With the last result now in, what’s does the election mean for fracking and onshore drilling?

BBC final result

The Conservatives lost Kensington to Labour by 20 votes in the past hour in the final seat to be declared following yesterday’s general election.

The result puts the Tories on 318 seats, eight short of the 326 needed for an overall majority. The party is now reliant on the parliamentary support of 10 MPs from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party.

The full results

Conservative 318 (down 12)

Labour 262 (up 30)

SNP 35 (down 21)

Lib Dem 12 (up 4)

DUP 10 (up 2)

Other parties 13 (down 2)

What happens now?

Political commentators have questioned how long an arrangement with the DUP would last. They’ve raised the prospect of the Prime Minister being politically vulnerable in the House of Commons to just a handful of rebels.

The BBC’s assistant political editor, Norman Smith, suggested this evening that with the Brexit negotiations and the Great Repeal Bill on the parliamentary agenda “other parts of the Tory manifesto that are remotely contentious may be ditched”.

The Conservatives and UKIP were the only parties to support fracking. Labour, Lib Dems and Greens promised a ban or opposition.

The Tory manifesto committed the party to a change in the planning laws in support of the shale gas industry. This included changing non-fracking drilling to permitted development so that planning applications would not be required and deciding permission for major fracking schemes centrally.

Based on past performance, the DUP is likely to back this support for fracking but there’s a question over whether a Conservative government now has the will or the stamina to deliver on its promise.

What does the DUP think about fracking?

There was nothing specific about shale gas or onshore drilling in the DUP manifesto and it did not use the words “fracking”, “shale” or “hydraulic fracturing”.

The party said it would “carry out a “fundamental review of energy policy to ensure that consumers and businesses have a secure energy supply that moves ever closer to the EU median price”.

But in 2016, its former Treasury spokesperson, Sammy Wilson, backed Theresa May’s proposal to make direct payments to households in fracking areas. At the time, he told the Belfast Telegraph:

“The UK needs to exploit fully the natural resources available to it.

“The impetus which gas from fracking has given to the US economy should not be spurned in the UK and hopefully the incentives being promised to households in affected areas will counter the influence of the green activists who descend on areas where projects are planned claiming to be representative of local residents and then preventing firms from going about their legitimate businesses. The Government proposal will focus local residents on the personal losses which they face by the invasion of eco warriors.”

Mr Wilson was returned as MP for Antrim East yesterday with a majority of nearly 16,000 and 57.3% of the vote.

Any deal with the Conservatives will be done by the DUP leader, Arlene Foster, who, as Minister of Enterprise for the Stormont Government, allocated licences for onshore oil and gas exploration in Northern Ireland.

Industry view

The industry has not responded yet to the election result. But Rigzone, the oil and gas news website, reported that hung parliament in the UK can only lead to the potential for further uncertainty in the oil and gas industry.

It quoted Michael Burns, oil and gas partner at law firm Ashurst:

“This will be particularly felt in the UK’s shale gas industry, which will be watching carefully as the inevitable political ‘moving and shaking’ over the next days, weeks and months will be key to its near and longer-term prospects.”

Shares in IGas closed down nearly 6% on the day and UK Oil and Gas Investments plc fell nearly 2%.

Green view

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK said:

“The outcome of this election leaves no room for a divisive and partisan approach to addressing the challenges Britain faces, starting with Brexit. A minority government will have to listen to the majority of UK people and build consensus around the values most of us share. And Theresa May should start by listening to her own voters, the vast majority of whom want our environmental laws to be improved not scrapped.

“Solar and wind power are incredibly popular, yet the government has been dithering over seriously backing both industries. It has overruled local councils to impose unpopular fracking on communities in Lancashire and Yorkshire. Concerns about air pollution have been first ignored, then thrown the sop of a toothless action plan.

“The Conservative manifesto promised global leadership on climate and a healthier environment for the next generation. Since these goals are shared by nearly all other parties, this is something the government can and must deliver on. We’re going to hold the prime minister to her word. “

Voting patterns

Supporters of fracking suggested on social media that the increased share of the vote for pro-fracking Conservatives in two key constituencies showed that the anti-fracking movement had failed to have an impact on the election.

Backing fracking election 2017

But there’s no clear story from the results.

Mark MenziesThe Conservative, Mark Menzies, certainly increased his share of the vote in Fylde, the Lancashire constituency where Cuadrilla is preparing to drill shale gas wells. His share was up by 9.7%. But the Labour candidate, Jed Sullivan, increased his share by 14.6% and the Conservative majority of 11,805 was down from 13,224 in 2015. Observers reported some of the anti-fracking vote going to Labour.

