rich, remains uncontested.

    To bring matters closer to home, it is appropriate to look at the UK’s position with regard to the ‘more or less’ agreed commitment to keep future temperature rises to below 1.5 degrees – rather than the previously agreed 2 degrees. There is a commitment to cease burning coal, and although commitment is required to end our dependence on fossil fuels, the British government has extended its commitment to the shale gas industry by going back on a pledge not to extract from beneath national parks, and to ensure it becomes a reality by overriding all sense of local democracy. Of course, I speak as a Lancastrian here, living just up the road from the Fylde, where our long-established tourist industry and agriculture is to be sacrificed for the sake of a short-term desperation on the part of a small number of companies to make lots of cash. Even ignoring the much-publicised risks it presents to the environment, the fact that as a fossil fuel it has no future is sufficient to destroy the argument that it will be a significant investment for the region and our job prospects.

    When it does come to an end in 20 years’ time we’ll be looking to find jobs for all our agricultural and tourism workers, at the same time as looking to retrain our ‘highly skilled’ frackers. And if there is an argument that it is no good under highly prized countryside, why is it considered good under my home and those of others, together with schools and hospitals?

    Recently, one of the more prominent campaigners supporting fracking, Professor Paul Younger, who holds the Rankine Chair of Engineering at Glasgow University, withdrew his support for the industry on the grounds that the UK government had pulled a billion pound commitment to carbon capture and storage. Professor Younger was quoted as saying that the UK government’s new position on carbon capture and storage now means that fracking would be pointless. He even resigned as a director with a company intent on pursuing underground coal gasification to make his point. And with subsidies now withdrawn from much of the renewables industry just as it was becoming competitive, it really leaves us with little option but to pursue a nuclear pact with China, which is involved in a major land-grab in the Pacific, and a new round of arresting dissidents for even the most minor social media dissent. With the prices agreed by our own government, this is likely to become an even worse fiasco than PFI funding for hospitals.

    Perhaps environmental campaigners have set their sights low so as not to come away disappointed, or to at least claim that something positive was agreed in Paris. The general consensus was that an ambition to keep global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees is a positive step forwards, but I still have an ambition to join Tim Peake on the International Space Station – sadly, it probably won’t happen. No world leader is going to reject proposals to keep climate change under control, but the fact that none are prepared to make a binding commitment means that in practice they will. The fact that China and Saudi Arabia are both allowed extra leeway as so-called ‘developing nations’ is more than enough evidence to suggest that the talks are little other than an attempt to be seen to be doing something, and an ideal opportunity for ‘selfies’ with any world leaders a little further up the ladder. I really hope I’m wrong, and there is undeniably optimism from a number of organisations. I just hope that when I’m outside County Hall in Preston again, protesting about Communities Secretary, Greg Clark’s right to override our local democracy in order to kick-start fracking in the UK, that we get lots of the ‘big guns’ in town to support us, otherwise Paris will have been a major waste of everyone’s time and money, and our role as the most evil Bond villain to date will be secured for posterity.

    • But then there were also 30 Conservatives and 8 DU who also didn’t vote. So I doubt that the result would have changed if everyone voted, even with the missing SNP?

      • A lot of the time what happens is opposing Ayes and Naes pair up to be absent at the same time. This allows them to be absent simultaneously to attend to other business without affecting the outcome of the vote. Don’t read too much into people being absent and “…it might have been different, only if…”


      • Amis,

        Methanol is made from methane but not on the drilling site. Methanol can be used to surpress hydrates in natural gas production however it is unlikely that it will be used below the wellhead. Down hole injection is possible into the tubing string but this will not go into any acquifers. I also doubt that there will be a case for downhole hydrate surpression in these wells and also expect that the EA would not permit it. So your water will not be “poisoned” with methanol. However the EA has to take your drinking water supply into consideration and if there are risks as you describe, there will be no drilling. I don’t know where you live in Lincolnshire but there has been plenty of oil and gas drilling there before, I believe since before WW2. Is your property close to any of these fields and have you had water quality issues from your boreholes? Shale gas production will not impact wildlife. Surface site preparation / traffic may have some very localised impacts as would any surface construction such as road building. This is why NE / RSPB etc. are consultees at the planning stage. But condiderably, exponentially, less impact than agriculture.

