INEOS has commissioned the former Labour MP for North East Derbyshire, Natascha Engel, to a write a booklet on shale gas.
Ms Engel switched from opposition to support for shale gas despite plans by INEOS to drill in the village of Marsh Lane in her constituency. She correctly predicted to DrillOrDrop this could be electorally damaging.
She was narrowly defeated in the 2017 general election by the Conservative, Lee Rowley, who last week told MPs he had “complete and absolute opposition” to exploratory drilling in the constituency. DrillOrDrop reporte
A press statement from INEOS today said Ms Engel’s booklet would “better explain shale exploration and development” and would be “made available to the local community”.
“Most importantly it will try to try to explain the issue as part of the wider context about combating climate change, our energy needs, and the positive impact on jobs, training, industry and community benefits.”
Ms Engel is quoted:
“I saw first-hand what the impacts are on small communities when they hear about a shale gas application near them – even when it’s only for exploratory drilling.
“What people want is information. They want to know how it will affect them and they want reassurance that it is safe. I hope that this booklet will provide some of those certainties.
“Most of all I hope that this will allow INEOS to work constructively with communities so that local people gain the most in terms of the jobs and apprenticeships that this industry could bring – something I have campaigned on for most of my adult life.”
Marsh Lane plans
More than 88,000 people have signed a petition against fracking at Marsh Lane and there have been 5,000 objections to INEOS’s planning application for a vertical coring well (but not fracking).
When news of the application first emerged in January, Ms Engel told The Derbyshire Times:
“This is terrible news for the people of Marsh Lane and Eckington. Many residents have contacted me concerned for their safety and the security of their houses. I will be meeting INEOS and the county council to see how we can get a safety zone around areas where people live.”
Her constituency office in Eckington had an anti-fracking poster.
But by the time of the election she had changed her mind. She wrote on her website (no longer accessible):
“I am not against fracking as long as the industry stays highly regulated and controlled. If taking shale out of the ground in the UK means that we have fewer greenhouse gas emissions, that we can control our own energy and get prices down because we are not importing it, if it creates a whole new industry with good jobs, if it is good for Derbyshire, then I support it.”
Powerbase reports that Ms Engel voted to make fracking companies apply for an environmental permit for conducting exploratory drilling (January 2015) but she was absent for a vote on a fracking moratorium. She voted against requiring more pre-conditions for where fracking could take place (February 2015) but she was absent for a vote on loosening conditions for when fracking took place in protected areas and national parks (December 2015).
Tom Pickering, Operations Director at INEOS Shale said:
“Natascha will give us a better insight into the needs and concerns of residents. As a former Labour MP and trade unionist, Natascha has always made the case for good jobs, as well as health and safety. At the same time, Natascha is well placed to give us a full understanding of local issues and help us to continue to be an open and inclusive organisation.”
ON 24 November 2017, INEOS said it was lodging an appeal against non-determination of the Marsh Lane application and another at Harthill in Rotherham borough. The company said no decision had been made by the local councils “in reasonable time periods”. DrillOrDrop report
An INEOS spokesperson said the appeal was submitted that day. Earlier this week, INEOS’s agent posted notices about the appeal at the proposed site in Marsh Lane. People are advised to contact the Planning Inspectorate.
But the Planning Inspectorate told DrillOrDrop today that it had not received the appeal for Marsh Lane or Harthill. We have asked INEOS for clarification.