Politics

Government sidesteps call for “urgent” debate on fracking and climate change

Fracking Week in Parliament 13-17 November 2017.

171115 KM Eddie Thornton

Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton site ready for fracking, 15 November 2017. Photo: Eddie Thornton

The Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, has called for an urgent debate on the compatibility of fracking with UK climate objectives.

carolinelucasIn a parliamentary question, Dr Lucas said the government was believed to be about to approve the first high volume hydraulic fracture onshore in the UK onshore for six years. A decision on fracking at Third Energy’s site at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire is expected any day.

She asked the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadson:

“Can we have an urgent debate on how that is compatible with our climate change objectives, given that the Committee on Climate Change has said that three key tests have to be met? The Government have not met them, yet we believe the decision in Ryedale is imminent.”

Andrea LeadsomMrs Leadsom said shale gas was needed for UK energy security.

“We will need continued access to gas for many years to come as we move to a renewable, zero-carbon-electricity future, but that it is not possible to do that overnight.”

Also this week, Labour’s Justin Madders (left) asked how the government planned to change planning law so that fracking decisions were taken out of local authority control. Mr Madders is MP for Ellesmere Port, where IGas is proposing to test an existing shale gas well.

The Communities Minister, Alok Sharma, (above right) said the government would announce its “preferred way forward in due course”.

In the House of Lords, Lord Hunt of Chesterton (above left) asked what steps was the government taking to inform people about the risks of fracking. The Energy Minister, Lord Henley, (above right) said “early engagement” with communities was vital and public confidence was important to the shale industry’s success.


Transcripts

Question by Lord Hunt of Chesterton, Labour

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Neville-Rolfe on 8 November 2016 stating that the re-injection of waste and produced waters will not be permitted from shale gas wells in the UK, what steps they are taking to inform the public about the possible risks associated with fracking, including those related to water injection.

Reply by Lord Henley, Energy Minister

The Government has been clear that shale development must be safe and environmentally sound.

The Government believes that early engagement is vital with communities who may host shale gas developments and we acknowledge that public confidence in the process is important to the success of the industry. We are continuously working with the regulators to ensure that the public understand how our regulatory regime works, and with the industry to encourage effective engagement which addresses local communities’ concerns. Link to transcript 13 November 2017


Question by Justin Madders Shadow Health Minister (Health), Labour, Ellesmere Port

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 2 November 2017 to Question 109056, on Fracking: planning permission, whether he intends to make those changes to planning law through the use of primary or secondary legislation; and when he intends to bring forward that legislation.

Reply by Alok Sharma, Communities and Local Government Minister, Conservative, Reading West

The Government is considering how it will bring major shale planning decisions under the National Planning Regime and will announce our preferred way forward in due course. Link to transcript 15 November 2017


Question by Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

We believe that the Government are about to give the green light to the first UK fracking in six years, in North Yorkshire. Can we have an urgent debate on how that is compatible with our climate change objectives, given that the Committee on Climate Change has said that three key tests have to be met? The Government have not met them, yet we believe the decision in Ryedale is imminent.

Reply by Andrea Leadsom Leader of the House, Conservative, South Northamptonshire

The hon. Lady and I have discussed this very issue on a number of occasions, and she is well aware that for the UK’s energy security we will need continued access to gas for many years to come as we move to a renewable, zero-carbon-electricity future, but that it is not possible to do that overnight. Fracking is one industry that represents a huge opportunity for the UK, and our regulatory environment for it is the safest in the world. Link to transcript 16 November 2017


Question by Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make a comparative assessment of the tax treatment of (a) Good Quality gas CHP, (b) shale gas, (c) North Sea Oil, (d) coal, (e) gas for heating and power production and (f) renewable energy; and if he will make a statement.

