Kevin Hollinrake resigns as vice-chair of parliamentary group on fracking

Kevin Hollinrake

The MP who represents the North Yorkshire village where Third Energy wants to carry out fracking has resigned as the vice-chair of an industry-funded parliamentary group on unconventional oil and gas.

Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, said this afternoon:

“I can confirm that I resigned from my post as Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Committee (APPG) on Unconventional Oil and Gas on Thursday January 14th”.

In an email to the chair, MP Nigel Mills, he wrote:

“A number of constituents have contacted me to express concerns that my involvement with the above [the APPG] is inappropriate, due to the amount of sponsorship it receives from the oil and gas industry. Clearly, this would never influence any of us to take a particular view, but nevertheless, I think I should resign as an officer to make sure that my impartiality is not called into question.”

Mr Hollinrake’s resignation emerged when Frack Free Ryedale, a group campaigning against Third Energy’s planning application, criticised his position on the group and urged him to give it up.

He said: “I understand why Frack Free Ryedale has made its comments but I stand by my commitment to be open-minded and will not be distracted from my duty to represent my constituents, to get the best outcome for the future and to promote and protect our precious countryside”.

“If they had approached me directly, I would have been able to advise them of my letter of resignation from the APPG, which I sent to the chair shortly after being made aware of the funding issue”.

Chris Redston, of Frack Free Ryedale, said:

“We note that Mr Hollinrake now claims he resigned from this APPG committee last Thursday after constituents raised the issue of funding with him.”

“However, there is no confirmation on this on his website, Facebook page or Twitter account, and we wonder if this is simply an attempt at damage limitation, having been caught in bed with the fracking industry. Again.”

“It is simply not credible for Mr Hollinrake to claim that he had no idea that this APPG is funded by the fracking industry. One can only conclude that either Mr Hollinrake is not telling the truth, or is incompetent and unable to do the most basic background checks on a committee where he is the vice-chair.”

The House of Commons register for 2015 shows that APPG had received contributors from Cuadrilla, which has shale gas exploration rights in Yorkshire. PowerBase listed contributions for 2014 from IGas and INEOS, which also hold licences in the region, and the industry group, UKOOG,

According to these lists, funding has also come from: Arup (the consultancy which has prepared reports for Cuadrilla), as well as Total, Centrica, Calor Gas, Shell International, Schlumberger, Ground Gas, and the conference organiser, Shale Gas World.

The group is run by the international lobbying group, Hill + Knowlton Strategies Ltd, and its eight-member advisory panel includes INEOS, UKOOG and the Institute of Directors.

The APPG’s members include the MP Mark Menzies, who represents the Fylde constituency where Cuadrilla has applied to frack two sites. The chair, Nigel Mills, is the Conservative MP for Amber Valley, in Derbyshire, where INEOS was awarded a shale gas licence last year.

New independently-funded APPG

Mr Hollinrake is setting up a new APPG on shale gas regulation and planning, which he says will be independently-funded.

He said:

“I have been careful to be entirely transparent about my role in the debate about fracking in his constituency. I paid for my own trip to Pennsylvania in September 2015 to find out more about the fracking industry as part of the learning process to better understand how it would affect the constituency of Thirsk and Malton.”

“Since then I have spoken to many different people including the Environment Agency, the Health & Safety Executive, Public Health England, Yorkshire Water, the British Geological Survey, local authorities and representatives from the industry.”

“I joined the existing APPG on shale gas in May 2015 to increase the opportunities for this dialogue. However, when it came to my attention that the administrative function of the group was funded by producers, I resigned with immediate effect.”

“Having weighed up all the arguments I have concluded that fracking should go ahead in the constituency so long as it is monitored every step of the way.”

Chris Redston said Mr Hollinrake was “the last person” to set up a new APPG to investigate the regulatory system for fracking. He said:

“He has shown many times in recent weeks that he is strongly in favour of shale gas by voting to allow fracking under National Parks and then arranging secret Westminster meetings with fracking companies.”

The “secret meeting” referred to is a summit, organised by Mr Hollinrake for early February, to which INEOS, IGas, Cuadrilla and Third Energy have been invited. It has been criticised by opponents of fracking (see DrillOrDrop report).

Russell Scott, of Frack Free North Yorkshire, said:

“This secret meeting with fracking companies has angered many people in Ryedale, where it is seen as the first stage in planning a PR offensive designed to foist fracking on an increasingly unwilling local population.”

“The fact that he has been chairing a committee funded by the same companies for the last eight months does nothing to restore his shattered credibility.”

But Mr Hollinrake defended the meeting today:

“This is not a secret meeting, as details of it have been published on the website and mentioned in correspondence with constituents. The aim of the meeting is to ask producers to develop and publish a clear, five year local plan for shale gas exploration in my constituency to share with local residents so that, if fracking goes ahead, it is properly co-ordinated and regulated.”

House of Commons register on the APPG on Unconventional Gas and Oil

PowerBase report on the APPG on Unconventional Gas and Oil

APPG advisory panel

15 replies »

  1. Iyam SOOOOOoooooodisappointed, I had such good times anticipating all the fun of the fair many were actively engaged in producing for an event sometime soon……how dare he resign and take away the joy and delight of the many looking forward to a full on meeting with him on 9th Feb?
    Shame on you Mr Hollingrake for wasting our time,. not being up to the job of democratic accountablity, and not doing a more arduous money go round like the rest of us before you took up your trip to Pennsylvania……..Whitby’s Transylvania offerings for you……..

    What a time waster, can the electorate sue for this?

