Fracking Week in Parliament: 3-7 July 2017

BigBen2In this week’s Fracking Week in Parliament, new Derbyshire MP backs local opposition to INEOS shale drilling plans and ministers are quizzed on risks to groundwater, liability of shale gas companies, staffing of regulators and the government’s shale gas team and the Government’s assessment of the Medact report.

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 and Parliament.co.uk for the transcripts.

5 July 2017

Greg Knight

Question by Greg Knight
Conservative, East Yorkshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that future maintenance liabilities for abandoned or exhausted shale gas wells remain the responsibility of the operator of that well.

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

Each licensee (and there may be more than one for each licence) is responsible for the well. When operations finish, the licensees are responsible for safe decommissioning of the well(s) and for restoring the well-site to its previous state or a suitable condition for re-use.

The central aim of the regulatory framework is to ensure wells are made safe so that they can be decommissioned with no need for on-going attention. The Health and Safety Executive scrutinises the plans for the well at the outset, including the plans for decommissioning and the operator reports to them during the decommissioning process.

Link to question and reply

Question by Greg Knight

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what maintenance and inspection procedures he plans to put in place to protect underground water supplies from damage as a result of shale gas extraction.

Reply by Richard Harrington

Under section 50 of the Infrastructure Act 2015, hydraulic fracture consent will not be issued unless the my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State is satisfied thirteen conditions are met. This includes an assessment of environmental impacts, independent well inspections, and groundwater monitoring.

Under the Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing (Protected Areas) Regulations 2016, hydraulic fracturing is prohibited in “protected groundwater source areas” (SPZ1s), which are areas close to drinking water sources where there is the greatest risk associated with groundwater contamination.

The environmental regulator (the Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, or Natural Resources Wales) has the power to require baseline monitoring of those environmental indicators it considers appropriate and for the lengths of time that it deems suitable for each given site. This may include monitoring of soil, air, surface water and groundwater for a range of pollutants. The regulator assesses this based on the characteristics of each site, applying the regulator’s own expert judgment rather than adopting a blanket approach.

The environmental regulator will not permit the use of hazardous substances, as defined by the Water Framework Directive and the Groundwater Directive, for any activity including hydraulic fracturing where these substances might enter groundwater and cause pollution.

Link to question and reply

Question by Greg Knight

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive are adequately resourced to monitor permitted shale gas operations.

Reply by Richard Harrington

The Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency have sufficient specialist inspectors to deliver the regulatory regime they are responsible for. The resources required will be kept under review.

Link to question and reply

4 July 2017

Barry Sheerman MPQuestion by Barry Sheerman
Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he has made of the findings of the Medact report, A public health assessment of shale gas in England, published in July 2016.

Steve brine mpReply by Steve Brine
Conservative, Winchester, health minister

Public Health England (PHE) reviews the evidence base on the health impacts of chemical and radiological emissions associated with shale gas extraction as it emerges, considering the available evidence as a whole.

The 2016 MEDACT report is one of a large number of publications PHE is currently considering.

Link to question and reply

3 July 2017

Jim CunninghamQuestion by Jim Cunningham
Labour, Coventry South

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many civil servants work full-time in the shale gas team in his Department; and if he will make a statement.

Reply by Richard Harrington

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Link to question and reply

Lee Rowley mpExtract of maiden speech by Lee Rowley
Conservative, North East Derbyshire

Beautiful as my constituency is, and honoured as I am to be the winner of the competition that I have spoken about, my constituency also suffers from unique challenges and problems. We currently have the issue of inappropriate housing developments in the beautiful valleys that I have talked about, because the local council did not put in place the plans that it should have done years ago to avoid that. We have a fracking proposal in the beautiful Moss valley, which my constituents neither want nor wish to see happen, and I will support them in their opposition for as long as it is on the table.

Link to full speech

4 replies »

  1. I remember I used to visit Derbyshire in relation to business. Whilst the area seemed nice enough to look at it was evident there is a lack of work and investment in the area. It’s a bit of an oap haven. Unfortunately for these types the world’s population is expanding and I’m sure the psychological profiles of the likes of Phil C will welcome any jobs no matter how few to the area! Cough cough!
    If the Conservatives are seen as being weak as is the case with the above two then they will lose the next election hands down as their core vote will just not be bothered to show up as was prevalent at the last one.
    This country is going to nose dive after leaving the EU if the likes of Phil C have any input on a large scale.
    The UK is a cold damp little island with no high volume of manufacturing, a service sector that constantly has to reduce costs to compete. The only thing that’s propped it up is consumer spending and the after effects of QE. Both of which are about to fade into a distant memory.
    Once business sees the country has shifted to the left its game over. The antis and left wing types don’t understand business nor are streetwise on a world stage.
    I appreciate the lefties on here don’t listen nor trust things they don’t understand so I’m simply writing this so in 10 years I can say…. I told you so.

    • Good tarmac there? Perhaps take more bitumen with it next time? Try a little asphalt for a more balance diet?
      If you take a core of shale in your world of the bizarre, you will find Phil C written right through it!

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