Politics

Fracking Week in Parliament – week ending 8 July 2016

Westminster

Top stories in this Fracking Week in Politics:

  • Government statements on the Committee on Climate Change report on shale gas
  • Roger Godsiff on  local views and Cuadrilla’s Lancashire appeals
  • Callum McCaig on Freedom of Information and commercial sensitivity
  • Chris Matheson on “back-door” tax breaks for fracking
  • Lord Maude on speeding up exploration licence agreements

Thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com for the transcripts

Written ministerial statements on shale gas and climate change

Energy Ministers, Andrea Leadsom and Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

7 July 2016

Andrea LeadsomLord Bourne

I wish to inform the House that the Government is today laying the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) advice on the compatibility of UK onshore petroleum with meeting the UK’s carbon budgets, as well as the Government’s response to that advice[i]. These are being laid before Parliament in line with Section

The CCC’s report mainly focuses on shale gas extraction. The Government welcomes the CCC’s conclusion that shale gas is compatible with carbon budgets if certain conditions are met. We believe that our strong regulatory regime and determination to meet our carbon budgets mean those conditions can and will be met.

The Government is committed to exploring the UK’s shale gas potential whilst maintaining the very highest safety and environmental standards. We are confident that the existing regulators have the right powers and flexibility to ensure that emissions are minimised. We will of course continue to work with the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and the Oil and Gas Authority to ensure this continues to be the case as the new shale industry grows.

Exploring and developing our shale gas and oil resources could potentially bring substantial benefits and help meet our objectives for secure energy supplies, economic growth and lower carbon emissions. We therefore welcome that the CCC shares the Government’s view that shale gas could make a useful contribution to UK energy supplies.

We do not yet know the full scale of the UK’s shale resources nor how much can be extracted technically or economically. There is therefore a clear need to seize the opportunity now to determine the full potential for shale development in the UK and we support the industry’s work to bring forward exploratory wells.

Having access to clean, safe and secure supplies of natural gas for years to come is a key requirement if the UK is to successfully transition to a low-carbon economy. The UK was the first country to set legally binding carbon budgets, and this Government is fully committed to them, as shown by the announcement of the fifth carbon budget level last week. We need gas — the cleanest fossil fuel — to support our climate change efforts by providing flexibility and helping us to reduce the use of high-carbon coal.

Section 49 of the Infrastructure Act requires the Secretary of State, when laying the CCC report before Parliament, to lay either regulations providing for the right to use deep-level land to cease to have effect, or a report explaining the reasoning for not doing so. The Government response explains why the Government believes that our strong regulatory regime will meet the conditions set out by the CCC, and therefore further regulations are not required. This meets the Government’s obligations under the Infrastructure Act. The Act requires a further report to be provided by the CCC in April 2021.

[i] These are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/committee-on-climate-change-report-and-government-response-on-the-compatibility-of-uk-onshore-petroleum-with-meeting-the-uks-carbon-budgets

DrillOrDrop post on the report and reaction to it

Parliamentary questions

7 July 2016

Roger GodsiffQuestion by Roger Godsiff, Labour, Birmingham, Hall Green
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, if he will take into account the views of local communities and Lancashire County Council when deciding whether to reverse the council’s decision not to allow fracking.

James WhartonReply by James Wharton, Communities and Local Government Minister
Decisions on recovered appeals are taken on the basis of the material considerations which are before the Secretary of State at the time of the decision, including material considerations put forward to the local planning authority at the time of the application.

5 July 2016

Marquess of LothianQuestion by The Marquess of Lothian, Conservative
To ask Her Majesty’s Government when the Secretary of State for Energy will respond to the Committee on Climate Change’s report on the environmental impact of shale gas fracking submitted to the Department of Energy and Climate Change on 30 March.

Reply by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth
The Government has received the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report. We are carefully considering the report to ensure it is given the proper consideration it is due.

Under the Infrastructure Act 2015, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change is required to lay the CCC report and our response before Parliament together. They will be published as soon as practicable once our response is complete.

