Politics

No fracking references in Queen’s Speech

Queen's speech - evening standard

Yesterday’s Evening Standard. Photo: Jon O’Houston

As predicted by several newspapers yesterday, Conservative manifesto pledges on shale gas did not make it into this morning’s Queen’s Speech.

The outline of the government’s legislative programme included 27 bills or draft bills, of which eight were on Brexit.

But the proposals to change the planing system for shale gas exploration and fracking were not mentioned.

The only reference to energy was:

“My government will ensure fairer markets for consumers, this will include bringing forward measures to help tackle unfair practices in the energy market to help reduce energy bills.”

Manifesto promise

Conservative manifesto shale

The manifesto promised to treat non-fracking drilling as permitted development, which would not require planning permission. It also said major shale planning decisions would be made by a planning inspector or government minister, as nationally-significant infrastructure. Conservative Manifesto 2017

The only reference to infrastructure in the Queen’s Speech is related to national security:

“My government will bring forward proposals to ensure that critical national infrastructure is protected to safeguard national security.”

On the day of the manifesto launch, in May, the industry body, UK Onshore Oil and Gas, and the country’s biggest exploration  licence holder, INEOS, both welcomed the manifesto commitments. DrillOrDrop report

DrillOrDrop asked both if they had a comment today. A spokesperson for UKOOG said:

“We have several projects going through planning and exploratory drilling is taking place so the industry is making solid progress.”

Other manifesto proposals missing from the Queen’s Speech include promises on social care, fox hunting, means-testing the winter fuel allowance, repealing the ban on new selective schools and replacing free school lunches with breakfasts.

Other reaction

Greenpeace welcomed the absence of the changes to planning laws.

Queens speech Greenpeace reax 170621

The anti-fracking campaign group, Frack Free United, said:

“This is a good day for communities and local democracy. Yes, nothing has really changed and we will have to continue the fight to protect communities from being turned into fracking gas fields, but make no mistake, this is a tipping point.

 

“The industry will only flourish with government support and the Conservative party U-turn on the manifesto pledge is a real shot in the arm for the campaign, providing even more energy into our campaign for the battles ahead.”

Di Keal, Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for Thirsk and Malton, where Third Energy has permission to frack a well, said:

“This is a move in the right direction. We were appalled by the Tory bid to drive a sledgehammer through local democracy in their pledge to take planning decisions on fracking applications away from local control – and this back tracking is good to see, but there is a long way to go until the industry is wiped out in the UK.

“The Liberal Democrats have listened to the public’s overwhelming opposition to the fracking industry and are calling for an outright ban on this hugely damaging, unsustainable industry. We will continue to fight the Tories ‘dash for gas’ from an industry that puts at risk public health, the environment, jobs and the economy.”

 

 

 

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