In this Fracking Week in Politics:
- Julie Cooper on the Shale Wealth Fund and the Northern Power House
- Michelle Donelan on community consultation and protection for historic towns
- Jim Shannon on buffer zones around shale sites
- Debates on fracking and the UK steel industry
- Amendments on fracking in the Housing Bill
With thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com for the transcripts
Written questions on fracking and shale gas
13 April 2016
Question by Julie Cooper Labour, Burnley
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to paragraph 1.249 of the Budget 2016, when and how the Government plans to consult on the priorities and delivery models of the Shale Wealth Fund; and how much of that fund he expects to be allocated to (a) Lancashire and (b) Burnley.
Reply by Damian Hinds, Exchequer Secretary, Conservative, East Hampshire
The Government will be consulting on the priorities and delivery models for the Shale Wealth Fund later this year. Details on how the government plans to consult on the Shale Wealth Fund will be announced in due course.
The Shale Wealth Fund is projected to deliver up to £1 billion of investment in the North and other shale producing areas over the next 25 years. This will provide additional funds over and above industry schemes and other sources of government funding. Further detail on how these funds will be allocated will be addressed when the government consults on the priorities and delivery models of the Shale Wealth Fund.
Question by Julie Cooper
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many projects in Lancashire have been funded directly under the Northern Powerhouse initiative.
Reply by Greg Hands, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Conservative, Chelsea and Fulham
The Northern Powerhouse is creating a single Northern economy that is greater than the sum of its parts. Lancashire will benefit from pan-Northern projects including the Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy, Shale Wealth Fund, Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund and membership of Transport for the North. Lancashire will directly benefit from investments including a £251.11m growth deal, two Enterprise Zones, a National College for Onshore Oil and Gas at Blackpool, £56,000 for the refurbishment of the Muni theatre in Pendle and numerous transport schemes. Government does not hold information on the specific number of projects in Lancashire.
19 April 2016
Question by Michelle Donelan, Conservative, Chippenham
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what steps the Government has taken to ensure that local communities are consulted when planning applications for shale gas extraction sites are made.
Reply by James Wharton, Communities and Local Government Minister, Conservative, Stockton South
Any local resident can make representations during a formal period of consultation before any planning application for shale exploration is determined.
Question by Jim Shannon, health, transport and equality spokesperson, DUP, Strangford
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, if he will update national and planning policies to (a) account for shale operations and (b) introduce buffer zones between shale developments and local communities.
Reply by James Wharton
The National Planning Policy Framework and supporting guidance sets out a comprehensive approach to planning for shale gas extraction in England. Planning guidance includes the use of buffer zones in the determination of planning applications for hydrocarbon extraction, including from shale. This states that above ground separation distances are acceptable in specific circumstances where it is clear that, based on site specific assessments and other forms of mitigation measures (such as working scheme design and landscaping), a certain distance is required between the boundary of the minerals site and the adjacent development.
20 April 2016
Question by Michelle Donelan Conservative, Chippenham
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, what protections the Government has put has put in place to ensure that historic towns are not adversely affected by shale gas extraction.
Reply by Andrea Leadsom, Energy and Climate Change Minister, Conservative, South Northamptonshire
The Government has been clear that shale development must be safe and environmentally sound, maintaining the very highest safety and environmental standards.
Any impacts of shale gas exploration proposals on the historic environment are fully taken into account through the planning system. The National Planning Policy Framework explains that when considering the impact of a proposed development on the significance of a designated heritage asset, great weight should be given to the asset’s conservation. Designated heritage assets include World Heritage Sites, scheduled monuments, listed buildings and conservation areas.
In addition, the Government has consulted on measures to ensure that hydraulic fracturing cannot be conducted from wells that are drilled at the surface of our most valuable areas, including World Heritage Sites, and we will publish our response to the consultation shortly.
House of Lords debate on the Housing and Planning Bill, report stage (4th day)
20 April 2016
Extract of speech by Lord Beecham, shadow communities and local government spokesperson
On permission in principle
Paragraph 37 goes on to say that amendments will, however, be tabled—as they have been—to exclude “fracking or mineral development”. Welcome though that latter position is, we now have a permission-in-principle cocktail in which the ingredient of housing development can be reduced to homeopathic proportions or even be excluded altogether.
Extracts of speeches by Baroness Williams of Trafford, Communities and Local Government Minister
I am well aware that there has been some misinformation about granting development involving fracking and other types of development for permission in principle. I hope that the government amendment tabled today that will prohibit granting permission in principle for development related to the, “winning and working of materials”, reassures noble Lords in that regard. With that, I urge the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.
House of Commons debate on the UK steel industry
12 April 2016
Extract of speech by Tom Pursglove, Conservative, Corby
I happen to take the view that we ought to get much tougher on procurement. We have seen some really positive steps, but it is simply unacceptable for any public bodies in this country not to be using British steel at this time. We are seeing big procurement projects and fracking is coming on stream, so we ought to be exploring all the possibilities and ensuring that our procurement policy reflects exactly that. The integrity of the order book is very important, but so too is the integrity of supply chains. We need suppliers to keep on supplying, as well as buyers to keep on buying.
happen to take the view that we ought to get much tougher on procurement. We have seen some really positive steps, but it is simply unacceptable for any public bodies in this country not to be using British steel at this time. We are seeing big procurement projects and fracking is coming on stream, so we ought to be exploring all the possibilities and ensuring that our procurement policy reflects exactly that. The integrity of the order book is very important, but so too is the integrity of supply chains. We need suppliers to keep on supplying, as well as buyers to keep on buying.
Extract of speech by Tom Blenkinsop, Labour, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland
On co-investment, I have to question whether we are properly looking at issues such as shale gas, and whether parties are being honest about the policy on that, because we are talking about gas-intensive industries.
On carbon capture and storage, the Government have to come clean. They have pulled the rug from under energy-intensive industries on carbon capture and storage. How will they maintain energy-intensive industries—whether it is chemical processing, shale, steel, light manufacturing, glass, cement or bricks—without a proper strategy on carbon? Taxes can be implemented under the EU emissions trading scheme or unilaterally, by bringing in the carbon price floor. They did that in the Budget some years ago, and they promised to give compensation. However, they did not calculate that if they wanted to compensate people for their own unilateral British tax, they could do so only via the European Union. They had not done the requisite work; they looked at the margins that a Treasury civil servant brought forward and just applied a rule, and they are now reaping the consequences of that.
The Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies are in recess because of their elections on 5 May 2016. Reports on DrillOrDrop will resume after the elections.