Politics

Fracking Week in Parliament: 26-30 June 2017

Westminster

DrillOrDrop’s weekly digest from the UK’s parliaments returns after the local and the general elections with peers quizzing the government on its shale gas policy.

In this week’s post:

  • Baroness Jones warns against police monitoring of anti-fracking campaigners and questions minister on Lancashire policing
  • Baroness Royall congratulates anti-fracking supporters in the Forest of Dean
  • Peers and MPs question the government on its energy policy
  • MP’s maiden speech says fracking is “against all sense and wishes of constituents”

This post will be updated throughout the week. Here you can find transcripts of speeches, questions and answers about fracking and the UK onshore oil and gas industry. Thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com for the transcripts.


Thursday 29 June 2017

Catherine Atkinson MPQuestion by Catherine West
Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the Government’s policy is on fracking.

Richard Harrington MPReply by Richard Harrington
Conservative, Watford, Energy minister

Shale gas could create a new British industry, provide more jobs and make us less reliant on imports from abroad. The UK has over 50 years’ experience regulating the onshore oil and gas industry, and the Government supports safe and environmentally sound exploration to determine the potential of the UK’s shale gas resources.

Link to question and answer

Tonia Antoniazzi MP Labour GowerExtract of maiden speech by Tonia Antoniazzi
Labour, Gower

Gower is unlike any other constituency in the United Kingdom, with its peninsula in the south being the first in the UK to be designated an area of outstanding natural beauty, in 1956. The fact that Conservative Members wish to allow fracking under that fragile landscape goes against all sense and the wishes of my constituents. Fracking does not just affect the countryside or the surface site of the frack; it would occur underneath towns and villages, including old industrial areas of Gower and estuary areas.

Link to full speech


Wednesday 28 June 2017

Written questions on policing of anti-fracking protests in Lancashire

Questions by Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb
Green Party

baroness-jonesTo ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Home Office:

  1. Has been briefed by Lancashire Police on that force’s strategy for meeting its duty to both facilitate and protect rights to freedom of assembly.
  2. Has been briefed by Lancashire Police on the action which that force intends to take after the anti-fracking protests at Preston New Road have ended.
  3. Has produced any briefings on the anti-fracking protests at Preston New Road; and if so, whether they will publish those briefings.

Reply by Baroness Williams of Trafford
The Minister of State, Home Department

Baroness WilliamsThe management of protests, including anti-fracking protests, is an operational and independent matter for the police. The Home Office has not issued any guidance or briefings to the police on this matter.

As lead Government Department for the national risk of public disorder, the Home Office routinely receives briefings from police forces on related issues.

Links to questions and answer


Tuesday 27 June 2017

House of Lords Debate on the Queen’s Speech (4th day)

baroness-jonesExtract of speech by Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb
Green Party

I would welcome any legislation being brought forward that kept the police and the security services focused on the real problem of terrorism and serious crime rather than their wasting time and our money monitoring green campaigners, anti-fracking protesters, journalists and elected politicians. The Government’s manifesto said that they would consider what new offences or aggravated offences might be needed, but I recommend that your Lordships’ House block any legislation that does not include a clear definition of an extremist.

Link to full speech


Monday 26 June 2017

House of Lords Debate on the Queen’s Speech (3rd day)Lord Fox

Extract of speech by Lord Fox
Lib Dem Lords Spokesperson on business, energy and industrial strategy

There was an eye-catching provision in the Conservative Party manifesto—it is not the one that noble Lords are thinking of—that pointed to the formation of a future Britain sovereign wealth fund, largely funded from shale gas extraction revenues. Will the Minister tell your Lordships’ House whether this fund is still planned and just how much money he expects to be in it by the end of this Parliament? If there is any money in this fund, what will it be used for?

Link to full speech

Baroness Royall of BlaisdonExtract of speech by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon
Labour

I live in the Forest of Dean, and am immensely proud that, despite the Government’s best efforts, the community has mobilised and we have a fracking-free area. We need a sustainable energy policy, which includes a ban on fracking, a practice which is harmful both for meeting our climate change obligations and for the environment.

I finish where I began. This country is deeply divided, and there is a growing sense of anxiety and frustration. No matter what the Minister might say, the measures contained in the gracious Speech will not enable our businesses and economy to reach the potential desperately needed at this critical time, and will not lead to the much-needed improvement in the lives of our fellow citizens. This Government are failing the country and failing its people, who deserve a more confident future, with hope for themselves and hope for their children.

Link to full speech

Baroness FeatherstoneExtract of speech by Baroness Featherstone
Lib Dem Lords Spokesperson on energy and climate change

What of energy and energy prices? If we really want to help to lower bills, a cap will not do it. Improving home insulation and encouraging local renewable energy schemes will, combined with an ambition for 30% of the household market to have their needs met by entrant competitors by 2022. Take that, big six. When we build all the houses that the Government are promising, energy saving should be a top priority. The Government very stupidly removed the zero-carbon homes measure, but that is what would slash bills, cut emissions and boost jobs. Government reliance on fracking is so wrong-headed that I need a whole debate on that one.