(See written ministerial statement above)

4 July 2016

CallumMcCaigQuestion by Callum McCaig, SNP, Aberdeen South, SNP Westminster Group Leader for Energy and Climate Change
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, whether commercially sensitive information provided to the Oil and Gas Authority and MER UK parties is subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Reply by Andrea Leadsom
All information held by public authorities, including the Oil and Gas Authority, is subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs). Commercially sensitive information that is confidential in nature, or which could prejudice a commercial interest if released, can be withheld under certain circumstances under the provisions of the Act or the EIRs.

Mark MenziesQuestion by Mark Menzies Conservative, Fylde
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, for what reasons the Committee of Climate Change report on the compatibility of UK onshore petroleum with meeting UK carbon budgets has not yet been laid before Parliament; and when she plans to publish the Government’s response to that report.

Reply by Andrea Leadsom
The Government has received the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report. We are carefully considering the report to ensure it is given the proper consideration it is due.

Under the Infrastructure Act 2015, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change is required to lay the CCC report and our response before Parliament together. They will be published as soon as practicable once our response is complete.

(See written ministerial statement above)

Discussion on the Finance Bill, Public Bill Committee

5 July

Chris MathesonQuestion by Chris Matheson, Labour, City of Chester
There is no doubt that the UK offshore oil and gas sector has a world lead, provides huge revenue and technical expertise to the UK, and needs to be protected, but my hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles raised the spectre of onshore fracking. Can the Minister give reassurance that our efforts to support the offshore oil and gas industry will not be used as a back-door way of giving tax breaks to onshore fracking?

Damian HindsReply by Damian Hinds, Conservative, East Hampshire, The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury
The Government believe that there is significant potential for unconventional oil and gas—for fracking—and I think that we owe it to future generations, to ourselves and to British industry to make sure that we discover what opportunities are there. Exactly how the regime develops, in fiscal terms, is to be determined, but we know that there will be an absolutely robust safety regime. In the initial phase, the important thing is to find out on how big a scale that opportunity may be.

Outcome of the European Union Referendum – Motion to Take Note, House of Lords

5 July 2016

Lord MaudeExtract of speech by Lord Maude of Horsham Conservative
The Government can now make the investment decisions that lie within their power. I am sorry to see the Government deciding to postpone the decision on airport expansion. That can and should be taken quickly. There are also decisions on licences for the exploitation of shale gas—a commodity that will be produced domestically for domestic consumption, with no EU implications whatever—which can and should be made as quickly as possible.

Parliamentary summer recess dates

Northern Ireland Assembly 2 July 2016 to 4 September 2016

Scottish parliament 2 July 2016 to 4 September 2016

Welsh Assembly 18 July 2016 to 11 September 2016

Westminster Parliament 21 July to 5 September 2016

 

2 replies »

  1. As part of last week in Parliament you might have missed the recent DECC press release. On 8th July the Government has today set out how much electricity capacity it intends to buy in the forthcoming Capacity Market auction for 2017/2018.

    The accompanying press release started “We are taking the action needed to tackle the legacy of under-investment in our energy infrastructure, build a system fit for the 21st century and ensure our country’s long-term energy security.”

    In other words we’re getting our excuses in first (it was the fault of the previous Labour government) and we’re really hoping it won’t be a very cold winter on top of all the other heap of political and economic problems we’ve got to dig our way out of. The dash for gas is well and truly on. There is only one new large power station currently being built and that is the CCGT plant at Carrington. Apparently there were plans for another CCGT plant but the project could not attract investors perhaps because all the clever money goes into subsidised green projects. In the face of declining capacity the government (via the National Grid), have forced the closure of coal plants, now it has to pay to keep them open as part of their back-up reserves plan.

    • Mark – it is worth having at look at the National Grid forecastes to 2040 and the four scenarios, two green and two not. You can access the documents via the following link, all very interesting:

      http://fes.nationalgrid.com/fes-document/

      It has a lot on info on gas in it including North Sea declines, increasing imports, and most importantly, how we need lots og gas going forward.

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