Fracking Week in Parliament: 31 October-4 November 2016



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


1 November

Written question on planning permission

Tim FarronQuestion 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.

gavin-barwell-mpReply 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.

Link to question

Westminster Hall debate on global biodiversity

calum-kerrExtract 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.

Link to debate

2 November 2016

Written question on fracking and industrial strategy

fiona-bruce-mpQuestion 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.

jesse-norman-mpReply 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.

Link to question

3 November 2016

Westminster Hall debate on the steel industry

TomBlenkinsopExtract 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.

Tom Pursglove MPExtract 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.

Link to debate

Written question on planning for shale gas

grant-shappsQuestion 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[1] 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.

Link to question

4 November

Written question on fracking in north west England

justin-madders-mpQuestion 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.

8 replies »

  1. Change is a difficult concept for many of us to grasp but change we must. Climate change is a global problem and cannot be ignored.
    Even with home produced gas and oil from the North Sea it did not and has not lowered energy prices. The global markets, often heavily influenced by the so called autocratic nations, as referred to in Tom Blenkinsop’s speech, will continue to dominate the fossil fuel markets as they do now. Many of our energy companies are foreign owned – including by the Russians and the Chinese. Fracking jobs are not long term nor sustainable as can be seen quite clearly in the US.
    There is no suggestion or evidence to infer that infrastructure projects will not go ahead if we don’t frack. That is nonsense. And I believe the opposite. Furthermore has Mr Blenkinsop ever considered the possibility of fracking not being viable in the U.K.? It failed in Poland and Denmark and it may yet in the U.K. Is Mr Blenkinsop suggesting our great steel industry has no future without fracking? Of course not – so it is he who should think things through more carefully.
    We must move forwards with an ever greener economy for the sake of future generations, industry and the economy. The move away from fossil fuels is global with some of our biggest competitors, including the Chinese, investing far more than the U.K. in renewables and related technology. The transition requires huge investment and that investment is needed now if we are to compete in a global market. We need to be at the forefront of this if we want sustainable jobs and a strong economy.
    Political will and investment is needed to transition our energy and to support our steel industry. Even fossil fuel supporters now recognise this – the argument is when not if.
    This is where long term sustainable jobs will come from. Not waiting a decade or more for fracking – which may or may not be viable and is another fossil fuel that is deeply unpopular and unsustainable.
    Mr Blenkinsop is acting with the best of intentions and we all want to support jobs and industry but he is backing the wrong horse and in the long term is not doing his supporters any favours.

  2. The potential for thriving renewable energy industries is massive and must surely far outweigh that from a short term shale oil and gas industry. The number of jobs generated would easily outnumber those in the steel industry, which could also benefit from the manufacture of renewable energy devices in the UK.

  3. Do these ministers and unions ever stop to consider the effect on the 1000s of people employed in the LNG infrastructure in Kent and Wales? This infrastructure was created less than 10 years ago and pushed through the planning system on energy security grounds.

    • Very good point….and if we stop importing from the Middle East, do they stop importing from us? How much is that worth to British Aerospace I wonder?

    • If we have enough gas to export we can reverse the terminals as they have recently done in the US and export LNG?

  4. Still wondering what plan B is.
    If we still don’t know if fracking is viable then what do you suppose we will do to keep lights on and stop us from dying in the winter!!!!
    Perhaps like Brexit they have no idea what they are doing.
    Let’s be clear the only ones benefitting if fracking ever gets a foothold is the chemical industries. It’s estimated their energy costs will be halved. That’s it.
    Nothing to do with domestic supply. No drop in bills. That’s been ruled out as highly unlikely. As for steel industry. …what makes you think British steel will be used? We all know how pecious the steel industry is to the Govt. Not.

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