Politics

Fracking Week in Parliament – w/e 25th March 2016

 

Westminster

In this Fracking Week in Politics:

  • Cat Smith on community veto and local decision-making for fracking plans
  • David Nuttall on protecting protected areas from shale development
  • Peers on how “planning in principle” affects fracking
  • Neil Findlay on Scottish government meetings with shale gas companies
  • Sarah Boyack on cost of fracking research

Thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com and the Scottish Parliament for the transcripts

UK Parliament

Energy and climate change debate

24th March 2016

Cat SmithCat Smith, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Junior Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Labour, Lancaster and Fleetwood
Does the hon. Lady agree with me and many of my constituents that it flies in the face of Ministers’ claim to be the greenest Government ever when local people have a veto on onshore wind, but that when it comes to fracking, particularly for my constituents in Lancashire, local views are not heard or represented?

Andrea LeadsomAndrea Leadsom, The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, Conservative, South Northamptonshire
The hon. Lady is of course completely wrong, because all shale applications are subject to the local planning system, so communities absolutely do have a say on every planning application for hydraulic fracturing.

David Nuttall MPDavid Nuttall, Conservative, Bury North
What steps is she taking to prevent protected areas from being adversely affected by the development of shale gas.

Andrea Leadsom
Shale gas could become a valuable new industry and it is in the strong interests of the UK to explore its potential. However, we are determined to protect our most valuable spaces, and therefore it is our intention to ban surface-level drilling in the most precious areas, including national parks and sites of special scientific interest. We have also regulated to make sure hydraulic fracturing cannot take place at less than 1,200 metres under protected areas.

David Nuttall
I thank the Minister for that reply. Although I am sure it will allay the concerns of some, does she believe that more can be done to extol the positive virtues of shale gas, including, for example, the new jobs and security of energy supply it will bring?

Andrea Leadsom
My hon. Friend is right to point out that there are lots of benefits of shale gas. The first is energy security, as we could be importing about 75% of our gas by 2030. The second is jobs, as the industry could mean jobs and opportunities for the UK, with a report by Ernst & Young estimating that a thriving shale industry would create up to 64,000 jobs. The third is benefits to communities, as those hosting shale developments will see a direct share of the benefits through an industry-funded package, and the shale wealth fund will mean that up to 10% of the tax revenues from shale gas deliver investment directly to local communities.

Written questions to Department for Communities and Local Government

24th March 2016

Question by Cat Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, if he will ensure that the final determination on fracking applications is made by local authorities.

James WhartonReply by James Wharton, Minister for Communities and Local Government, Conservative, Stockton South
Local authorities lead the process for the consideration of planning applications for shale gas exploration under the Town and Country Planning regime. Under this regime an applicant has a right of appeal to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in clearly specified circumstances. The Government has taken steps to ensure this locally led regime is effective, as set out in Written Ministerial Statements of 16 September, HCWS201 and HCWS202. Community involvement in planning applications and people’s safety and the environment will remain paramount.

Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords, amendment on permission in principle (PIP)

22nd March 2016

Lord GreavesLord Greaves, Liberal Democrat
What can PIP—I think I will call it that—be used for? It was invented last October—that recently—as part of the brownfield sites proposals. Since then, it has been extended in the Bill to the local planning process. The Bill actually says that it can be used for anything, all subject to ministerial regulation through either statutory instruments or development orders. It could be used for anything from industrial estates to fracking. We in this House ought to tighten up the wording on the face of the Bill. There are lots of other things we need to be discussing.

Lord BeechamLord Beecham, shadow minister for housing, Labour
A report in Planning Resource in October suggested that PIP would apply to housing schemes of around 500. Is there any indication of the kind of numbers that the Government are expecting to be included in such schemes? Above all, will she dispel the concerns expressed by Hugh Ellis—the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, referred to him—the policy director of the TCPA, that PIP as prescribed in the Bill,

“could apply to all forms of development”, even for fracking as part of a minerals plan, and whether it is the Government’s intention to adopt US-style zonal plans? Interestingly, in last week’s Budget the Chancellor referred specifically to zonal planning. But perhaps this, like certain other proposals in the Budget, will now be subject to review and, we hope, with a similar outcome. We broadly support the amendments of the noble Lord, Lords Greaves, which list some 19 types of land to be excluded from the process.”

Baroness WilliamsBaroness Williams of Trafford, minister for communities and local government
The noble Lords, Lord Beecham and Lord Greaves, talked about fracking. I should just like to make the point at this juncture that fracking sites are precisely the type of development that would not be suitable for permission in principle; they are simply at the other end of the scale. We are talking here about housing-led sites, so I shall say on the Floor of the House that fracking is not the sort of thing that we are thinking about. However, I know that noble Lords like to have it confirmed again and again, and I do not blame them.

Scottish Parliament

Questions to the Energy Minister

22nd March 2016

Neil Findlay

Question by Neil Findlay, Scottish Labour, Lothian
To ask the Scottish Government how much (a) it and (b) other public bodies has/have spent on research on fracking.

Fergus Ewing MSP

Reply by Fergus Ewing, Energy Minister, SNP, Inverness and Nairn
I refer the member to the answer to question S4W-30628 on 23 March 2016. All answers to written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliament’s website, the search facility for which can be found at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx

Question by Neil Findlay
To ask the Scottish Government what research (a) it and (b) other public bodies have carried out and are carrying out in relation to fracking.