KevinHollinrakeIn Thirsk and Malton, in North Yorkshire, where Third Energy has permission to frack its well at Kirby Misperton, the sitting MP, Kevin Hollinrake, increased his share of the vote by 7.4%. But again, the Labour candidate increased his party’s share by more, at 10.6%. Kevin Hollinrake still had a huge majority of 19,001. But it was down by more than 400 votes on 2015.

In other shale gas constituencies, there was no clear pattern.

In South Yorkshire, where the entire area is licensed for oil and gas exploration, Labour had all 14 seats. But not all these elected MPs have opposed fracking in the past and some have supported it.

The Conservatives took two shale gas constituencies in the East Midlands: North East Derbyshire  and Mansfield. But in North East Derbyshire the Conservative candidate, Lee Rowley, had opposed INEOS plans for exploratory drilling in the constituency, while Labour’s Natascha Engel, who won in 2015, had supported the scheme. Before the election she had predicted to DrillOrDrop this could be electorally damaging.

In Mansfield, where INEOS has an exploration licence for shale gas, the situation was reversed with the losing Labour candidate, Sir Alan Meale, had said he “totally against” fracking, describing it as “dirty…dangerous and the science unproven”. The Conservative candidate, Ben Bradley, who took the seat had told the BBC that fracking was “worth exploring in the very least”.

In Chester, it was different again with the anti-fracking Labour candidate, Chris Matheson, increasing his majority over the Conservatives from 93 to more than 9,000. And in Warrington South, the pro-fracking Conservative, David Mowat, lost the seat after seven years to Labour’s Faisal Rashid. He told the Warrington Guardian today: “I did not see it coming to be honest”. His vote went up by 1,000 but Labour’s rose by more than 6,500

tina-rotheryReflecting on the result tonight, the Green Party candidate for Fylde, Tina Rothery, a veteran anti-fracking campaigner, said:

“Labour is the only party that can ban fracking.

“Now the issue is in the manifestos, we really need to see positive and immediate actions by Labour and their local parties in licensed areas, to support the anti-fracking movement on the frontlines and bring this business to an end.”

Updated 10/6/2017 with quote from Greenpeace 

41 replies »

  1. A fascinating flurry by the anti-anti’s spouting self justification and accusing everyone else of failure except for themselves? That is very amusing. Perhaps one …..May…..ask how did the anti-anti’s fare so remarkably well that they lost a 40% majority down to a minority and plunged the tory party into this hung parliament debacle? Was that so very clever?
    All verbal smoke and mirrors isn’t it?
    The truth is that many people voted that have rarely if ever voted before, and many of them voted labour, if that is not an abject failure of the anti-anti’s I don’t know what is. Fracking has been so sidelined out of the owned media it never was given the chance become the issue it really is, too many dirty politics personality assassination opportunities to drown the entire campaign in gutter press torrid hatred for that.
    Most voted against that manifesto that was so offensive to damn near everyone, fracking was just one more in the litany of suicidal combative rhetoric that led to two reportedly ‘impossible’ policy spin doctors redundant yesterday, maybe UKIP will snap them up?
    Teresa in disarray, civil war in the tory party, DUP playing hard to get? Perhaps there will be slow orange marches in front of traffic in Britain now? But that is OK isn’t it? Not extremist at all is it? That wont require 60 policemen to harass old ladies and councillors will it? A bunch of Hard Line Unionists will be welcome wont they?
    Teresa’s days are numbered, Boris and Amber champing at the bit, god save us from that prospect! I said May would fall on her own political sword, even Amber Rudd had to have 5 recounts and only narrowly got in by some of those highly suspicious postal votes suddenly becoming visible? Postal votes are one of those many suspicious elephants that no one wants to talk about, they will all have to hold their breath if any more are squeezed in? Postal vote issues are being investigated as we speak. I would not be surprised if the postal vote issue was quickly buried under the growing numbers of very lumpy elephant shaped carpets in No10?
    Its like watching a slow motion car crash, or Wiley Coyote, suddenly feeling the air beneath his feet? Its a long way down. The eventual fall will be spectacular, and all by their own actions.

    [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

    • Don’t think I’ve seen one Tory say they didn’t campaign was a failure? But Labour still fell way short. Lesson learnt and won’t happen again. You had your shot like the SNP and the party is over.

