In this week’s Fracking Week in Parliament:
- Mark Menzies calls for unannounced inspections of Cuadrilla’s newly approved Lancashire shale gas site
- Roger Godsiff urges government to take into account greenhouse gas levels before overturning local authority decisions on fracking
- And peers welcome new fracking powers for Wales
Thanks to www.theyworkforyou.com for the transcripts
10 October 2016
Second Reading of The Wales Bill in the House of Lords
Extract of speech by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Communities and Local Government Minister
The Bill makes Welsh devolution stronger by devolving a significant package of new powers to the Assembly and Welsh Ministers. These are powers for a purpose, giving the Assembly and Welsh Ministers the tools to improve the day-to-day lives of people in Wales. The Assembly and Welsh Ministers will have strengthened powers over transport in Wales, including speed limits and traffic signs on Welsh roads; the registration of bus services; and the regulation of taxis and private hire vehicles. We are devolving policy over ports in Wales, apart from Milford Haven, which is of strategic importance to the UK state. Welsh Ministers will decide, too, whether energy projects in Wales up to 350 megawatts generating capacity should be built. Decisions on whether fracking takes place in Wales will in future be made in Wales. We have already devolved all onshore wind consents in the Energy Act—that is without limit. Noble Lords will recall that I took that through this House earlier this year.
Extract of speech by Baroness Morgan of Ely, Labour
We welcome the fact that the National Assembly for Wales will be permanent, and that it will now have power to determine its own electoral processes, its size and the electoral system for National Assembly elections. We welcome the fact that, among other things that the Minister outlined, the Assembly will have enhanced powers in energy projects, including fracking, and new transport responsibilities. We are also pleased that the changes were made in response to scrutiny of the draft Bill, and I am particularly pleased that social care regulation and inspection will be under the control of the Assembly, following my call for the establishment of a national care service for Wales last week.
Extract of speech by Lord Wigley, Plaid Cymru
Let me first identify some matters covered by the Bill that I welcome. These include the permanence of the National Assembly, the acceptance of the principle of a reserved powers model, giving the Assembly power over elections to the Assembly, including the electoral system and franchise, and control of fracking in Wales. I certainly welcome all of those.
Extract of speech by Baroness Finn, Conservative
The Bill devolves further powers to enable the Welsh Government to decide on issues that concern the people of Wales. These include putting Wales’s natural resources in the hands of the people of Wales. The Assembly will, for example, be able to decide on the planning regime for major strategic energy projects, such as whether fracking should take place and, if so, how it should be regulated. As such, decision-making on the use of those resources will rightly rest with the people of Wales, who are best placed to make such decisions. The Labour Party announced at its conference plans to outlaw fracking and reopen coal mines. It would be a shame to ignore the economic benefits of fracking. Shale gas has the potential to power economic growth, support the creation of jobs and provide a new domestic energy source. This in turn will make us less reliant on imports. We should not turn our back on innovation, and I urge the Welsh Government not to do so.
12 October 2016
Written questions to the Department for Communities and Local Government
Question by Roger Godsiff Labour, Birmingham, Hall Green
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, if the Government will take into account that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have passed 400ppm when deciding on whether to overturn a decision by a local authority not to allow fracking.
Reply by Gavin Barwell, planning minister, Conservative, Croydon Central
Planning law requires that applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The National Planning Policy Framework including, where relevant, national planning policy relating to climate change, is a material consideration in planning decisions. In deciding called-in applications or recovered appeals, the Secretary of State will take into account all material considerations which are before him at the time of the decision.
13 October 2016
House of Commons questions to the Environment Secretary
Question by Mark Menzies Conservative, Fylde
The Secretary of State will be aware that consent has been given for the first horizontal shale gas site at Preston New Road in my constituency. Will she assure me that the Environment Agency will conduct immediate on-the-spot inspections, and that many of them will be unannounced? What powers does the Environment Agency have to close down a site if it finds it to be in breach of regulations?
Reply by Andrea Leadsom, Environment Secretary, Conservative, South Northamptonshire
I am very happy to reassure my hon. Friend that we have a robust regulatory framework in place to ensure that shale exploration is carried out in a safe, sustainable and environmentally sound manner. The Environment Agency can undertake announced and unannounced inspections, and if there is any breach of a permit condition or a serious risk to people or the environment, it can take a number of enforcement actions, including the immediate ceasing of operations.