Reply by Fergus Ewing
I refer the member to the answer to question S4W-30628 on 23 March 2016. All answers to written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliament’s website, the search facility for which can be found at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx

In 2014 the Scottish Government convened an independent group of scientific experts to provide impartial evidence on unconventional oil and gas. A copy of the final report can be found on the Scottish Government website at: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2014/07/1758

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Scottish Government asked ClimateXChange to undertake a desk-based study of the estimated greenhouse gas emissions associated with the extraction of onshore unconventional gas in Scotland, from exploration to the point of fuel production. The final report was published in 2014, a copy of which can be found at: emissions/life-cycle-assessment-ghg-emissions-unconventional-gas1/

SarahBoyackQuestion by Sarah Boyack, Scottish Labour, Lothian
To ask the Scottish Government how much it will pay (a) KPMG, (b) AECOM and (c) Ramboll Environ UK for research into fracking and when each piece of research will be completed.

Reply by Fergus Ewing
The Scottish Government has awarded the following research contracts relating to unconventional oil and gas:

  • ‘Understanding and monitoring induced seismic activity’ will be undertaken by The British Geological Survey. The value for this work is £41,994.
  • ‘Decommissioning, site restoration and aftercare – Obligations and treatment of financial liabilities’ will be undertaken by AECOM. The value for this work is £51,102.
  • ‘Climate change impacts’ will be undertaken by the Committee on Climate Change. The value for this work is £61,980.
  • ‘Economic impacts and scenario development’ will be undertaken by KPMG. The value for this work is £103,176.

These projects are due to be completed in summer 2016.

The Scottish Government will provide up to £75,000 to cover the additional costs incurred by Health Protection Scotland in delivering a Public Health Impact Assessment.

Questions to the Energy Minister

23rd March 2016

Question by Neil Findlay
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide a list of meetings that (a) ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) civil servants have had with (i) fracking companies or representatives acting on their behalf and (ii) fracking trade associations since May 2011. (S4W-30721)

Reply by Fergus Ewing
For details of meetings between ministers and stakeholders to discuss the Scottish Government research into unconventional oil and gas, I refer the member to the answer to question S4W-26272 on 27 July 2015. All answers to written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliament’s website, the search facility for which can be found at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx

Question by Neil Findlay
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will publish the minutes of all meetings that it has had with (a) fracking companies and their representatives and (b) fracking trade associations since May 2011. (S4W-30722)

Reply by Fergus Ewing
I refer the member to the answer to question S4W-30721 on 22 March 2016. All answers to written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliament’s website, the search facility for which can be found at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx.

Question by Neil Findlay
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide a list of meetings that (a) ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) civil servants have had with representatives of INEOS since May 2011.

Reply by Fergus Ewing
Information on ministerial meetings is routinely published on the Scottish Government website, and can be found at: http://www.gov.scot/About/People/14944/EventsEngagements/MinisterialEngagements/MinisterialEngagements

Question by Neil Findlay
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will publish the minutes of all meetings that it has had with INEOS since May 2011. (S4W-30724)

Reply by Fergus Ewing
I refer the member to the answer to question S4W-30723 on 22 March 2016. All answers to written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliament’s website, the search facility for which can be found at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx.

Question by Neil Findlay
To ask the Scottish Government whether it has received any correspondence from, and held any dialogue or meetings with, Charlotte Street Partners on behalf of any fracking companies in relation to fracking. (S4W-30725)

Reply by Fergus Ewing
The Scottish Government has had no contact from Charlotte Street Partners in relation to fracking.

Easter recess dates

The UK parliament is in recess until Monday 11th April 2016

The Northern Ireland Assembly began its recess on Friday 19th March and returns on Monday 9th May after the Assembly elections on 5th May.

The Scottish Parliament began its recess on Thursday 24th March and returns after the election, also held on 5th May 2016.

The Welsh Assembly recess began on Monday 21 March 2016 and ends on  Tuesday 5 April 2016.

 

3 replies »

  1. “Question by Neil Findlay
    To ask the Scottish Government whether it has received any correspondence from, and held any dialogue or meetings with, Charlotte Street Partners on behalf of any fracking companies in relation to fracking. (S4W-30725)

    Reply by Fergus Ewing
    The Scottish Government has had no contact from Charlotte Street Partners in relation to fracking.”

    What a whopping lie by Fergus Ewing!!! Spinwatch revealed the following in its report ‘Holyrood Exposed’: “Charlotte Street Partners has organised a dinner discussion with Nicola Sturgeon, and wined and dined her special adviser on energy and enterprise, Malcolm Fleming, as well as the government’s head of policy, Colin McAllister.”
    See page 7: http://static1.squarespace.com/static/56057a6fe4b0ba7911a449d6/t/5646161ce4b037db841dc08d/1447433756583/Scottish+Lobbying+Guide+-+com+v1.pdf
    and corresponding footnote 6 on page 25 of the report: “Nicola Sturgeon meetings with outside interests, January 2015;
    http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0048/00482396.pdf; Special Advisers gifts and hospitality, April to June 2015; http://www.gov.
    scot/About/People/14944/Special-Advisers/gifts-hospitality; Special Advisers gifts and hospitality, October 2014 to
    December 2014; http://www.gov.scot/About/People/14944/Special-Advisers/gifts-hospitality

  2. Thank you, Ruth. Perhaps I was too quick to call it ‘a whopping lie’. I should have been a little more careful, as there is no actual proof that fracking *was* discussed at the January 2015 meeting with Nicola Sturgeon (as the Spinwatch report also states), but given the timing of this meeting and the fact that Charlotte Street is involved in the campaign to bring fracking to Scotland, working on behalf of Cluff Natural Resources (CNS), we can put two and two together and assume that fracking was discussed. Further information about Charlotte Street Partners here: http://powerbase.info/index.php/Charlotte_Street_Partners.

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