Reply awaited Link to transcript 17 November 2017


Thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com for the transcripts

20 replies »

  1. Reply to Lord Henley, Energy Minister

    ‘The Government believes that early engagement is vital with communities who may host shale gas developments and we acknowledge that public confidence in the process is important to the success of the industry. ‘

    Engagement was far from early. People have found out the truth for themselves. We have NO confidence in the industry.

    ‘We are continuously working with the regulators to ensure that the public understand how our regulatory regime works’

    We know how it works and they are not fit for purpose,

    ‘and with the industry to encourage effective engagement which addresses local communities’ concerns’

    You cannot address our concerns. It’s impossible.

    ‘The Government has been clear that shale development must be safe and environmentally sound.’

    Call a moratorium, Scotland said no, Wales say no, we must have our say.

    • Well said Sherwulfe, you say exactly what I thought reading the report.

      It is too late for such weak and unspecified government avoidance reassurances. That should have been done years ago.

      The operators have shown nothing but ignorance or worse, contempt of the practically toothless regulations even before a cubic metre of oil or gas is produced.

      The police have been criminally co opted into exclusively protecting private corporations who are allowed to operate without constraint or obeying those practically non existent toothless regulations or planning conditions whilst simultaneously exclusively concentrating on victimising any and all legal public protest.

      Councils have been left to carry the can with a crippled EA rubber stamping anything and everything the industry dumps in their in tray.

      Nothing has been done by this government or the industry to fully inform and consult anyone outside of private secretive lobbyist locked doors.

      “Shale development” #fracking# has been demonstrated accross the world to be unsafe and not in the least bit environmentally sound.

      If this government attempts to take the o€$¥£g operations out of the hands of councils and public consultation, that cannot bode well for what little remains of publically unaccountable democracy in this country.

      Without a demonstrably publically accountable democracy, what next martial law?

      • A little poem for tomorrow,
        I hope you all have a relaxing Sun-Day with friends and or family.

        The sun shines bright tonight
        It always shines, it’s always light
        But here dark in shadows dwell
        The earth rotates
        Learn this lesson well
        The wind blows somewhere strong
        But here its calm, it won’t be long
        Before wind waves trees
        And blows the leaves
        The Earth is hot beneath our feet
        But far below, up here it’s sweet
        More lessons see
        For you and me
        That everywhere, energy is free
        The sun provides
        When even shadow hides
        It does so now
        We question how
        To use that free
        For you and me
        To solve that sum
        And not be dumb
        To mine carboniferous
        Our children will not forgive us
        There lives will be short run
        Roulettes Russian loaded gun
        Each trigger pulled
        More lives are dulled
        To clear the air
        Clean water care
        We must solve the riddle
        Or while Rome burns fiddle
        We owe that much
        Young lives to clutch
        But time is short
        Too late with fate to sport
        To solve those riddles now
        Only peace will enable how
        We must work as one
        All under our one sun
        Not shun it’s light
        Or with ourselves to fight
        To evolve is now
        And that is how
        We will greet the sun
        With joy and fun
        Our children play
        In light of day
        Not fright of night
        We know what’s right
        So to do so now
        Our sun will show us how

        Phil C

  2. Better to cut their losses and call it a day now. Even if gas and profits flowed from all this the communities are on a hiding to nothing. Despite local pollution, environmental impacts and the ghg emissions, offering just 10% of downstream tax revenue is rather pathetic. In the USA where land owners hold mineral rights they’re negotiating for royalties of between 15% and 25% of gas sales. That’s ‘off the top’ i.e. before other expenditures. With the higher population here, the intrusion (narrow roads etc) and the risks involved, the terms should be at least that generous. No wonder the investment hustlers are hovering impatiently.

    • Scotland’s economic report on shale casts a gloomy picture on the value of the industry.

      Caroline Lucas has asked a very important question regarding taxation.

      This Government decided in 2011 to start the decline of the North sea by introducing a hefty tax regime which saw job loses and a decline in much needed investment.

      It will be interesting to see the detail on taxation.

