Labour comes out against fracking – but will its candidates in shale gas constituencies back the ban?

Labour frontline.jpg

As predicted, Labour’s manifesto, published this morning, includes a promise to ban fracking.

The document states:

“Labour will ban fracking because it would lock us into an energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels, long after the point in 2030 when the Committee on Climate Change says gas in the UK must sharply decline.”

It also said Labour was committed to renewable energy projects, including tidal lagoons, and transform energy systems, investing in “new, state-of-the-art low-carbon gas and renewable electricity production”.

The manifesto also said a Labour government would ensure that 60% of the UK’s energy came from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030 and electricity generation would be taken into public ownership.

So will Labour’s candidates get behind the ban? DrillOrDrop reviews the opinions of Labour hopefuls standing in constituencies in the fracking front line. We will look at the other party manifestos when they are published over the coming days.

natascha engelNatascha Engel, North East Derbyshire

Fracking is a key issue in North East Derbyshire, where Natascha Engel is defending a majority at the last election of 1,883.

The area comprises five shale gas exploration licences, all held by INEOS Shale. This week, the company submitted its first planning application for a vertical well on the edge of the village of Marsh Lane (DrillOrDrop report).

This appears to have prompted Ms Engel to post a letter to constituents on her website:

“I am not against fracking as long as the industry stays highly regulated and controlled.

“If taking shale out of the ground in the UK means that we have fewer greenhouse gas emissions, that we can control our own energy and get prices down because we are not importing it, if it creates a whole new industry with good jobs, if it is good for Derbyshire, then I support it.”

Ms Engel’s position on the INEOS scheme appears to have changed markedly from January when it was first announced, and she was quoted by the Derbyshire Times:

“This is terrible news for the people of Marsh Lane and Eckington. Many residents have contacted me concerned for their safety and the security of their houses. I will be meeting INEOS and the county council to see how we can get a safety zone around areas where people live.”

Her office was photographed in January with an anti-fracking poster in the window.

Natascha Engel office

But in her latest letter, she said opposition to fracking and the INEOS scheme would have “been an easy campaign to justify and may well be a vote winner”. But she added:

“Those of you who know me also know that I stand by my principles and would never campaign for something I don’t believe in. I have always put my constituents’ well-being above all else and would never support anything that I thought was unsafe.”

She said she hoped for a “proper debate” in which everyone could raise their “issues and concerns”.

She said:

“Spreading scare stories for which there is no reliable evidence about increases in cancer rates and low-birth-weight babies is unforgiveable. I have not seen credible evidence to support this and it should have no place in the debate about energy, climate change and shale.”

Ms Engel said she had been having discussions with INEOS about the Marsh Lane plans. In its application, INEOS said:

“Natascha Engel MP met the company as part of her research into issues around
shale gas extraction. INEOS hosted a visit by Ms. Engel to their four well gas
production facility near Warrington, Cheshire as part of her fact finding series of
visits to well sites and protest camps in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire.”

Voting record

In January 2015, Ms Engel voted in favour of an explicit requirement for an environmental permit for hydraulic fracturing but in February she voted against requiring a more extensive set of conditions for fracking. She was absent in December 2015 for a vote on the protected area regulations and fracking.

Other candidates

Other candidates standing in the election for this constituency are Lee Rowley (Conservative), David Lomas (Lib Dem), James Bush (UKIP), anti-fracking campaigner David Kesteven (Greens).

John MannJohn Mann, Labour candidate, Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire

John Mann is defending a majority of more than 8,000 in Bassetlaw, where IGas was given permission for a total of three shale gas wells at two sites, Springs Road, Misson, and Tinker Lane, between Blyth and Barnby Moor.

In January he told Lincolnshire Live:

“Local people must have the right to a final say on any location. I have always maintained the position that fracking should only go ahead with the full consent and involvement of local people, who should have the final say on any application and in securing any potential benefits or investment from fracking for their community.”

He objected to both the IGas planning applications, neither of which sought permission for fracking.

Voting record

But his parliamentary voting record is mixed. In January 2015, he voted to require an environmental permit for hydraulic fracturing and for an 18-month ban on the exploitation of unconventional petroleum. But a month later, he voted against more extensive conditions for fracking and in December 2015, against greater restrictions on the process in protected areas.

Other candidates

Other candidates are: Leon Duveen (Lib Dem), Annette Simpson (Conservative) and Nigel Turner (Independent).

