In this Fracking Week in Parliament:
- Tim Farron on local challenges to government fracking decisions
- Calum Kerr on potential threats to biodiversity
- Fiona Bruce on the impact of fracking on local communities
- Tom Blenkinsop on fracking and jobs
- Grant Shapps on simplified planning for shale gas
- Justin Madders on government contact with the NW’s fracking industry
Written question on planning permission
Question by Tim Farron Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Westmorland and Lonsdale
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, whether there is a process in place for local authorities to challenge central government decisions in relation to the allowing of hydraulic fracturing activities.
Reply by Gavin Barwell, Local Government minister, Conservative, Croydon Central
Local authorities may challenge a decision by the Secretary of State to grant planning permission for such activities by making an application for permission to bring a legal challenge in the High Court.
Westminster Hall debate on global biodiversity
Extract of a speech by Calum Kerr, SNP environment spokesperson, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk
In a recent study, ecologists found that 65% of the areas earmarked for potential shale gas extraction have an above average level of biodiversity. I would be interested to learn how the Government think they can square such roughshod policies with their headline claim that they want to leave the natural environment in a better state than they found it.
2 November 2016
Written question on fracking and industrial strategy
Question by Fiona Bruce, Conservative, Congleton
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on the potential effect of the Government’s fracking strategy on local communities.
Reply by Jesse Norman energy minister, Conservative, Hereford and South Herefordshire
Both the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are clear that local communities will have the opportunity to take part in and comment on matters that impact on their local area. Any shale planning application – whether decided by Local Authorities or Government – will continue to require a full consultation with local people.
3 November 2016
Westminster Hall debate on the steel industry
Extract of speech by Tom Blenkinsop, Labour, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland
Our party has vowed to ban the practice of fracking. The GMB union called this decision ridiculous, nonsense and madness, and my union, Community, said the decision was rushed and did not fully consider the evidence. Both unions have since signed a memorandum of understanding with United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas, the industry trade body. Two proud unions, with large private sector bases and affiliated to our party, are asking the party to back a proposal that would provide jobs in regions across the UK—not just jobs, but secure, well paid jobs that would help to stop our reliance on autocratic nations for our energy. It would offer people, not least the thousands of offshore oil workers being made redundant, well trained, highly skilled, long-term roles, but we have denied them that option. Shale gas would cut energy prices for the steel industry more profoundly than any tax break or subsidy. On Teesside, it would provide a gas supply to a much-needed chemicals industry at 50% less than the cost of conventional North Sea gas.
The infrastructure and sites would also require thousands of tonnes of steel. The viability of British-made welded steel pipes for fracking is currently being explored. It is vital to both Corby’s and Hartlepool’s pipe mills. The industry is moving ahead without the Labour party. We should be shaping the shale gas industry, not ignoring it for our own satisfaction. We should be making sure it is safe, that it uses British steel, that energy price cuts are passed on to steel producers and that they organise their workforce so that it can bargain collectively and secure benefits for local communities.
Blanket opposition to infrastructure projects may offer the false comfort of the moral high ground, but it is not responsible. Failing to make these choices is not the action of a Government in waiting who intend to deliver for steelworkers. As a party, we must be pro-jobs and pro-steel choices, and not just attend marches and wear badges. I hope my party will think about these issues and choose jobs over familiar, fashionable and flawed opinion.
Extract of speech by Tom Pursglove Conservative, Corby
We must ensure that these big, Government-backed infrastructure projects use British products, British content and British steel at every opportunity. I want to pick up the point made by the hon. Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland [Tom Blenkinsop, Labour] about fracking, because Corby is one of the sites that would be strongly placed to provide top-quality steel for fracking. When the Government are looking at subsidies for renewable energy projects or any energy projects, it makes sense to hammer home the expectation that British content and British steel will be used. That should be the key condition.
Written question on planning for shale gas
Question by Grant Shapps, Conservative, Welwyn Hatfield
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to simplify planning and administrative processes required before exploratory drilling can take place for shale gas.
Reply by Jesse Norman
Before shale operations begin, it is important that a developer is required to obtain all the necessary permissions, including planning and environmental permits.
The UK has an effective planning system to consider and scrutinise unconventional oil and gas developments. On 16 September 2015, the Government published a joint Written Ministerial Statement to make the planning system faster and fairer for those affected by new development, recognising that no one benefits from uncertainty caused by delay. We will keep the regulatory regime for shale under review as the industry develops to ensure it is proportionate and fit for purpose.
Written question on fracking in north west England
Question by Justin Madders, Shadow Health Minister, Labour, Ellesmere Port and Neston
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with industry on hydraulic fracturing in the North West.
Reply by Jesse Norman
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy meets regularly with energy industry leaders. A register of meetings is published on a quarterly basis as part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s transparency data.