Fracking Week in Westminster and Holyrood– w/e 4th March 2016

Westminster and Holyrood

In this special Fracking Week in Westminster:

  • Kevin Hollinrake asks about community benefits from fracking
  • Peter Aldous calls for realism over onshore shale
  • In the Scottish Parliament, Labour and the SNP clash over INEOS and Scotland’s fracking moratorium

With thanks to for the transcripts

House of Commons Treasury Questions

1st March 2016

Kevin Hollinrake

Question by Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative, Thirsk and Malton
An application for shale gas exploration in my constituency may result in many millions of pounds in community benefits. Does the Minister agree that those community benefits should go to the communities most affected by development?

Damian HindsReply by Damian Hinds, Conservative, East Hampshire and Exchequer Secretary
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor has said that the shale wealth fund could deliver up to £1 billion of benefits to communities hosting shale gas development. This is in addition to the existing industry scheme. My hon. Friend is entirely right that it is important that communities see those benefits and have the reassurance of additionality.

Westminster Hall debate on the offshore oil and gas industry

3rd March

Peter Aldous MPExtract of speech by Peter Aldous, Conservative, Waveney
We must be realistic about the role that onshore fracking will play in the immediate future. It will have to overcome planning hurdles, and it should be pointed out that in the US they have known about large tight gas fields since the 1930s. They are working those now because new technology has made that viable. In the UK first we must establish the extent of those fields and then we must assess their full economic viability and establish the infrastructure to service them. We already have that infrastructure in the North Sea, so it makes sense to make best use of it.

Hannah Bardell MPExtract of speech by Hannah Bardell, SNP, Livingston, SNP business, innovation and skills spokesperson
The [US}] industry has developed new innovative technologies. It has gone back and re-fracked wells and has been able to operate at a much lower price than anybody had expected, which has been causing additional pressure.

Questions to the First Minister, Scottish Parliament

3rd March 2016

Kezia Dugdale MSP

Question by Kezia Dugdale, Labour MSP for Lothian
Here is the SNP’s formula: condemn it; freeze it; order a big report; then go ahead and do it anyway. That is its approach not just to council tax. The SNP says that fracking is bad, and it has imposed a temporary freeze on that. A big report has been ordered, but all the signs are that the SNP will go ahead and do it anyway. Labour would not allow fracking in Scotland. Can the First Minister give the same guarantee?

Nicola Sturgeon MSP

Reply by Nicola Sturgeon, SNP MSP for Glasgow Southside and First Minister
We will not allow fracking in Scotland because we will not take risks with our environment while there are still unanswered questions. That is why we have a moratorium in place.

Kezia Dugdale
The First Minister’s back benchers do not like her answer on fracking, because all their leaflets say that they are going to oppose it. All across the country, SNP candidates are telling voters that there will be no fracking under the SNP; they are the same people who promised to scrap the council tax. People deserve the truth. We know where the Tories stand—they are for it. We know where the Lib Dems stand—they voted for it at their conference. We know where the Greens stand—they are against it. I have said where I stand—Scottish Labour will go into the election with a very clear manifesto commitment to oppose fracking.

If Jim Ratcliffe of Ineos can get a straight answer, why cannot the people of Scotland? Fracking: yes or no, First Minister?

Nicola Sturgeon
Let me put it simply: there will be no fracking in Scotland because there is a moratorium on fracking. That is what a moratorium means—it ain’t allowed to happen. We will not take risks with our environment while there are so many unanswered questions. That is the responsible way to proceed.

Labour members stand up here, week after week, and say whatever they like about what they would do because, as we already know from Kezia Dugdale, they are going to come second in the election.

Kezia Dugdale
Jim Ratcliffe of Ineos says that he has had private assurances from the Government that the SNP is not against fracking. He says that the Government “are being quite clear. What they’ve said to us is they’re not against fracking.”

What does he know that we do not? Freedom of information requests show that her environment agency and the Department of Energy and Climate Change have agreed to stop minuting conversations on fracking. The Government has tendered for research into decommissioning on fracking. If the First Minister is not planning to frack, why is she preparing for the clean-up?

