Politics

Ministers questioned over Kirby Misperton fracking plans

171210 KM Eddie Thornton

Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton site waiting for a decision on fracking, 10 December 2017. Photo: Eddie Thornton

Fracking Week in Parliament

MPs have questioned ministers in three departments over plans for fracking at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire.

Third Energy, the company behind the plans, said in early November it was ready to frack the KM8 well. It has since been waiting for final approval from the Business Secretary, Greg Clark.

A loophole in the Infrastructure Act, which would have allowed the KM8 well to avoid the need for Mr Clark’s final consent, appears to have delayed the decision. (See DrillOrDrop report).

Since the loophole emerged, MPs have put nine questions to ministers on the criteria for the decision, the timetable, ministerial correspondence with Third Energy and regulation of the site.

 

Caroline Lucas, Green, Brighton Pavilion, asked whether Mr Clark had received a certificate from the Health and Safety Executive required under the Petroleum Act and whether consent would be granted without it.The Energy Minister, Richard Harrington replied:

“Where an application for hydraulic fracturing consent is made, the Department requires that appropriate arrangements have been made for the independent inspection of the integrity of the relevant well as set out in condition 2 of section 4A of the Petroleum Act 1998.”

Dr Lucas also called for the decision on fracking at KM8 be delayed until an investigation had been carried out into chemicals used at KM3, another well at Kirby Misperton.

The Environment Minister, Therese Coffey (top left), said:

“Any concerns regarding the chemicals used in the KM3 well should be directed to the Environment Agency.”

 

Rachael Maskell, Labour, York Central, (bottom left) asked about what assessment had been made “of the adequacy of the KM8 pipeline to transport shale gas safely from the KM8 well.”

The Pensions Minister, Sarah Newton, (above right) replied:

“The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has inspected the pipeline and is content that the gas from the KM8 well can be safely conveyed within the pipeline, under the current risk management systems employed by Third Energy.”

Shale gas planning in the East Midlands

Sir Kevin BarronLabour’s Kevin Barron (Rother Valley) raised the decision by INEOS Shale to ask for applications for shale gas exploration to be decided by the planning inspectorate. He asked the local government minister, Jake Berry, to condemn this move. Mr Berry would not comment on a live planning issue.

Sir Kevin also asked for a parliamentary debate on the issue. He said:

“I would like to ask that Secretary of State how that fits with the Tory manifesto he has just fought on, which promised to “maintain public confidence” in the shale gas industry and ‘uphold our rigorous environmental protections’?”

Andrea LeadsomThe Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, replied that shale gas regulations were “very strong”. She said:

“It is right that the UK economy takes the opportunity to benefit from the transition from high carbon emitting coal, through lower carbon emitting gas, to the renewables future we all want to see.”

Protest policing in Yorkshire and Lancashire

Dr Lucas called for an external review of whether the Lancashire Police operation at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool had upheld legally-protected rights. The Home Office minister, Nick Hurd, said police tactics were a matter for chief officers.

In response to a question by Labour’s Louise Haigh (Sheffield Heeley), Mr Hurd, confirmed that Lancashire had applied for special grant funding for the cost of policing anti-fracking protests. North Yorkshire had also talked to officials about an application but had not yet submitted, he said.

Transcripts

Kirby Misperton

Question by Alan Whitehead, Labour, Southampton Test, Shadow Energy Minister

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what criteria his Department will use to determine a decision on consent for hydraulic fracturing at the Kirby Misperton site; and if he will make a statement.

Reply by Richard Harrington, Conservative, Watford, Energy Minister

The Department will determine Third Energy’s application for hydraulic fracturing at its Kirby Misperton site using the same criteria set out under Section 4A of the Petroleum Act 1998 (inserted by Section 50 of the Infrastructure Act 2015).

The Department is carefully considering the evidence submitted and will respond appropriately in due course.

