In this Fracking Week in Parliament:
- Caroline Flint on funding energy efficiency from shale tax revenues
- Alan Brown and Tom Elliott on plans for a shale wealth fund
- Mark Menzies on re-opening the Roseacre Wood public inquiry
- Baroness Jones on fracking opposition and counter terrorism
With thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com for the transcripts
21 November 2016
Adjournment debate on shale gas wealth fund
Extracts of speech by debate proposer, Caroline Flint, Labour, Don Valley
I want to discuss the proposal for an initial 10% of tax revenues to be deposited in a shale wealth fund—a sovereign wealth fund by any other name. The fund should be ring fenced for a clear purpose, such as improving the UK’s energy efficiency, using the proceeds from a fossil fuel to reduce our future dependence on those same energy sources.
The great thing about energy efficiency is that it has a multiplier effect. It not only makes our homes warmer and reduces bills, but creates jobs and encourages innovation, too. Although it will be a national fund, the delivery should be at a local level, and the leadership should be held regionally within our communities across the UK.
A shale wealth fund could provide an opportunity to enhance a large-scale retrofit of the UK’s housing stock, protecting households from future energy price rises. The fund should not be the only programme for energy efficiency, but it would provide a new means beyond passporting the cost to the general bill payer.
the UK has ambitious and legally binding emissions targets, and we shall have to meet those targets, with 80% of the UK built environment still existing in 2050. The UK building stock is a long way from the low-energy housing stock that the UK will need, and the challenge is still huge
Many of the easiest measures have been undertaken first. Now Britain needs to finish the job. An energy efficiency dedicated shale wealth fund could be a hugely positive step.
Question from Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative, Thirsk and Malton
Most of my constituency is covered by exploration licences for shale, so I have done a lot of research, visited Pennsylvania and set up an all-party parliamentary group on the subject. Does the right hon. Lady accept that the greatest impact of shale gas exploration is above the ground and consists of traffic movements, noise and light pollution? As a consequence, does she agree that some of the financial benefits should go directly to some of the householders who bear the brunt of those difficulties?
I entirely agree. Some of those problems come down to planning. As in any other planning arrangements, there should be mitigation by any developer of any undue impacts caused in the community. It is important to emphasise that not every place that is the subject of an application will get through, because of the drawbacks that the hon. Gentleman outlines. There are many different ways that compensation could be found from shale gas development, whether through the planning process, the £100,000 per well, 1% of revenues to local communities, or the shale wealth fund
Let the shale wealth fund become a warm Britain fund: a fund that is a friend to those households who have yet to see the benefits of energy efficiency; a fund that foresees a low-carbon Britain and contributes to that goal; a fund that creates jobs in every community, uniting politicians and the public for the common good—a fund that truly leaves a legacy.
Extracts from speech by Jane Ellison, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Conservative, Battersea
The Government are backing the safe development of shale gas. We have over 50 years’ experience of regulating onshore oil and gas. The UK has the experience to develop our shale gas industry while at the same time ensuring the most robust and stringent protections for our environment, too.
We believe, as I sense other Members do, that shale gas is an important step forwards in a number of respects. It is a way to secure our energy supply by using our own domestic resources, as we have heard. It also brings with it the potential for tens of thousands of new jobs across various sectors, from the oil and gas industry to construction and engineering. I was very struck when I recently chaired our oil and gas forum in the Treasury just how many jobs are created in supply chains by these industries—it was one of the most striking things to come out of that discussion.
Of course, natural gas will continue to play an important role in our energy system as we move towards a low-carbon economy. We are absolutely committed to reducing our carbon emissions by at least 80% by 2050, compared with 1990 levels. Members on both sides of the House will recognise the fundamental importance of us doing so as part of the collective— indeed, global—efforts to stop climate change in its tracks. We are the first country to propose a phase-out of unabated coal, with gas and nuclear forming the secure base of our future energy mix as we continue to develop renewables and improve energy efficiency.
Shale will be a new, domestic source of gas, which adds to our energy security as we make the shift from coal to reduce our carbon emissions. Gas is the cleanest fossil fuel, producing half the carbon emissions of coal when it comes to generating power. Studies have shown that the carbon footprint of our shale gas would be significantly less than coal and comparable to the liquefied natural gas we import. In short, the shale gas resources beneath Britain could contribute to our security of supply, to jobs, and to increasing tax revenue, while providing a bridge to the greener future we all support.