Can the First Minister tell us whether the SNP promise to stop fracking is a real promise or just an election pledge?

Nicola Sturgeon
I know that Labour is desperate, and I know why, but that really takes the biscuit. For the avoidance of doubt, let me say again that there is a moratorium on fracking in Scotland. It is clear and simple: there is a moratorium on fracking. That means no fracking.

Coming up

Friday, 11 March 2016

2nd reading of private members bill by Geraint Davies: Fracking (Measurement and Regulation of Impacts) (Air, Water and Greenhouse Gas Emissions) Bill

7 replies »

  1. Can we have a clear summary of the benefits to the communities who will suffer the pollution, the heavy traffic on minor roads, the probable poisoning of the aquafers, because where I am living in North Yorkshire we see only the long term harmful effects on our wonderful countryside.

    • Hi Anna. It should help you relax that the US EPA did a 5 year study into fracking which currently is the worlds largest and most comprehensive taking in over 950 scientific and technical papers as well as peer reviewed studies and testimonies from stakeholders and it confirmed that fracking was not causing widespread groundwater contamination. In fact, to date fracking under equivalent circumstances to the UK has NEVER caused groundwater contamination, even with hundreds of thousands of wells and over 2 million frack jobs.

      The EPA report was as such:
      Executive Summary (Major Findings: Section 17):
      “We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”

      This went to review over its precise working and the Science Advisory Board chairman (Dr. David Dzombak) stated that:
      “The conclusion by the EPA in the June 2015 draft Assessment report stating “We did not find evidence that hydraulic fracturing mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States” is accurate, clear, concise, unambiguous, and supportable with the facts EPA has reviewed”

      also note from page 6:
      “If a systemic or widespread issue had been identified, the EPA and the state regulatory agencies would have quickly responded to such findings. In the absence of such documented events, the conclusion is clear that no systemic, widespread impact to drinking water resources is occurring. To suggest otherwise, undercuts the work and dedication by the employees of those federal and state agencies who are charged with environmental protection.”

      So fracking itself absolutely IS NOT causing groundwater contamination. Anyone who says they have proof it is is lying to you.

      That is plainly obvious because the case in the Gasland movie just went to court this week after 6 years waiting. They called activist/scientist ex Prof T Ingraffea and on the stand he was forced to admit that he had no scientific evidence that fracking had caused water contamination; this being 6 years after the anti fracking movement along with Prof Ingraffea has been telling the world that it does and that they had proof. They dont and they were lying to you, me and everyone else.

      What has been happening is that some wells leak, but you cannot blame that on fracking and really the ‘anti fracking’ movement is either an anti fossil fuel movement or anti drilling movement. Fracking itself has been very well documented not to be causing a problem.

      However, the headline shout by anti fracking groups that ‘some wells leak and so ban fracking/drilling in the UK’ is false and deceptive. The examples they quote as well integrity issues from the US are really just poor well construction which led to the wells leaking and as such cannot be applied to the UK where the regulations would never have allowed those wells to have been built anyway.

      • Garry….. the US does not have equivalent circumstances to the UK….that’s the whole point!

        The UK has thicker shale than the US giving rise to an understanding that this provides greater more favourable pathway for frack fluid to migrate further than previously known to happen, thus showing fracking should not happen in the UK.

  2. I’m sorry Anna, I have to disagree with Gary regardiing the US Environment Protection Agency ( EPA ) study.

    It would appear that the EPA’s study falls far short in its research in to the potential risks and dangers of fracking, as this following report states.
    Google search…….. EPA’s Findings In Fracking Water Pollution Disputed By Its Own Scientists, 19 November 2015.

    As additional evidence, I would suggest you read this VERY IMPORTANT article which certainly raises some serious questions.
    Google search……….EPA’s Abandoned Wyoming Fracking Study, One Retreat Of Many – ProPublica

    As you will note, the above report highlights the EPA’s catalogue of failures, the financial restrictions that have been placed upon on it and the fierce pressure the agency is put under from the Fracking industrys powerfull allies on Capitol Hill.

    It would appear that the EPA is nothing more than a Lion without teeth, with a “quote” Kick Me sign on it.

