Fracking Week in Parliament: 14-18 November 2016


In this Fracking Week in Parliament:

  • Fracking sand 
  • Shale gas and health
  • Gas field earthquakes 
  • Scottish government fracking policy

Thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com for the transcripts


15 November 2016

Written question on fracking sand

Lord GreavesQuestion by Lord Greaves, Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps will be taken to mitigate the effects of sand used in the fracking process being released into the atmosphere.

baroness-neville-rolfeReply by Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Energy Minister, Conservative

Sand is used in the hydraulic fracturing process to keep the tiny fractures in the shale open. Sand itself does not pose a risk to health, but in some situations where sand is used on well sites the risk of occupational exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) should be considered by the employer. Occupational Health and Safety is under the remit of the Health and Safety Executive, who have issued guidance and advice to help employers manage risks and to raise awareness of the importance of controlling exposure to harmful materials at work.

Link to question

Westminster Hall debate on the circular economy

angela-smith-mpExtract of Speech by Angela Smith, Labour, Penistone and Stocksbridge

In the steel industry, the message about procurement has been heard, and procurement rules have been changed not just for steel but for the benefit of manufacturing more generally. On top of that, real efforts have been made to enable the steel industry to develop extra capacity to meet future demand. For instance, in relation to shale gas, there are projects, I believe supported by Government, to ensure that UK steel can—if possible—take advantage of that developing industry. It is really disappointing to hear that kind of commitment on the one hand, and the lack of commitment we have heard today on the other [in relation to recycling paint].

Link to debate

16 November 2016

Written question on earthquakes and fracking

Question by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report from the Dutch Safety Board in February 2015 into the man-made earthquakes in Groningen proven to be a result of shale gas extraction; and what assessment they have made of the parallels that can be drawn in relation to UK geology and the safety of the UK’s shale gas operations.

Reply by Baroness Neville-Rolfe

Extraction of shale gas has not induced any earthquakes in Groningen.

The UK has over 50 years’ experience in regulating onshore oil and gas, and strong controls are in place to mitigate seismic risks. Operators have to use all available geological information to assess the location of faults before wells are drilled to avoid hydraulic fracturing near faults. They must then monitor seismic activity in real time, before, during and after operations, and halt injection if seismic activity exceeds a predefined level.

Operators must immediately stop injection if a tremor of magnitude 0.5 or greater is detected, reduce pressure of fluid in the well and then monitor seismicity for 24 hours to determine whether any later events are recorded before any further activity can take place.

This 0.5 threshold has been adopted as an initial precautionary level set on the basis of a report by a group of independent experts, and a tremor of this magnitude would only be detectable at the ground’s surface through the use of sensitive equipment.

Link to question

18 November 2016

Written question on fracking and health

margaret-ferrier-mpQuestion by Margaret Ferrier, SNP, Rutherglen and Hamilton

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his Department’s policies in England of the conclusions of the report of Health Protection Scotland, entitled A Health Impact Assessment of Unconventional Oil and Gas in Scotland, published on 8 November 2016.

jesse-norman-mpReply by Jesse Norman, Energy Minister, Conservative, Hereford and South Herefordshire

Health Protection Scotland’s report  highlights some of the potential hazards associated with unconventional gas and oil extraction but, in line with Public Health England’s report in 2014, it finds that risks can be mitigated by adopting a range of precautionary measures involving operational best practice, regulatory frameworks and community engagement.

Link to question

Coming up: Monday 21 November 2016

Purpose of the Shale Wealth Fund: adjournment debate in the House of Commons proposed by Caroline Flint, Labour, Don Valley. Details


17 November 2016

Questions on First Minister’s engagements

Ruth Davidson - Conservative - Edinburgh Central

Extract from a question by Ruth Davidson, Opposition leader, Edinburgh Central

Here is the First Minister’s record: on apprenticeships, it is no clear plan to tell employers; on education reform, it is wait and see; on welfare, it is a three-year delay; on Frank’s law, it is clear as mud; on national health service reform, it is coming soon; on an investment deal with China, it is a Scottish shambles; and on the decision on fracking, we will get back to you.

The SNP is dithering, not delivering. Two years ago, when the First Minister accepted the role of First Minister for all of Scotland that was bestowed on her by this Parliament, she stood up and said:

“I intend to lead a Government with purpose, a Government that is bold, imaginative and adventurous.”

First Minister, what happened?

Link to questions

Debate on innovation

Shirley-Anne Somerville - SNP - Dunfermiline

Extract of speech by Shirley-Anne Somerville, Minister for further education, higher education and science, SNP, Dunfermline

Innovation is critical to our ambition to shift the dial on Scotland’s economic performance. That is why it features heavily in the four pillars of the Government’s economic strategy. It is why we have published the Scotland can do statement of intent for Scotland to become a world-leading nation in innovation and entrepreneurship. It is why the innovation centre programme was established in 2013 to drive greater collaboration between industry and academia and to build on our research strengths.

The programme has been developed with and is being delivered through the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, supported by Government funding of up to £120 million between 2013 and 2019. The eight innovation centres sit within some of our key sectors: construction; oil and gas; stratified medicine; digital health; industrial bio-technology; sensors and imaging; big data; and aquaculture.

Liam Kerr - Conservative - North East

Extract of speech by Liam Kerr, Conservative, North East Scotland

We believe that innovation centres are a step in the right direction. I am again grateful to Tavish Scott for pointing out the vital work of the oil and gas innovation centre in Aberdeen, which is doing important work in incredibly uncertain times for the industry in asset integrity and life extension, decommissioning, remotely operated underwater vehicle research, shale gas exploration and production optimisation, to name but a few areas.

Link to debate


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