Yorkshire peer fights for local voice on fracking

Fracking Week in Parliament

Baroness McIntosh 171102

Fracking is being imposed against the wishes of people in North Yorkshire, a Conservative peer said this afternoon.

Baroness Anne McIntosh, speaking in a debate at Westminster, said the county’s economy could be “imperilled” by fracking, expected imminently at Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton site.

The area’s former MP, said local people were concerned about their health, house values, disruptive lorry movements and the safety of water.

She said the technology of fracking had not been successfully tested in the UK and the level of self-regulation was inappropriate.

The Baroness urged the government to ensure that

  • Money raised from fracking would be used to repair damage caused
  • Any future fugitive emissions remained the responsibility of the present fracking company, not a future landowner


The rural economy of North Yorkshire is very fragile and depends largely on farming and tourism. North Yorkshire is probably the most beautiful county in the land, with a deeply rural economy dependent on farming, fisheries and tourism.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway, of which I have the honour to be president, is the biggest attraction, followed by Castle Howard and Flamingo Land, and with the natural beauty of the moors, vales, hills and dales and the magnificent coast, the vibrant yet fragile economy could so easily be imperilled by—dreaded word—fracking, over the wishes of local people, who fear for their health, the safety of the water and the value of their homes and are concerned about disruption from increased lorry movements bringing construction material to the sites and removing waste substances.

A number of countries have banned fracking. We have to ask why. Will the Government accept that while hydraulic fracturing may boost UK energy output in the short term, the technology has never been successfully tested in the UK and that the level of self-regulation is inappropriate given the potential long-term damage to the environment, people and property of North Yorkshire?

Britain prides itself on tough regulation of the offshore oil industry, yet accidents happen, as the Piper Alpha accident showed in July 1988, with 167 deaths from a catastrophic event—an exposition—and the resulting fire. The inquiry chaired by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cullen, made 106 recommendations for changes to North Sea oil procedures.

A particular concern about this nascent, unconventional fracking industry in the UK is how the flowback oil resulting from the process will be disposed of without allowing it to make its way into watercourses or the sea.

Can the Minister assure us that any money raised from fracking operations will be spent locally to make good any damage done and that any future fugitive emissions will remain the responsibility of the present fracking company, not any future landowner? There are alternative sources of energy which are equally unpopular but to which I subscribe, such as energy from waste and combined heat and power.

This Government were elected and given a democratic mandate on localism—letting local people have their say on major issues affecting them. Currently the North Yorkshire economy is vibrant, so why would anyone put that at risk? Will the voice of the local people of North Yorkshire be heard today? I hope so.

22 replies »

  1. This reminds me of companies that offer a graduate position but then decline applicants for not having any experience.
    She is a NIMBY in a cloak, how can we prove fracking is safe if you won’t let us show you?
    Well Anne it’s happening on a doorstep near you so suck it up and be a tad more British.

    • “Baroness Anne McIntosh urged the government to ensure that
      •Money raised from fracking would be used to repair damage caused
      •Any future fugitive emissions remained the responsibility of the present fracking company, not a future landowner”
      An interesting proposition?
      So in effect the Baroness proposes that revenue from fracking be used to clean up the damage caused by fracking?
      But there can be no cleanup can there? What ate we going to do? Excavate down 2 kilometers and remove all the toxic waste? Then track all the contaminated waste to where it has reached and excavate down to that and remove it?
      We are talking tens of millions, if not billions of cubic metres of contaminated toxic waste here, and that is just one site? How do we clean the CO2 and methane out of the atmosphere? How do we decontaminate the water or the land?
      What about the health costs of the people, the workers and the clean up crews, and everyone who came into contact with the toxic waste? The hospital bills will be astronomic?

      Better than have this insanely circular argument that the revenue be used to clean up the toxic results of fracking, is it not better to stop the cycle before it starts at all and ban fracking completely, thereby not wasting all that time and energy and health and money in the first place?
      We could be talking about centuries of clean up here?

      Well meaning I am sure Baroness, and i totally agree with the concerns of all this insane industry, but surely it is better to stop fracking whilst we still can? That is the only logical conclusion.
      No fracking and the whole problem just evaporates entirely and we can then start to build a sane truely renewable only energy secure future for all, not just profit for the few?

    • “This reminds me of companies that offer a graduate position but then decline applicants for not having any experience.”

      And which companies would those be Peeny? Perhaps you could give us an example with evidence?

  2. On the day when the governments own figures show yet another slump in support for fracking, this is a perfectly timed intervention: NIMBY is frankly a lazy criticism: the Baroness highlights evidence based criticisms of fracking. As someone who successfully opposed a housing application on planning grounds: there are many valid planning reasons to reject fracking: noise, air pollution, traffic, visual impact to name a few. All are waved away with “national policy” and “temporary impacts”. Multiplied to thousands of wells, thats not so temporary but years of disruption per site, a whole childhood or retirement. And that is without any “accidents” or water contamination, of which there is plenty of evidence in every country that has been fracked before. The water monitoring is quite frankly the opposite of rigorous. This industry stinks of corruption at the highest the level and the sooner it is shut down the sooner we residents can get our lives back and build up positive sustainable world to leave our children.