    • There will be very little impact on agriculture from shale gas exploitation. In fact farmers who lease their land for well sites and pipelines will make good money, certainly better than they are making now even with the CAP hand outs. And please don’t go on about water pollution from shale gas. The biggest polluters of our water in the UK are farmers. Look at nitrates. Look at the state of our rivers from dairy farming. Look at soil erosion and increased flood risk from arable farming. As for tourism, not sure about this one. But I doubt there are many tourists who go on holiday to the flat boring farmland that Cuadrilla are trying to drill on.

      I have to agree with you Paul that the Paris agreement is unlikely to achieve much. Lets see in 5 years time but human nature is such that this will all be put on the back burner as economies develop and grow, and a meddle class develops and expands. If you currently ride a pedal bike you aspire to a motor bike. If you have a motor bike you want a car……..

      • Please go away. The licence holders have compulsory purchase powers. Fracking is pillage and will be resisted if it gets over the very significant hurdle of being high cost and uncompetitive in an ever softening market awash with hydrocarbons. Watch as the US shale junk bonds implode and spread toxic financial mayhem, again.

      • Having visited Pennsylvania – fracking has damaged their agriculture in many ways. From carving up farmland for pads and pipe laying, polluting boreholes and farmworkers leaving to work for fracking companies. Their government is very concerned. Their farmers get royalties our do not – so our farmers risk all these downsides and few will see any upside. Farmers in Australia also claim coal bed methane extraction has damaged their agricultural industry as well. In a very tragic case a farmer took his own life because of the damage the industry caused his farm and that he was powerless to oppose. A farmer close to me said it took decades to get the topsoil back to the condition it had been when they laid the gas pipelines across some of his fields.

      • You are a fool and stupid to think Fracking is more dangerous than farmers. Your comments are so un-educated and wholly wrong !. Get educated before you comment on something that you clearly know bugger all about !.

    • There will be great impact on agriculture, as any land fracked is little use for farming afterwards, the old wells pretty much leak methane for a long time afterwards. And with the potential poisoning of the water table (which I think accounts for 37% of Lancashire’s water supply, the rest from rainfall), who knows what will happen? Even sadder is the fact that you and me will have to pick up the bill for the clean up of the land after the fracking companies have declared bankruptcy. If it is even possible to completely make safe agricultural land afterwards.

      The topic of agriculture toxicity is relevant, and fhe farce of the CAP, in the sense that this should be a holistic debate about land use in what will become a post-capitalist world, not just about fracking or fossil fuel use. it is clearly evident with increasing population worldwide, and the failure of neo-liberal economics to provide sustenance for that population, a different philosophy is required.

      Industrialied mono-culture farming is a bigger existential threat to homo sapiens worldwide than fracking and climate change, with the soil degredation that is going on. Increasing bio-diversity and introducing long-term permaculture localised food growth will be essential. Thus the land given over to fracking is in direct competition for land we will need for survival. We already import nearly 50% of our food, by 2050 that will be over half. if the frackers get their way, then 65% of our arable land will be given over to fracking, thus taking it out of the production change. So by 2050, we might be needing to import 75% of our food.

      Only by then, even ignoring any affects of soil degredation and climate catastrophe, the world population will be 9 billion – those countries that we currently buy off simply will not have food spare to sell to us.

      Whilst the Conservative obession with fracking is tantamount to a declaration of war on the British population, it is a mere symptom of a much bigger problem.

      I too agree that the COP21 in Paris is somewhat toothless, and certainly gives scope for governments to do nothing that will have any affect. Until they’ve worked out a way for the fossil fuel companies to make money out of going to renewable energies that is…..

      • Mark – I think you will find that the land take in the event (unlikely) that shale gas is commercial in the UK and proceeds to development will be a lot less than you think. Councils should push for pad drilling aka offshore which is centralised well pads with several wells drilled directionally. Oil companies will generally drill onshore wells vertically as it is lower cost however it will be easier (relatively) to get planning permission for a few pads rather than many individual well locations. Also readers need to be aware that not all these wells will necessarily be “fracked”. The sandy nature of the geology in the Bowland shale may lead to some wells being productive without “fracking”. But I expect most readers of this blog will be anti conventional, unfracked wells even if they drive cars and have gas central heating. My understanding of the EA permit system is that permits will not be issued for wells which intend to drill through acquifers used for, or which have the potential to supply, water for potable use. I recall seeing a map on line which shows the no go areas from an acquifer standpoint.

