The Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, rebuffed suggestions this morning that there was widespread opposition to fracking around Britain. Instead, she said, it offered the opportunity for a new home-grown energy source.
She was responding in the House of Commons to a question by the Labour MP for Bolsover, Dennis Skinner, whose constituency includes the village of Calow. Last year a planning inspector ruled against a scheme there by Alkane Energy and Seven Star Natural Gas for two exploration wells. (DrillorDrop report)
Mr Skinner asked:
“Does the minister accept that there is widespread opposition to fracking in all parts of Britain? Will she congratulate, as I have done, the Calow residents in Bolsover for refusing to allow a drilling operation and getting it stopped, not only by the local authority but by her own inspectorate?”
Mrs Leadsom replied:
“I think it’s quite extraordinary Mr Speaker that honourable members opposite continually talk about the potential for shale gas as if it is some kind of disaster.”
The honourable gentleman himself comes from a very honourable and long-standing mining area. Now mining has a legacy that we will be dealing with for many years to come.”
“The shale industry on the other hand offers the opportunity to really create a new home-grown energy source that is vital for our energy security into the next decades.”
Before Mr Skinner’s question, the minister answered questions on fracking regulation by Kevin Hollinrake, the Conservative MP for Thirsk Malton.
His constituency includes the village of Kirby Misperton, where Third Energy has applied for permission to frack for shale gas. The constituency has 38 licence blocks for onshore drilling, more than any other constituency.
Mr Hollinrake asked Mrs Leadsom whether a single regulator and more independent monitoring – proposed by the Task Force on Shale Gas – would increase public confidence and give further protection to sensitive areas.
Mrs Leadsom replied:
“The Task Force’s 2015 report says that the regulatory regime is currently fit for purpose but my Honourable Friend rightly points out the proposal that if a shale gas industry does develop the government should consider creating a bespoke regulator.
“And on this I can absolutely assure him we will keep the regulatory regime under review to make sure it remains fit for purpose. On his second point about independent monitoring, I entirely agree with him and that’s why we’re already grant-funding baseline monitoring in North Yorkshire and Lancashire.”
- More parliamentary discussion on shale gas and onshore drilling coming soon in Fracking Week in Westminster