      • “Fracking is safe” for starters. Let’s call it ‘natural gas extraction from shale’ shall we … so you can’t hide behind the semantics of fracking only applying to that bit that happens 4000 odd feet beneath the surface.

  3. GBK as you never answer my question as to why other countries have banned this process, I would please like you to tell me why it is safe.

  4. Some of these (filmed) accounts are quite old but the story builds and you get the picture of how this industry deceives people. It is highly practiced at the art of lying and deception. You will recognise the lingo by now but the background to it all is interesting. It’s all interesting buthe soundtrack at the start is a bit annoying. If pressed for time and dive straight into 12mins30sec you will find some very clearly articulated and damning details. https://vimeo.com/60999259 .

  5. Well said Ian Conlan.

    Philip P – will try to make time to watch that soon, thanks.

    GBK still at it with his specious responses I see!

  6. I think the one decent point she makes is reference the usage of money raised from fracking (if it progresses) and what is done with it.

    Well, firstly as a Conservative Peer she should have some knowledge of taxation and how that is raised on company profits and personal taxation as staff are employed, and how that is used for expenditure on public services. None raised for the UK on gas produced outside the UK, and imported.

    Secondly, she should also recognise there are community funds supplied during the period of exploration and production. All I hear on this site is such should be rejected, but if it is an issue then it is quite easy to rectify. However, until production parameters are determined it is impossible to set out a defined system. There does seem to be the basis for Community Funding and an overall Wealth Fund, but values will obviously come later.

    Unfortunately, she seems to fall into the trap many do, and conflate what is currently a controlled test exploration and what could come later. She quotes that the technology has not been tested in the UK. That is what is planned currently. PNR for example would have to complete current tests and then apply for a production licence if tests justified that. The current system of controls are perfectly adequate for the scale of current operations, if applied correctly. Of course, if there is wider development expansion of those resources may be required, but her comments are a bit like saying that before an aeroplane flew in the UK we did not have a fully staffed air traffic control system, so better not to bother.

    • That is exactly what happened with flight martin, the initial flights were only dangerous to the pilot, the early planes were so slow that people could easily get out of the way, as soon as flight became dangerous to the public, flight plans had to be deposited and safe flight regulations were developed.
      Fracking was first developed in the American civil war and has had more than a century of trial and error, mostly error, including nuclear tests. Since then, now it is far more dangerous than flight will ever be, since the poisons are temporarily hidden until they emerge by whatever route into our water and air and land and endangers all our health.

      The oceans used to mans dumping ground and in many ways still is, now increasingly hard hitting regulations has moved operations to the land, cheaper but more obviously dangerous to anyone near. It is now the place for exploitation and that is all it is.

      So fracking has had a century of trial and error, now we demand hard enforceable regulations that bite hard into profits and operational capability.
      So it’s game over, this is serious accountability time and no amount of “get out of jail free” injunctions however confabulated and conflated will stop that process.
      Fracking has awakened a sleeping giant, even if we have to drag this poisonous industry kicking and screaming into the light of day for all to see what is being done in our name,
      it’s time to put up or ship out.
      or the shale will hit the fan so hard it will cover everyone.
      We said no.
      We mean no.
      Not now.
      Not ever.

  7. Please research what Fracking has done to the ecology and health of people in rural areas of the USA before you accuse Anne MacIntosh of being a NIMBY or indeed a NIMBI. IT IS NOT IN OUR INTEREST IF WE ARE NOT DIRECTLY EMPLOYED BY A FRACKING COMPANY. I have seen the reality in Pennsylvania for myself. A gorgeous place, scarred and polluted by fracking. Why have the French and Germans decided to ban fracking in their countries. If you think tht this gas is going to be used to keep the lights on at home and to keep the old warm you are a fool. It will be sold on the open market to the highest bidder (or not depening upon what trade agreements are in operation). As the USA is overproducing prices are low.

  8. You mean it would not replace the US gas that is entering the UK pipes now, Jayne? You know the stuff, that which keeps lights on and the old warm. Please explain why not. UK gas use will increase over the next decade or so and MAY then decline. Meanwhile, we huddle together, because we would not be buying from US over that period, would we? Can’t do that now, it is inappropriate touching.

    Please do your own research, but do not claim others, who disagree with you, have not done their own because they came to a different conclusion. I am not employed by a fracking company, and I suspect you are not employed by a wind turbine company, so no financial motives, just differences of opinion based upon research, but conclusions not the same.

    • Why do you say gas use will increase Martin?

      Government forecasting tells us “natural gas use is projected to fall by 24% between 2016 and 2035. Currently, the amount of natural gas used for electricity generation approximately equals that used for cooking and heating in households. However, the amount of gas used for electricity generation is projected to decrease by 70% whereas the amount used by households is projected to increase by around 17% over this period.”

      Click to access Updated_energy_and_emissions_projections_2016.pdf

      In the National Grid Future Energy Scenarios both Gone Green and Slow Progression scenarios show continuous reduction in gas demand through 2030 .


      What research have you done that contradicts this?

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