    • The problem with corridors of power and get rich quick ratdom John is that these people wear the Emperors new clothes well and fail to understand that there is more and higher intel outside those corridors than ever pranced about upon them

  2. Mr. Hollinrake thinks he can regulate this industry and “watch it every step of the way”….how many inspectors will you need and how many who will be resistant to any pressures or bribes and worry about losing their jobs? 32 states in the US have been trying to “watch” and regulate this industry for years and we are now in the thick of it and the Violations, spills, contaminations keep adding up and I’ve had many a conversation with oil and gas inspectors I’ve met and they tell me they worry about their jobs and pensions and it limits how much they will reveal and expose. Make sure you have good laws to protect “whistleblowers” so they don’t fear for any reason to come forward…Here the Gas Industry can and is even our State DEP (Dept. of Environmental Protection) and that makes the Department afraid and limits their ability to act more fully and freely.

  3. what about the secret questionnaire/survey that he has apparently emailed out to a select few is this questionnaire/survey still relevant then? is he still intending on using it? (see Ryedale fracking group facebook page for article/post)

  4. Kevin, by ‘secret meeting’, people mean what is being discussed is secret, as it’s not open to the public – not the location and time. Or perhaps you realised that and are being somewhat disingenuous? Again?

  5. It appears from this report that although Mr Hollinrake has resigned as vice chair of this APPG, he has not resigned from the APPG itself and will continue to attend the meetings. If this is true, then this is a truly astonishing decision. If he chooses to resign the vice-chair because the APPG is funded by the oil and gas industry, and he accepts that this is a bad thing, how can he possibly justify staying on the committee at all? Perhaps people can email or tweet him to ask him to clarify his position – kevin.hollinrake.mp@parliament.uk and @kevinhollinrake

  6. Furthermore, Mr Hollinrake has clearly taken a wide-ranging and balanced range of independent opinion about fracking, as he says above: “Since then I have spoken to many different people including the Environment Agency, the Health & Safety Executive, Public Health England, Yorkshire Water, the British Geological Survey, local authorities and representatives from the industry.” So that’s government agencies and those that would benefit financially from fracking then.
    We look forward to Mr Hollinrake posting something like: “I have spoken to many different people, including Medact, The Chem Trust, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, David Smythe, Breast Cancer UK, the RSPB, CPRE, the Wildlife Trust, Frack Off, New York State Environmental Department, Concerned Health Professionals of New York, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, the Freshwater Habitats Trust, Lancashire County Council, other political parties and most of my constituents.”
    If he does that, he might then be able to make the claim that is approaching this in an open-minded way. Just talking to government departments (who are determined to push fracking through come what may) and representatives of the fracking industry shows that rather than being open-minded, he is simply pushing through the government’s agenda on an unwilling and increasingly distrustful public.

      • On what basis do make the claim that he has consulted those people TW (apart from wishful thinking)? Serious question – I’m sure he’s have let people know if he had.

  7. TW, it’s not a matter of ‘understanding what their positions are’ – we know what the position of the industry is, and the government own blind determination to push this through, ignoring all the evidence that it’s a bad idea. It’s about hearing – and, crucially, actually listening to – the other side of the debate, not just dismissing it out of hand as it is contrary to the central government line. Mr Hollinrake still appears to consider himself ‘open-minded’, despite claiming “Having weighed up all the arguments I have concluded that fracking should go ahead in the constituency.” That is a definitively pro-fracking conclusion and he is doing everything he can to push through the government agenda, which is of course what he was put in place to do.
    As for ‘weighing up all the arguments’, he has consistently refused to go to presentations in Ryedale by people opposed to fracking, claiming they are not ‘balanced’. He also never tweets anything negative about fracking – despite being sent dozens of reports from various places by his constituents – and never responds to requests to read certain reports, e.g. from the Health Professionals of New York, Medact, the NY Environment department, etc. Whether he’s even read these key documents is open to question. On his return to the UK from his short trip to Pennsylvania, he concluded he was ‘reassured’ by fracking, and ignored all the evidence given to him by the community groups who have had their lives blighted by the industry.
    However, he doesn’t seem to have a problem sitting down with all the fracking companies in a closed room, or hosting Third Energy’s PR meetings in Kirby Misperton, or all the regulators, without demanding that these meetings have the same ‘balance’ that he criticises anti-fracking meetings for. Also, Mr Hollinrake always says that people who are anti-fracking should be more ‘open-minded’, whereas he never accuses those in favour of fracking of the same thing.
    So, to come back to your point, it’s highly unlikely that Mr Hollinrake has sat down and really listened to anyone who is against fracking and considered what they are saying. All he seems to care about is whether it is ‘discreet’ – not whether it will impact on the health of his constituents. Out of sight, out of mind.

    • Yes it is all about hearing and listening to the other side argument reasons and evidence. And the door can swing both ways. Unfortunately the current shale debates the opponents take the extreme stand of my way or the highway.

      • It’s my experience TW, that most opponents of fracking have undertaken extensive & thorough research. Personally, I’d have loved to find any good reasons for it to go ahead in the UK, rather than spend hundreds of hours of my time opposing it for all the overwhelming reasons that there are to do so. Sadly, I haven’t been able to find a single one. As Sir Richard Storey of Settringham, near Malton said at the NYCC consultation meeting in May 2016:- “Over recent years I have challenged everyone to tell me where I can see for myself anywhere in the world an example of friendly fracking. I have not had one reply.” https://drillordrop.com/2016/05/20/pick-of-the-quotes-from-third-energy-fracking-meeting/

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