      • Have to disagree there GBK. Election announced at short notice, Labour would have expected this next year. Yet they pulled a fully costed manifesto out of the bag, unlike the Cons crap effort (anyone would have thought they did not want to win with this controversial cow poo).

        The results have proved a shift and also Corbyn now has broken through the media erroneous alter persona created for him from the Con media moguls, oops another own goal. Talking to the public am getting YES to Labour.

        Whether May crash dives this week or in a couple of months, we are all in for an uncertain time and sooner or later that election will be called again. Labour are confident, SNP know where they went wrong; this could be fun!

      • This tory electoral debacle WAS the lesson! There will be no more lessons, only consequences. I cant imagine the DUP being easy bed fellows, the troubles were not that long ago and the uneasy peace is still bubbling away, there are some very raw nerves right there to be expressed. The whole brexit issue has a very special significance due to that long unpoliced border between the EU republicans and the UK Unionists, now there is an issue that will run and run and run and run.

  2. I will do a conspiracy theory like Phil C here. They couldn’t do and didn’t want a hard Brexit but didn’t want to lose face amd so play the election to scan the public opinion and excuse. If they win good hard brexit they lose soft Brexit and claim well the voters want it. Maybe a bit of a stretch.

    • Sherwulfe, although we disagree on a lot of things I usually understand where you are generally coming from, but I cannot believe you are as naive to believe in Labours ‘costed manifesto’. In simple terms what would happen is this: had Corbyn got into power he would have realised in 12 months time the extra tax he expected to get would not be delivered, he would borrow your money and put it into public services. it would seem like everything is going great and then boom…….bust. Then tories would smash Labour into little pieces in 5 years time….ooo haven’t we heard this story before ? Similar thing happened in the US and now we have Trump, we don’t want that to happen in the UK.

      • Thanks for your concern GBK.

        I believe the figures show the Cons have borrowed more than labour ever have. They also have ‘hidden’ taxes of tuition fees (30 year tax) and work place pensions ( workers already paying for their pensions, and for longer) so that the govt can ‘borrow’ this money to stave off the national debt (but not for much longer?).

        I can see your point of view and to be honest, no government has ever got it completely right. In truth I would prefer a government that borrows for ALL of the people and not just a few (after all, the reality is that ‘money’ no longer exists). 😉

        Our NHS is in disarray; I recently waited 5 hours to be seen in an emergency, another family member waited 4 and a half hours for a blue light emergency ambulance; we all have poor NHS stories. Our education system is in nose dive and our children saddled with huge debt before they start. People are dying through lack of support. Children with vulnerabilities are being ignored, they too are no longer fully supported; social workers, teachers, support staff, medical staff, to name but a few, are imploding through stress and lack of resources…

        This is the Conservative’s legacy.

        Now they are threatening the fragile stability in Ireland for their own selfish inability to see their shortfalls.

        This government can’t last much longer. Like fracking, people are becoming more aware and are finding a voice. I just hope it’s not too late (we British do tend to wait until we are on the cliff edge before acting!!)

        Our ‘Trump’ is BJ; god help us!!!

      • And now for the laugh of the century –

        ‘Michael Gove appointed environment secretary in cabinet reshuffle’

        Well done TMay; he’s gonna wind up the farmers like he did the educators…..not long now.

        • More tangled weaving and ducking and diving isnt it? Minister for the Environment……a little clue there perhaps, this slow motion car crash seems to be inviting new crash test dummies? Let all the worms hatch out as Claudius said.

    • Oh, what fun! I can do a conspiracy theory just like the TW faulty AI translation, which needs a new spell checker and translator btw?

      Its all really a plot by the top Russian agent Тереза ​​май who deliberately threw the elections to stop fracking in UK so we have to continue buying Russian Gas? Ha Ha!

      Of course this was only really given away by secret Russian hit man Джордж Осборн, who said that Тереза ​​май is “a dead woman walking”! for blowing their cover, maybe he has been given the contract? what a load of nonsense!

      You see we can all accuse someone of conspiracy theories TW, its an unscrupulous trick to hide behind meaningless epithets in order to deride the opposition as if that somehow diminishes the validity of the argument, it does not, and yet the very accusation is also conspiracy theory in itself, so it is quite self defeating [Edited by moderator]
      Always a pleasure.

  3. Why Labour nearly won, offers of free everything to the young, who don’t realise they have to pay for it later…

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