Minister rejects single fracking regulator – for now

The Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, said today there was no evidence of the need for a single regulator for the shale gas industry.

Addressing a group of MPs, Mrs Leadsom said

“We are absolutely open to the idea of that but as things stand there isn’t a shale industry. There hasn’t even been an exploration well properly drilled and a question of whether shale gas can be extracted has not been established.”

“And we absolutely believe the combination of the regulators that we have are more than up to the job of what I have said as yet not even an industry.”

KevinHollinrakeThe new group on shale gas regulation is chaired by Kevin Hollinrake, the MP for Thirsk and Malton, which includes Kirby Misperton, where Third Energy wants to frack its existing KM8 well.

He put it Mrs Leadsom that a single regulator had been called for in reports by the Task Force on Shale Gas and the Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering.

Mrs Leadsom said:

“There is always a balance in these things. You don’t have an industry then there isn’t much point setting up an independent bespoke regulator with all the costs that that would incur: the transfer of skills, the set-up of new systems and processes that are already working extremely well in the way that they are divided. “

“Equally there is no activity for people to complain about as yet so there hasn’t been an issue, a problem for people to point to and say this would have been better had there been a single regulator.”

Mr Hollinrake said people had told him they wanted a single body to complain to if something went wrong.

Mrs Leadsom replied:

“I completely sympathise that people would like to have a body but of course there are always costs and risks associated with establishing anything new.”

“There are significant costs that would then need to be borne either by the industry or the taxpayer or a combination of those things and significant risks that would evolve from try to merge those different parts of HSE and the environment agency at a time when there just isn’t the evidence of the need for that.”

Leading academic says there are still gaps in UK shale regulations

Shale companies won’t try to frack on the edge of villages, Energy Minister


3 replies »

  1. As usual Mrs Leadsome demonstrates that although the facts are evident she lacks the intelligence to appreciate them. Cuadrilla’s proposed well at Roseacre Wood in Lancashire is 250m from the village. The Preston New Road site is next door to a park homes site and only 500m from an approved site for one of the government’s new flagship ‘Healthy Living’ estates.

    Suggesting that there is no need for an independent regulator because there is nothing for people to complain about yet is as risible as it is inane. The Royal Society identified the need for a single regulator in their report commissioned by DECC after the problems at Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall site in Lancashire. Delaying the establishment of such a regulator until after drilling has commenced – and then purely so people have a body to complain to – shows a quite breathtakingly dangerous level of incompetence. I imagine that like Nero she has her fiddle ready to hand. Run a government department? She couldn’t be trusted to run a bath unsupervised.

  2. The reality remains that until some exploration is done we don’t even know if this is going to be economic so to waste tax payer money that should be invested in more important things (for now) is the right decision.

    I fully support an independent regulator, but one is not necessary if all that is going to happen is 5 or 10 exploration wells and frack jobs over the next 2 years. People would rightly complain if the government caved in and spent tax payer money on this just to appease environmentalists who, lets face it, don’t really care if there is an independent regulator and will still oppose it even when there is.

    We are about to get a few exploration wells and test fracks that will confirm if it is economic. After that it will indeed be time to start this particular ball moving.

  3. Professor Davies has confirmed what Jo Hawkins found – there are gaps in the onshore regulations and they are not gold standard – whatever that is supposed to mean. We now find there won’t be a the single regulator – which was a recommendation from the Royal Society report of 2012. Leadsom herself has said that they will need between 100 and 200 wells drilling to establish whether or not fracking will be successful i.e. in the exploratory phase. This is as usual government bending over backwards for this industry.

    Mr Hollinrake has been left well and truly with egg on his face.

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