Jed SullivanJed Sullivan, Fylde, Lancashire

In Fylde, where Cuadrilla has permission for frack up to four wells at Preston New Road, Labour’s candidate, Jed Sullivan, is strongly against the process.

He told the shadow chancellor, John Mcdonald, last week:

“In my constituency, fracking is an absolute deal-breaker. People are on the streets. They’ve never voted Labour in their lives and they’ve phoned me up and said Jed, if Labour banned fracking, we’ll vote for you.

In a press statement this morning, Mr Sullivan said:

“Fylde’s residents are, quite rightly, very concerned about the prospect of fracking on their doorstep. Labour is the only party which will have the ability to ban fracking: a vote of Labour is a vote to stop fracking.”

Other candidates

The Conservative candidate, Mark Menzies, is defending a majority of more than 13,000. Other candidates standing this time are anti-fracking campaigner, Tina Rothery, for the Greens and Liberal Democrat Freddie Van Mierlo.

Alan AveryAlan Avery, Thirsk and Malton, North Yorkshire

The front page of Labour’s Thirsk and Malton constituency website shows Mr Avery with anti-fracking Labour supporters. He visited the Kirby Misperton Protection Camp, near where Third Energy has permission to frack its KM8 well in the constituency.

Alan Avery frontk page

Mr Avery said:

“We are firmly against any fracking taking place anywhere in the UK and especially in North Yorkshire.”

Other candidates

The Conservatives’ Kevin Hollinrake is defending a majority of 19,456. Other candidates are Martin Brampton (Green), John Clark (Liberal), Toby Horton (UKIP), anti-fracking campaigner Di Keal (Lib Dem) and Philip Tate (Independent).

Other reaction to Labour’s manifesto

Labour’s pledge to ban fracking has been cautiously welcomed by environmental campaign groups and opposed by the onshore oil and industry body.

Friends of the Earth described the manifesto generally as:

“a compelling and practical vision for a sustainable energy system which bans fracking, keeps our homes warm and powers them with clean electricity “a compelling and practical vision for a sustainable energy system”.

Greenpeace said it was strong on vision but thin on detail.

“Backing community-owned energy projects and ditching the top-down imposition of unpopular fracking is a smart move, and a new drive to insulate millions of homes will help cut energy bills too. But setting targets is one thing: hitting them quite another. The jury will be out until the actual policies come in.”

The industry organisation, UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) said the promise to ban fracking would

“hurt the UK’s energy security, see potential UK jobs find their way overseas and keep the cost of energy bills rising.”

UKOOG’s chief executive, Ken Cronin, said

“The Labour Party’s position has changed dramatically in two years and shows a misunderstanding of how we use energy in this country. The only solution to our pressing energy needs is a balanced mix of nuclear, renewables and gas – produced here in this country, creating tax revenues and skilled jobs.”

Other parties

Links to DrillOrDrop posts on the other party manifestos and candidates.


Lib Dem



26 replies »

  1. The chance of Labour being in government are slim to none and fracking is an entire non issue. The only issue is Europe.

    The irony of how a strong and stable Conservative party would be realistic on shale energy is not lost on me. In the unlikely event that there is a Labour government, I have no doubt that realism will set in.

    The Labour objection is of course ridiculous: the investment in UK shale is absolutely minimal compared to anything else (LNG, nuclear, offshore) and also avoids the key issue: What about heat? No one talks heat at all, even as they avoid the uncomfortable truth we can’t make it disappear via efficiency. The UK National Grid is an asset bought and paid for year ago, no investment required.

    I’m voting Lib Dem myself, whatever they say about shale for or against won’t change that.

    • Labor could just scrap in by narrowest margin if the anti Brexit turn out for a protest vote against the Brexit as shown in the poll after the Brexit referendum. So nothing is for sure.

  2. Its all a secret plan to nationalise shale gas if they get in – we had BNOC, BNFL, and now soon after we get a Labour Government we will get BNSG, shortly followed by BNBS….(can anyone guess the last one?).

    In the words of NATASCHA ENGEL, Labour Party Parliamentary candidate:

    “I am not against fracking as long as the industry stays highly regulated and controlled. If taking shale out of the ground in the UK means that we have fewer greenhouse gas emissions, that we can control our own energy and get prices down because we are not importing it, if it creates a whole new industry with good jobs, if it is good for Derbyshire, then I support it.”


    And there are many more with this view.