      If shale is offered favourable taxation rates over the North sea this Government will have a lot of explaining to do and I am sure the offshore industry will have a lot to say.

  3. Just as with Universal Credit, this government is incapable of digesting the evidence presented to it that the course of action upon which it has embarked does not have the confidence or the support of the people.As for Andrea Leadsom’s “our regulatory environment for it is the safest in the world”, she should be aware that the bar is not set high and that those other countries where fracking has proved an environmental disaster have all shared her belief in the superiority of their regulatory provisions. For heaven’s sake, get out now and invest in the planet not in those who seek to enrich themselves whilst despoiling and destroying that which has nurtured them, the same planet and its peoples.

  4. And their own Governmental report made it clear that Shale Gas was not needed for energy security, does Leadsom not read their own reports, obviously not!

  5. mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-18/plant-respiration-co2-findings-anu-canberra/9163858

    Maybe they have read these report before the Green.

  6. Quite positive that the government acknowledges it is evaluating how shale planning decisions should be brought into the National Planning Regime. Making well drill pads Nationally Significant Infrastructure is exactly what the UK needs. This cannot be good news for Drill or Drop or the anti-frack movement.

    • It’s interesting that David Cameron et al made the mistake that the people of the UK would vote to remain in Europe. Whilst this is another debate it proves that the present party are not in touch with the majority of the country. The result of this was he and his pal ‘did a runner’ instead of facing the challenge currently posed.May is continuing this arrogant stance.

      Making well drill pads Nationally Significant Infrastructure is exactly NOT what the UK needs. What we need is a moratorium in England to sort this out once and for all. Scotland said no, Ireland said no, Wales say no. It is ridiculous that in the 21st century we are still fighting off the ‘Roman’ invasion.

  7. The answers above (or should I say the obfuscation and avoidance above) explain why I am anti fracking – quite apart from it being completely incompatible with our climate change commitments. Almost five years ago, keeping a completely open mind and sitting squarely on the fence, I started looking into the verifiable evidence about fracking and asking a lot of questions. A year later, most of my questions were either unanswered, or answered with weasel words, obfuscation and half truths (see above). At that point, I decided I had little option other than to be anti fracking until satisfactory responses were forthcoming. I’ve barely missed a meeting, talk, information event, regulators drop in session, industry PR event etc etc and I’m still waiting (see above). I also pointed out way back then to my MP Anne McIntosh that successful fracking would depend on absolute honesty and openness from govt and industry in order to gain the trust and acceptance of the populace. I obviously never expected that to happen and I’m still waiting without holding my breath. Lord Henley says above, quote ‘The Government believes that early engagement is vital with communities who may host shale gas developments and we acknowledge that public confidence in the process is important to the success of the industry.’ Yes indeed, but is that engagement ever open and honest? Not in my experience. It’s always about PR, spin and industry facilitation. Only a handful of independent academics have ever tried to honestly present the risks and damaging effects of fracking, while benefits have been cherry picked and wildly exaggerated (yes, the usuals: price, energy security, bridge to renewables, replacement for coal etc). The regulation has been much vaunted, just like in every other fracked country, with little or no regard to baselines – until forced -, policing and enforcement.
    Whenever you’ve bought a house, did you do so after only listening to the sales pitch of the estate agent? Or did you engage the services of a legal expert to ensure all contracts etc were in order; an expert in house building, condition, maintenance etc in the form of a surveyor to confirm your purchase was in satisfactory condition; obtain local searches to confirm there were no major risks to your investment? Why then would you accept fracking based on the sales pitch and PR spin of the O&G industry and complicit govt salesmen?
    Talking of house buying, my current MP and director of Hunters estate agents, Kevin Hollinrake, repeatedly claims house prices will not be affected by fracking, yet a recent YouGov survey said 55% of Conservative voters (and 64% in total) would be unhappy about living near a fracking site. The simple law I recall from A level economics about supply and demand says that such a major drop in demand would result in a significant drop in house values. It really is that simple.
    Test fracks are imminent and if successful, the industry will be poised to move to a pleasant rural location near you. Do your own research from verifiable sources.

