In this Fracking Week in Parliament:
- Jim McMahon on landowners’ rights and fracking
- Caroline Flint on using the shale wealth fund for energy efficiency
- Scottish Parliament on post-Brexit impacts on the environment and trade deals
Thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com for the transcripts
25 October 2016
Debate on Neighbourhood Planning Bill
Question by Jim McMahon, Shadow Communities Minister, Labour Oldham West and Royton
I am not usually a suspicious person, but during that contribution there was a voice at the back of my head saying, “Is this all about fracking?” Is this about the Government’s newfound commitment to fracking and about trying to remove landowners’ rights, trying to create temporary compounds and trying to create opportunities to drill without going through the full and proper procedure? That may not be for today, but I would certainly appreciate the position on that in writing.
Reply by Gavin Barwell, Communities Minister, Conservative, Croydon Central
I am happy to write to the hon. Gentleman and provide him with a full response to that question. I can reassure him that these provisions do not come from that particular policy area. It was before my time—I am looking for inspiration—but I think I am right in saying that there were compulsory purchase provisions in the Housing and Planning Act 2016. It was in the discussion and debate around those provisions that these issues got raised, and that is why the Government are seeking to clarify the law in that regard. I will happily write to the hon. Gentleman and hope that I have now addressed the points that the hon. Lady raised, so I ask her to withdraw the amendment and hope the clause can stand part of the Bill.
Questions to the Chancellor on regional infrastructure
Question by Caroline Flint, Labour, Don Valley
Does the Chancellor agree that energy efficiency should be a priority for infrastructure development, both nationally and regionally? To that end, will he seriously consider earmarking the proceeds of the shale gas sovereign wealth fund for energy efficiency measures so that we can not only save on bills, but create jobs and encourage innovation?
Reply by Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Conservative, Runnymede and Weybridge
I am not necessarily in favour of earmarking or hypothecation of funds for that specific purpose, but the right hon. Lady makes an important point. We have a serious challenge on this country’s energy capacity over the next 20 years, and we are going to have to invest eye-wateringly large sums of money—perhaps £100 billion—just to ensure that the lights stay on. Of course it makes sense to look at ways of reducing demand for energy through energy conservation measures alongside the demands for new energy generation plants.
27 October 2016
Debate on environment and climate change following EU referendum result
Extracts of speech by Mark Ruskell, Green, Mid Scotland and Fife
On the moral imperative that is climate change, our targets have been set in the context of a Europe that is driving hard progress on carbon and energy. A weaker set of UK climate targets agreed with the United Nations would take the pressure off the UK, and with a Westminster Government that is mad keen on nuclear energy and fracking, it is likely that energy market rules established in the wake of Brexit will stifle Scotland’s ambitions for renewables instead of realising them.
[Referring to international trade agreements] In Quebec, corporations have sued Governments over fracking bans. It is unthinkable that such a thing could happen here in Scotland, but all Algy Cluff would need to do to sue the Scottish Government would be to open up an office in Vancouver—he would not even require an office here.
Extract of speech by Neil Findlay, Labour, Lothian
If—it is a big if—Governments then put in place policy and legislation that run counter to corporate interests, those democratically elected Governments could be taken to court and sued. It has happened in Canada, Australia and elsewhere. What arrogance; what an affront to democracy. I believe that it is for those reasons—and many more—that voters across the UK voted leave.
We must not think that such things could not happen here. Imagine if TTIP had been up and running: Ineos or some other similar company might be dragging the Scottish Government through the investor-state dispute settlement system to stop a democratically elected Parliament deciding its own policy on an issue such as fracking.
Extract of speech by Gillian Martin, SNP, Aberdeenshire East
I do not feel particularly comfortable knowing that research funding is reliant on the UK Government, given that neither emissions reduction nor climate change issues are a priority for it. I have to admit that, when I read the Tory amendment and saw the phrase “recognises the positive impact that being part of the UK has had on climate change in Scotland”. I had to take a wee moment to calm myself, remembering how former Tory chancellor George Osborne swept aside the CCS projects and diverted the money elsewhere.
I am also nervous of a UK Government that has allowed fracking contracts to be awarded under national parks with no debate and which has ploughed on with that technology without carrying out any serious research into the environmental consequences. I wonder whether the very heartfelt comments that were made by Mr Golden and Mr Burnett about establishing more woodland mean that they agree that fracking under areas of national significance is an abomination. Do I trust a Government that takes such an approach to support renewable energy or emissions reduction research programmes? Frankly, I do not.