    • “If taking shale out of the ground in the UK means that we have fewer greenhouse gas emissions, that we can control our own energy and get prices down because we are not importing it, if it creates a whole new industry with good jobs” If if if eh? – if wishes were horses …

      Sounds like a cynical shift by somebody panicking about their slim majority and doing a headless chicken act as a result.

    • In a true democracy members of a political party may not always hold ALL of the views of their manifesto; this was proven in Lancashire when the swinging vote for rejection came from a Conservative Councillor.

      However, I would question the motivation of releasing this letter just before the GE. Clearly the Labour manifesto has stated they will ban fracking and concentrate on renewables, not because of production problems, but because of human contribution to climate change and the targets we have agreed to; again as part of a democratic process.

      I personally would not vote for a candidate that purports to support local opposition and then ‘switches’ to the blind rhetoric spewed out by the industry.

  3. It is obvious Engel is trying to throw her seat, she was not going to stand at the next election had it been in two years time as originally thought, and this snap election has caught her out.
    The statement she has realeased is a very good job application for INEOS or the GMB where she has strong ties, and who are also, like her, pro fracking. As one of her constituents I feel badly let down by her, as do many more who she is supposed to represent.

  4. I agree with Refracktion, it is all ifs and buts and maybes. You will always have some different opinions within a political party, some of the Conservatives do not support a no deal on Brexit, some support grammar schools some don’t and some of their MPs even oppose fracking. The fact is, irrespective of the outcome of the election, Labour support a ban on fracking as do the Lib Dems and the Green Party. And of course there is a moratorium on fracking in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Hardly a well supported industry.

  5. If Labour win then the anti fracking brigades will go YEEEHA. If the Conservative wins then oh well life goes on.

        • There’s an ole northern saying ‘ to fill me in’ but am not a violent person TW so you are safe with me….

          How exactly do I sound like the end of the world?

          Like this? You state life will go on after the Cons resume service; but what about all those who suffer because of under funding in the NHS; cannot get to hospital because there’s no money for ambulances (a four and a half hour wait for a blue light classification), people dying waiting outside in the paralyzed ambulance as there are no beds in A & E to discharge them to, young people diagnosed with cancer but cannot get full body scans to check if it has spread as there is no funding, (and before you comment – yes I have witnessed all the above).

          What about our kids who are being ripped off with extortionate tuition fees and debt for 30 years before they even get a job? Or those who break down at school because they cannot cope with the pressure of the narrow testing culture; teachers and pupils alike.

          And those who cannot access housing or benefits if they cannot get a job because the Cons lifted the threshold on age, so are now on the street; so much for those ‘false fact’ unemployment figures that don’t count these young people added to those forced onto second rate and paid for by the taxpayer ‘training courses’ to fudge the numbers.

          Is this how ‘life should go on’?

          ….think again…..

  6. Tina Rothery role model? This Chinese woman spend most of her day in China shale gas field…….while she was pregnant. Obviously her baby was fine and healthy in contrary to other people expectations. And her hard work pay off. She got a National medal.
    As for Tina. She also spent alot of time in the shale gas field Cuadrilla ought to give her a medal too.

  7. Since when have labour had an energy policy that makes sense or works??

    My memory goes back a long time, but for the youngsters, you may even remember Ed’s energy price FREEZE promise-just before energy prices DROPPED. They still don’t get the difference between a cap and a freeze. Or no replacement of old nuclear (kick it down the road because we have run out of money.) They borrowed that one from British Rail days.

    Even 5%Len knows there will be a Conservative majority of over 100 after the election. The thick students were seen yesterday cheering for not having to pay. The brighter ones will calculate there is no point to spending a few years at Uni. if when you leave there are no jobs because the increase in Corporation tax has driven some employers out of the UK and those who stay have cut costs by cutting numbers employed. Additionally, they have hiked up the price of the products they produce so you are out of a job with inflation going through the roof. And they will realise there will not be massive benefits available to compensate because the “cheap” money around is like “cheap” insurance-even if you have 30 years no claims bonus add your twin kids who have just passed their tests and want to use your vehicle in demolition derbies and the premium suddenly changes!

    Brexit multiplies such factors several times over. Check the bookies and the Footsie-their bets are already placed.

  8. Why would anyone not want to vote Labour? I mean they are able to magically create billions of pounds out of thin air. Fix the NHS, railways, education, police, energy. There will be no more wars as Corbyn will arrive in his pink unicorn anywhere in the world and urge them to talk it out instead of fight.
    A perfect utopia where everyone lives in utter harmony all paid for by……… borrowing.

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