That is why, in the previous Parliament, we put in place the right fiscal framework to make sure that the incentives are in place for investment in shale gas. It is worth reminding the House that there is an estimated potential cumulative investment in the region of £33 billion. As we explore our shale gas resources, we are also exploring how we can make the most of the benefits that the industry could bring to our economy. Specifically, we want to ensure that the communities and regions that host shale activity will benefit directly from doing so. By that, I mean that they should benefit beyond the boost to the local economy that one would expect them to receive in any case from the development of this new industry. The Prime Minister has been very clear on this. Local people must come first, not only in their involvement in the planning decisions that affect them, with all shale gas applications requiring a full consultation with local people, but in sharing the benefits with the areas in which the industry is developed, with a significant proportion of this expected in the north. That means that the shale industry could play an important role in the economic development of parts of the northern powerhouse, helping to drive local growth, investment and jobs even further.
The shale wealth fund is a big part of how we are going to deliver these benefits for local areas. It will consist initially of up to 10% of all the tax revenues arising from shale gas production, all of which should be used for the benefit of the communities that host shale sites. I want to be clear on two points: first, this is new funding, not money used to replace any existing Government funding; and secondly, it will be in addition to any benefits provided by the shale industry itself.
We estimate that it could provide up to £l billion in total and each community could receive up to £10 million. We want this money to go towards leaving a positive legacy for the future of these areas.
We believe that local people should have a say over how best to use any such funding—for example, about whether it should be used to support new job opportunities, develop or enhance community assets, be invested in skills or be invested in green energy.
23 November 2016
Debate on the Autumn statement
Question by Alan Brown, Scottish National Party, Kilmarnock and Loudoun
The Green Book confirms a £1 billion shale wealth fund, but after more than four decades we are still awaiting an oil fund in Scotland. However, the big ask is on loan guarantees. Given that the Thames tideway project got a £4.2 billion loan guarantee, can the Chancellor confirm the value of loan guarantees for oil and gas as soon as possible?
Reply by Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Conservative, Runnymede and Weybridge
I have announced today that the UK loan guarantee scheme will be extended until at least 2016. It has a very significant amount of headroom; I think the cap on it at the moment is £40 billion, and we are nowhere near using up that capacity. The important thing about the UK loan guarantee scheme is that it underpins projects at an early stage. Many projects have gone ahead without loan guarantees, but because they had a commitment on the loan guarantee they were able to proceed and then eventually were able to get funding without it. It is playing a very important role that is understated by the measure of guarantees actually issued.
Question by Tom Elliott, Ulster Unionist Party, Fermanagh and South Tyrone
On the shale wealth fund, is the £1 billion totally Treasury money or is some of it coming from the companies that will be developing the shale gas project?
Reply by Philip Hammond
It is money coming from the companies.
24 November 2016
Written question on reopening Roseacre Wood inquiry
Question by Mark Menzies, Conservative, Fylde
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, with reference to his decision to reopen the planning inquiry into the highways safety aspects of Cuadrilla Resources’ appeal against Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse planning permission to build shale gas wells at its Roseacre Wood site, whether the analysis supporting his decision differs from that of the inspector concerned on any matter of fact mentioned in or otherwise material to a conclusion reached by that inspector in that case; and what new evidence or new matter of fact he has taken into consideration on the highways safety aspects of that case that has informed his decision to reopen the planning inquiry.
Reply by Gavin Barwell, Local Government Minister, Conservative, Croydon Central
Full reasons for the Secretary of State’s decision are set out in the decision letter that was published on 6 October 2016.
In reaching his decision, the Secretary of State took into account the wide range of relevant issues that were raised and evidence that was put forward in this appeal, as well as the detailed findings, conclusions and recommendations of the Planning Inspector who held a public inquiry.
The decision letter and the Inspector’s Report are available at:
Written questions on fracking opposition and domestic extremism
Question by Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Green
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many regional Counter Terrorism Units have been involved in monitoring anti-fracking protests, and how many arrests for a serious crime have been made by each unit as a result of such monitoring activity.
Reply by Baroness Williams of Trafford, Home Office Minister
The Government does not hold information on the monitoring by police Counter-Terrorism Units of anti-fracking activity, or the number of arrests made by each Unit associated with any such activity.
Question by Baroness Jones
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what guidance they have given to the police about the use of covert infiltration of anti-fracking groups.
Reply by Baroness Williams
The Government has not given specific guidance to the police on the use of undercover officers in anti-fracking groups. This is an operational matter. However, the police use of undercover officers and other covert sources is regulated by Part 2 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and subject to guidance in the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Code of Practice published under section 71 of RIPA.
Question by Baroness Jones
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether Prevent training includes reference to participation in anti-fracking groups.
Reply by Baroness Williams
Prevent training does not include any reference to participation in anti-fracking groups.
Question by Baroness Jones
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what guidance they have given to the police about the exchange of information between the police and representatives of the coal and gas industry.
Reply by Baroness Williams
The Government has not issued guidance to the police regarding exchanges of information between the police and the coal and gas industry. The National Police Chiefs Council has issued guidance to forces on policing linked to onshore oil and gas operations.