Link to full speech

Lord Truscott

Extract of speech by Lord Truscott, non-affiliated
Vice-chair of All Party Group on Shale Gas Regulation and Planning and former energy minister

Comparing the recent Tory manifesto to the gracious Speech, I am somewhat perplexed by Her Majesty’s Government’s invisible energy strategy. If this is what strong and stable government looks like, I can only be grateful that your Lordships’ House avoided a coalition of chaos. For example, media reports before the gracious Speech said that the Government had abandoned their commitment to UK shale gas development. I hope that the Minister—who is not in his place at the moment—can reassure or otherwise the House, at least until the next U-turn.

The Conservative manifesto stated that legislation would be introduced to permit non-fracking drilling as a permitted development; major shale planning decisions would be the responsibility of the national planning regime; there would be a new shale environmental regulator; and there would be changes to the proposed shale wealth fund. Now these are all apparently out of the window. Are Her Majesty’s Government still committed to shale in England, have they been won over by Labour’s argument that fracking should be banned, as it is in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, or do they simply believe they cannot get the legislation through Parliament?

Link to speech

32 replies »

    • Maybe the Government is waking up to the facts that surround shale gas. It is dirty, dangerous, and uneconomic. Common sense would tell you that there must be good reason why shale gas has been left in the ground till now. We have known about shale deposits in the UK for decades yet no big players have been interested.

      UK shale gas. Not needed, not wanted.

      • Sorry to upset you but there are plenty of pro frackers in the Labour party and now the Lib Dems as well. The Government is simply being too weak to push it through, the same can be said for any policy that upsets a handful of people hence why this country is about to burst once consumer spending runs out of steam which is starting to happen. And no, renewables will not fix the situation – sorry 🙂

      • Ignore Gottabekidding and people like them who write out of SELF INTEREST. I agree with you John Powney, as does anyone who merely needs to look at photos of land in the USA pottered with fracking/horizontal well drilling pads….
        WishI could post a Photo here Ruth….

  1. I think Lord Browne, chief pro fossil fuel agitator in the Lords, has moved on from Riverstone Holdings (major shareholder of Cuadrilla) to other interests. Perhaps he’s seen the light i.e. that fracking won’t fly in the UK.

    I wouldn’t raise hopes for that (fracking fed) sovereign wealth fund going anywhere either. The two baronesses raise the best points above.

    Looking forward to the report on Mike Hill’s meeting Ruth

  2. Don’t you worry your cotton socks there old boy, fracking is still well on the agenda. The HoL aren’t against it in general hence I was wondering why it seemed a tad biased.

    • In your dreams GBH. While the slow motion train crash that is the spectacle of the current Tory party will entertain and horrify in equal measure, the Left v Right stalemate is buying time for a new centre and some new sanity to emerge. As we know fracking and sanity cannot co-exist.

      • LOL you think the current Conservative leadership is ‘right’ ? May couldn’t be anymore centre if she tried and that is why we are all bored. With the rise in the communist (socialist) left that is Mr. Marxism and Comrade Corbyn you will see a rise in the right as a counter. I would be happy with a right of centre party as that promotes growth and capitalism. Do you understand what ‘socialism’ actually entails? I highly doubt it living in your little countryside haven! Can you give me an example of a country that you would like the UK to mimic ? I have lived in a few countries so I am interested to hear where the grass appears greener!

          • Absolutely not. I’m a mere capitalist that is a building block of this country. My taxes which are all paid in the UK and without any legal dodging allow for the antis to enjoy a lifestyle that they don’t need to work but have food on the table every day. I’ve done my bit for society. [Edited by moderator]

            • GottaBLacking Surely you can do better than resort to the same old, way past it’s use by date rhetoric that ‘antis’ don’t work?

              I’m sure John Ashton CBE would chuckle at the thought of you putting food on his table, as would the vast majority of people involved in my local group for example. People working in teaching, engineering, construction, IT, craftsmen, health workers and many running their own businesses who pay tax AND do their bit for society in their spare time. If you think putting your life on hold for the sake of others and future generations is enjoyable, please try it. I’ll happily give you a meal.

      • If we poured billions into researching alternative energy options, it would totally destroy these greedy drill mongers and spare our land from tree felling and pockmark holes which go under our homes.

  3. Fracking is uneconomic?

    Really.. I dont think the Americans would agree with you now they are almost self sufficient producing oil from onshore fracking.

    Think of all those nasty oil tankers that won’t be traveling around our oceans .The risk of a huge environmental disasters at sea and the death and destruction to wild life is dramatically reduced by home grown onshore oil production.

    • Rachel they like to convince themselves they are do gooders by purchasing sets of blinkers each time they visit Ascot.