    • I’m afraid Gary is out of date. The EPA is currently reviewing that conclusion because an independent body of scientists looked at the EPA’s report and conclusion and criticised the outcome and the methodology. We await their revised conclusion in June of this year – but preliminary feedback has implied the EPA will change their conclusion to one that acknowledges local impacts are severe and they were wrong to state there was no widespread water contamination – we shall wait and see.
      And as for Kevin Hollinrake, a community benefit payment that will no doubt repair roads and refurbish a community centre will not compensate individual loss or put right the industrialisation of the area people live in. He may as well be a PR consultant for the fracking industry and has completely lost touch with his constituency.

      • Yes it is worrying that Kevin Hollingrake ignores all protest against fracking in his constituency. Yet more worrying is how Ebberston ever got permitted for conventional drilling, given proximity to AONB, and how permissions were granted upon AONB for other mining now taking place. (not to mention the worst trip of a lifetime last year along the road Pickering to Osmotherly where mass acres of land, valleys and moors had been burned for mindless grouse shooting….the worst journey ever last May…so much for an AONB boast of a land of beauty—we felt physically sick at the end of it)

        Any money for the local community seems to exist in a car park taking over where a trout pond used to be….! Perhaps the rest of its community benefit funding pays for Kevin Killingrake’s Disney tour telling everyone how life in frackland will be beautiful all the time….

        The AONB is a secret society it would seem and travelling the area and talking to local people draws tuts and looks of fear often as well as behind hand and shifty looks, protests and statements of alarm, at how this macho male dominated council is allowed to do what it wants when it wants, and it seems it is unaccountable to all…try find out who the members of this council are and post it on here please…difficult to track….

  3. Anna, all Yorkshire folk are worried about the impact upon water, and at the NYCC meeting in February this year many questions were asked of Yorkshire Water’s capacity to deal with fracking demands upon water supplies.

    Already in 2013 water supplies were already being over abstracted across 13 reservoirs in the Yorkshire region, and that’s before we householders have supplies restricted due to commercial demand being allowed great access than residential needs under the Acts demands that industry rules all.

    Not only that Yorkshire water is the second highest modified water basin across Europe, while angling societies are already warning of how much of our regions water beds is heavily polluted and no fish to be caught. In fact a court case successfully won by fishlegal made YW more publicly accountable over how they are dealing with water in our region. Before this is was like dealing with a secret society!

    Yorkshire is land of ancient spas and aquifers, with much tourist industry depending upon the pristine nature of the environment housing it.

    We all know our water supplies are not being monitored properly and regulations are being flaunted, due to poor funding for the EA, and protections being handed over to industry caring more about profit than wildlife and habitats, leaving the wider environment heavily at risk. Gas abstraction will impact heavily upon this already disastrously controlled natural resource.

    A 424-page report into fracking impact upon water found fluids migrated unpredictably — through different rock layers, and to greater distances than previously thought — in as many as half the cases studied in the United States. The EPA identified some of the chemicals as biocides and lubricants that “can cause kidney, liver, heart, blood, and brain damage through prolonged or repeated exposure.” It found that as much as a third of injected fluids, benzene in particular, remains in the ground after drilling and is “likely to be transported by groundwater.”

    Many of those posting on here about how safe regs are, prefer to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the fact that:-
    There isn’t a map of underground networks across water supplies and rock face at the hydrofrack level, thus rendering statements of how safe fracking is, null and void.
    They will be entering new territory with fracking with one EA spokesperson at NYCC stupidly declaring what a wonderful opportunity this is to experiment and find out more…..ergo doesn’t mind using us as guinea pigs in some half baked scientists wet dream to discover and become the new hero..over the dead bodies of wildlife and human disease—so we can learn the lessons…

    It is a fact that water industry already struggles to keep water safe to drink and the World Wildlife org declared twenty years ago that by 2020 there would not be enough to sustain growing populations in the north by 2020… this government’s response rolling out more irreversible pollution to land via fracking it, is like dropping a WMD on the northern nation.

    Clearly some other posters here have not read a broad enough database before dolling out their saccharin laced Prozac statements.

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s