Fracking Week in Parliament
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.