Link to question 6 December 2017

Questions by Caroline Lucas, Green, Brighton Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 23 November 2017 to Question 113658, and relating to Third Energy’s KM8 well in Ryedale, whether he has received from the Health and Safety Executive a certificate in accordance with section 4A of the Petroleum Act 1998 that it has received the information required by Regulation 19 of the Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and Construction) Regulations in respect of the KM8 well.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 23 November 2017 to Question 113658, if he will make it his policy not to grant hydraulic fracturing consent for Third Energy’s wellsite in Ryedale, North Yorkshire, without having received a certificate from the Health and Safety Executive that all of the requirements in condition 2 of section 4A of the Petroleum Act 1998 have been met.

Reply by Richard Harrington

Where an application for hydraulic fracturing consent is made, the Department requires that appropriate arrangements have been made for the independent inspection of the integrity of the relevant well as set out in condition 2 of section 4A of the Petroleum Act 1998.

In situations where hydraulic fracturing operations commence, the Health and Safety Executive will scrutinise the weekly operations reports produced by the well-operator in accordance with Regulation 19 of the Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and Construction, etc) Regulations 1996, to ensure that the health and safety risks are managed appropriately.

On Wednesday 29 November, my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State issued a Direction to the Oil and Gas Authority which will impact on the existing application submitted by Third Energy and certain other applications by operators seeking to carry out hydraulic fracturing in future. I would refer the hon Member to the Written Ministerial Statement that accompanies that direction which provides further details.

Link to question 4 December 2017

Questions by Caroline Lucas

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether, as part of consideration of the application by Third Energy for hydraulic fracturing consent for the KM8 wellsite in Ryedale, North Yorkshire, he assessed the volume of (a) Glycol, (b) Methanol, (c) corrosion inhibitor and (d) bleach used at the KM3 well at Ryedale in each year of that well’s operational life; and if he will make a statement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether, as part of consideration of the application by Third Energy for hydraulic fracturing consent for the KM8 wellsite in Ryedale, North Yorkshire, he assessed the procedure for cleaning the lines and taking the odour out of the gas over the lifetime of the KM3 well at Ryedale; and if he will make a statement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the KM3 well at Ryedale, North Yorkshire, if he will conduct an urgent investigation into (a) the type and volume of chemicals which have been put down that well and (b) whether fractures have been caused by those chemicals; and if he will suspend any decision on fracking at KM8 Ryedale until the completion of that investigation.

Reply by Therese Coffey, Conservative, Suffolk Coastal, Environment Minister

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is carefully considering the application submitted by Third Energy for the Kirby Misperton well-site (KM8) and will respond in due course.

Any concerns regarding the chemicals used in the KM3 well should be directed to the Environment Agency.

Link to questions 4 December 2017

Questions by Rachael Maskell, Labour, York Central, Shadow Transport Minister

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the timetable is for a decision to be made on hydraulic fracturing consent under s.4A of the Petroleum Act 1998 for Third Energy’s KM8 well in Ryedale; and if he will make a statement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what correspondence the Department has received from Third Energy on the timetable for a decision on hydraulic fracturing consent under s. 4A of the Petroleum Act 1998 for that company’s KM8 well in Ryedale; and if he will make a statement.

Replies by Richard Harrington

There is no set timeframe for decision-taking. The Department is carefully considering the application submitted for Third Energy’s KM8 well in Ryedale and will respond appropriately in due course.

Yesterday, my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State issued a Direction to the Oil and Gas Authority which will impact on the existing application submitted by Third Energy and certain other applications by operators seeking to carry out hydraulic fracturing in future. I would refer the hon Member to the Written Ministerial Statement that accompanies that direction which provides further details. This can be seen here.

The Department is in regular contact with the shale gas industry, including with Third Energy, on a range of policy matters.

The Department is carefully considering the application submitted for Third Energy’s KM8 well in Ryedale and will respond appropriately in due course. There is no set timeframe for decision-taking.