    • Funny isn’t it, Mike, that the nation that has made the largest financial commitment to renewables (Germany) has made no progress toward climate change goals and today emits virtually as much co2 as it did when it started deploying renewable generating capacity. The country that has embraced fracking more than any other (the US) has made a much larger reduction in CO2 emissions than any other industrialized nation as natural gas has replaced coal. Perhaps massive government involvement is not the best way forward, but allowing the free markets to find solutions works better? Let’s see what happens to Germany – the country has been able to hide some of the massive costs it has underwritten in pursuit of the “Green Dream” by leaning hard on cheap coal. The day of reckoning approaches, however, and it is quite literally tearing the government apart as they come to terms with the fact that co2 emissions haven’t budged while massive investments have been made in unpredictable and intermittent sources of power. Electricity is already very expensive in Germany, but if they are now to make progress toward climate change goals (and we all know they will never achieve those goals) they must reduce coal usage. I hope that they do, as it will shine a light on the inefficient deployment of capital in the country as prices continue to skyrocket and investment flees. But my guess is that the practical Germans win-out and demand that economics be taken into consideration.

      Meanwhile, as the leading fracker in the world, the US will allow free markets to continue to reduce GHG emissions and will deploy renewables when they make sense.

      • Geez EKT don’t you read? How many times do we need to go around this loop? Germany has made massive progress in renewables. But due to the earlier (than planned) closure of nuclear capacity it has leveled out the divestment from coal power – delayed it at least – and with neighboring countries like France shutting down some of its nuclear plant also, and buying baseload from Germany, that has further delayed the downward trend in coal power. Nuclear is obviously lower carbon than coal (near zero in fact) so this has obviously upset the equation. Fukoshima has been a massive upset for the nuclear industry generally – raising alarm bells about safety andrelated investment issues all around the world.

        So, here you go again (predictably) not even mentioning the advantages of renewables for Germany and the obvious gains they have made when you factor out the nuclear dogleg in the plans. Imagine where they would be without that green success offsetting the FF dependency, they may almost be as bad as the USA whose CO2 emissions per person is far worse than Germany’s!. Give the propaganda a rest.

      • ‘renewables when they make sense’

        Uk government figures show renewable energy production on the up. Best sited Onshore wind producing the cheapest energy and offshore wind prices plummeting. Plenty of solar about.

        https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/647344/Regional_renewable_electricity_2016.pdf

        Carbon capture has excessive costs and has had UK funding reduced. Battery storage projects up and running nicely and project sizes increasing.

        90% of Germans agree with their renewables programme so it will continue. They are choosing to miss out the gas ‘middle man’ and move from coal to maximised renewables.

        California on it’s way to 100% renewables

        https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2017/08/01/california-goes-all-in-100-percent-renewable-energy-by-2045/

        All common sense yet some cannot see it for some reason.

        • ‘All common sense yet some cannot see it for some reason.’
          There is a reason.

          An analogy:
          If you invest in potatoes and then a nutritionist says potatoes are bad for you, eat carrots instead, the price of potatoes drops, so if you are not in the ‘know’ you will not have ditched the ‘worthless assets in time’. So instead you are in denial. Rather than cut your losses and invest what you can in carrots which are a safe but slow realization bet, you cry’ potatoes are good for you, I’ve been eating them all my life, they haven’t affected me personally (only my mum and dad who died prematurely, oh and my friends, and my neighbours, and the farmer from toxic chemicals….); if we don’t eat potatoes we will die!

          In comes the predators, who knew the potatoes were being dumped who play with the shares and hype the hype; the investor loses more money and feels embarrassed and dis-empowered, so they begin to believe their own empty rhetoric.

          Sound familiar?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.