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.”
The 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.”