    • I’m American and any American living near or affected by a horizontally drilled well will tell you that it is HELL ON EARTH.
      How much do you think chemical cleanup and structural damage to homes will cost eventually knowing that drilling companies don’t have to post bonds for 100 years??? http://tinyurl.com/y7lzt4hv

      • Cindy – please explain this phobia you have of horizontal wells. “Hell on Earth” wow! Check out Wytch Farm in Dorset. No one complains about living above “horizontally drilled wells” which have a far greater step out than your US wells? What is your problem?

      • Hi Cindy, they are trying to pull the wool over your eyes, i was born in that area and know it quite well. The Wytch Farm complex is at Arne Point near Wareham on the Purbecks on the headland into the bay, and all the horizontal bores travel out into the bay between Poole Bay and the Isle of Wight, where i used to sail with friends in my younger days. it used to be owned by BP, and is now, since 2011 owned by a company called Perenco, previously a North sea oil company. Wytch Farm, is near Wareham, an old Viking embankment surrounded port when the river was a mile wide, but now silted up to a small river.

        Nearby is one of the most expensive pieces of land in the world, the spit of land called Sandbanks where many celebrities and million/billionaires hang out, so perhaps oil and money co-exist in some mutually advantageous way.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/earthnews/10233955/The-town-where-a-form-of-fracking-is-already-happening.html

        Actually the process used is water injection also known as water flooding, not high pressure hydraulic fracking and the site is primarily an oil extraction site not a gas production site, but gas and oil go together, so there will be gas as well. When the pros claim it is therefore some sort of validation of fracking or even a paragon of oil extraction virtue, it is not so. There have indeed been accidents.

        None of the bores from Wytch Farm oil extraction complex travel inland, and the area is a nature reserve in a quite busy bay, i believe Poole Bay is the second largest natural harbour in the world.
        Being a busy bay, mostly private boats and some big ferries and Container ships, and oil tankers, that load and unload on the industrial side of Poole Quay, there is a fair amount of diesel and oil slicks, i’ve seen them myself.

        What this says is that if there is emissions and pollution, it can be blamed on the other uses of the bay. I know there have been accidents and spills, though i recall they were taken to be low levels and not inland or onshore.

        Worth a check anyway.

  4. I suspect when it comes to huge investment potential during the Brexit period Jim’s £billions may hold more sway than an upper chamber that has to watch it’s step. I am sure the DUP would not be adverse to seeing it slimmed down, and maybe they could end up with a vehicle factory!. Back to the future.

  5. Fracking is uneconomic, polluting, and contaminating. If you accounted for the health and environmental (and climate) impacts in the round you will find this is totally the case. The longer term exposures are being identified now and entering court proceedings – including cancers and birth defects. The legacy for future generations isn’t worth it – even for climate impacts alone.

  6. “Fracking is uneconomic” – if correct it won’t happen. So what is the point of wasting your time on this BB? What is the point of this BB? I suspect you don’t really believe what you write – if you did you would hopefully have better things to do with your life? The other issues you claim are irrelevant if it is uneconomic?

    • Strange logic Paul. Lots of ill-advised schemes and projects happen that are uneconomic because they are driven hard aggressive lobbying, hair-brained opportunists, laissez-faire capitalists and/or people who don’t give a damn about the downstream costs and impacts of what they’re doing. That is exactly why I’m here Paul. I’ll argue against the lazy industry blow-hards and racketeers who just want the public to go along with their skewed and misinformed opinions.

  7. How many rigs being mobilised in USA??

    I have worked for a number of American companies and I can assure you of one thing PhilipP-they do NOT have ANY confusion about industrial economics. If you wish to debate that, I’m sure Mr. Buffet would be very interested in your views (that was meant to be sarcastic.)

    Petrol price just dropped again at my local garage-somebody must be lobbying! You do your cause no favours by repeating such obviously incorrect “news”. It may excite a few people but it does nothing to convert the many. However, that is your choice. Continue by all means.

    • You miss my point about the bigger picture entirely. Estimates on impacts of sea level rise, primarily due to AGW, by 2050 stand at around 1 trillion dollars a year. Health impacts of legacies of decaying fracking infrastructure… who knows. Tell me the costs of decontaminating an aquifer Martin. Current extreme weather event in the States are pretty severe – heatwaves and crop failure in the West and flooding in the middle and south. And I wasn’t talking about petrol at all btw.

  8. When you start speculating about health impacts that are just that, why not speculate about the health impacts from manufacture of solar panels? Decontamination of an aquifer? How many have been contaminated in UK?

    Severe weather patterns in USA? Oh, come on! USA is a huge land mass and there have been severe weather patterns since records have been available. No-one is denying that global warming is happening, but it needs a measured and effective response not one based upon false information, speculation and fabrication. Climate change is such a huge “industry” now, spending $billions/year, there is no excuse for amateur, knee jerk reactions.

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