    • The FoE map I saw today of the new licenses show new licenses overlapping water aquifers, including one near me, and I don’t particularly trust the EA, as there are conflicts shall we say within the agency. By the time we get to planning applications, it’s staffing levels will be so low that they will have to rubber stamp all applications to get anything done at all.

      I heard about the pad drilling, the US frackers have resorted to it to reduce costs, bizzarely in one random sample the local bird life actually increased for one species in the change from many separate wells to the fewer multi-drill pads. That’s not an increase on pre-fracking levels, just an increase since the change in fracking style.

      I don’t think there will be any fracking or drilling anyway, there was a 2013 geologist report that basically said our shale is the same as in Germany/Poland, deep and narrow, rather than the American wide and shallow, and as Germany and Poland have proven, our type of shale is unfrackable. Well, you can frack it, as Preese Hall debacle showed, but all you’ll get is earthquakes and broken drill bits. I haven’t seen that geology report debunked, although the author was the subject of the usual trolling from the industry.

    • Fracking pads are usually about 5 acres – so the amount of land taken will of course depend on how many pads are constructed. Also don’t forget compressor stations and dehydration plants, gas processing plants etc.
      The majority of the licences issued (75%) are for unconventional gas extraction so that means onshore directional drilling/fracking and some coal bed methane extraction.
      The difference with conventional wells is that the gas will flow without intervention/fracking and the gas tends to flow for many years – unlike shale. I for one – and I suspect many people would not be concerned about conventional gas, other than with regard to climate change and new fossil fuel extraction.
      I understand we cannot phase out fossil fuels immediately but I am sure fracking is not the right solution.

  3. It would be good to know if they just weren’t there or whether they actually abstained – otherwise how can we know why this vote which could have been won, was lost.

    • I think the problem in Poland may have been that there was too much CO2 in the gas? The BGS report linked in my comment below contains a good map showing the extent of the upper and lower Bowland Shales.

  4. Julie Cooper (Labour, Burnley) did reply to my email about fracking generally, or at least her office did, she said she would be in local surgeries so wouldn’t be at the vote. She did state she would have voted against this particular bill, and would be trying to persuade her fellow MPs to vote against it.

    Just highlights the archiac nature of our so-called democracy, it is good an MP is taking part on local issues via surgeries, but it this prevents them voting on key issues, is it fit for purpose? If we can set up voting via TV for X-factor sh1te, am sure we could set up a secure voting system for 600 or so MPs whether they are out in the sticks or not.

  5. I would imagine she was ‘paired’ with a pro-fracking Tory MP who also had another engagement thus her not voting is neutral, Standard House of Commons practice.

  6. I’ve been trying to work out for a couple of week something that has been troubling me and the penny has just dropped. Why has a lucrative seam of semi precious Polyhylite has been abandoned and a potash mine with 50 years worth of supply is laying people off and closing down in the North York Moors. It’s because it is in the way. If there is a shale oil and gas seam at 1200 metres in the NYM as claimed then it is at the same place as the potash. It is also a shallower depth than the Potash Mine which is at 1400m – This means that they would be drilling into a seam 600ft ABOVE where the pit face is and mines are working and pouring toxic chemicals into the mine. As shale oil is worth more to the Government than Potash you can see where this is going – all this considering that licenses for North Yorkshire were issued last year. However, there is a 1000 kilometers of underground roads down there that are driven by necessity through geological fissures. So expect subsidence and earthquakes ‪#‎westminsterscum‬

    • You’d have to check, but I thought the shale beds where the gas is in the north are much further down, at about 8500′ down (2500 approx). It doesn’t invalidate your point of course, drilling through old mine workings will have interesting outcomes, most likely unpleasant ones.

  7. Shame Kevin Hollinrake wasn’t as principled as his colleagues – well he will no doubt be finding out about now just exactly how the majority of his constituents feel about this – and I think it is fair to say the majority are not happy.

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