Links to questions here and here 30 November

Question by Rachael Maskell

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the KM8 pipeline to transport shale gas safely from the KM8 well, if he will publish the evidence on which that assessment has been made; and if he will make a statement.

Reply by Sarah Newton, Conservative, Pensions Minister

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has inspected the pipeline and is content that the gas from the KM8 well can be safely conveyed within the pipeline, under the current risk management systems employed by Third Energy. If there is any breach of the health and safety regulations resulting in formal enforcement action, HSE will make this public.

Link to question 30 November 2017

INEOS applications for shale gas exploration

Question by Kevin Barron, Labour, Rother Valley, Chair of the Committee on Standards

In the North East Derbyshire constituency and my own, the INEOS shale gas fracking company has applied for its planning application to be determined by the national Planning Inspectorate, not the local authority. Does the Minister condemn that?

Reply by Jake Berry, Conservative, Rossendale, Local Government Minister

I cannot comment on a live planning issue.

Link to question 4 December 2017

Question by Kevin Barron

May we have an urgent debate on shale gas fracking planning applications? In my constituency, INEOS, a multinational petrochemical company, has applied to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to avoid local democracy by taking planning decisions out of the local council’s hands and giving it to the national Planning Inspectorate. I would like to ask that Secretary of State how that fits with the Tory manifesto he has just fought on, which promised to “maintain public confidence” in the shale gas industry and “ uphold our rigorous environmental protections”?

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

The right hon. Gentleman might wish to raise that specific question in DCLG oral questions on 4 December. As he will know, however, the subject of shale gas exploration has received a huge amount of attention in this place and the regulations are very strong. It is right that the UK economy takes the opportunity to benefit from the transition from high carbon emitting coal, through lower carbon emitting gas, to the renewables future we all want to see.

Link to question 30 November 2017

Policing

Question by Louise Haigh, Labour, Sheffield Heeley, Shadow Policing Minister

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what representations she has received from police forces on the costs of policing fracking sites.

Reply by Nick Hurd, Conservative, Ruislip, Home Office Minister

The Lancashire PCC has submitted an application for Special Grant funding for the costs of policing the anti-fracking protests in Lancashire; this is currently being reviewed.

The North Yorkshire PCC has also approached Home Office officials for information on how to apply for Special Grant funding; an application has not yet been received.

Link to question 6 December 2017

Question by Caroline Lucas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will commission an independent external review into whether the Lancashire Police operation at the Cuadrilla site near Blackpool since January 2017 has upheld legally protected fundamental rights.

Reply by Nick Hurd

The police have statutory and common law powers and duties in relation to public order policing which must be used in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The police have a responsibility to facilitate peaceful protest and provide a lawful and proportionate policing response. This should balance the needs and rights of protesters with those affected by the protest, whilst ensuring they preserve the peace, uphold the law and prevent the commission of offences. Police tactics and decisions on how to achieve these objectives are a matter for the independent operational judgement of chief officers of police.

Link to question 23 November 2017

1 reply »

  1. Thanks Ruth and Drill Or Drop, a very detailed report, I have read this three times now, and although the questions are fascinating and demanding, I keep falling asleep at the dull mind numbing avoidance and prevarication of the governments replies, I would not favour those replies with the term “answers” since that would imply that the question was actually addressed, and they are not except by vague reference?

    What I think saddens and concerns me most is that it would appear, before I fall asleep or suddenly have an irrepressible urge to hibernate, is that this government still, at this late stage, are “considering” such matters, organising a “review” or are refering to, as yet invisible and unspecified “strong regulations” …….

    Sorry I fell asleep again there…….oh! What was I saying? I think I have just lost the will to live?
    How anyone can remain sentient and conscious in parliament without stimulants with this somnambulistic pedestrian bunch in government without the desperate urge to commit public political seppuku a la Boris, is a minor miracle?

    I think I will try to read the replies again?……………….. ……………… ………….. ………………zzzzzzzzz

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