N Yorks MP and oil and gas expert to debate whether UK regulation can make fracking safe

180118 KM Eddie Thornton 2

Third Energy’s KM8 fracking site, 18 January 2018. Photo: Eddie thornton

The Conservative MP, Kevin Hollinrake, and chartered oil and gas engineer, Mike Hill, will take opposite sides in a debate about fracking in North Yorkshire next month.

Mr Hollinrake, whose Thirsk and Malton constituency includes the fracking site at Kirby Misperton, will argue that UK regulation can make hydraulic fracturing safe. Mr Hill, who has worked in the industry for 25 years, will make the case against.

The event, in Pickering on Thursday 8 March, has been organised by Kirkbymoorside Town Council and aims to inform councillors and citizens about fracking.

It will be chaired by the retired bishop, the Right Reverend James Jones. He was formerly Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Hull. He chaired the Hillsborough Panel supervising disclosure of documents relating to the football stadium disaster and examined the proposed sale of UK state-owned forests.

Since December 2014, Kirkbymoorside Town Council has opposed fracking activities locally until, it said, there were satisfactory answers to its serious concerns.

Fracking has been expected in Ryedale since November 2017, when Third Energy said it was ready to carry out the operation at its KM8 well in Kirby Misperton. Yesterday, the company confirmed there could be “a further period” before the final decision was made by the government (DrillOrDrop report). This follows the announcement that the Business Secretary had ordered a review of Third Energy’s financial resilience.

Despite this, the issue of hydraulic fracturing remains a key one in Ryedale.

Later this month, a Government-appointed planning inspector will begin to examine the North Yorkshire joint minerals and waste plan, which will set policy on fracking into the 2030s. The day set aside for oil and gas submissions is a week after the debate on Tuesday 13 March.

The shale gas company, INEOS, is also expected to begin seismic testing for shale gas in its licence areas in North Yorkshire this year. Correspondence between the company and the North York Moors National Park suggests that INEOS is planning to host public meetings about its proposed operations.

The case of the speakers

Kevin Hollinrake

Kevin Hollinrake debate

House of Commons debate

Mr Hollinrake (pictured left), an MP for the area since 2015, has said shale gas would provide a bridge while the UK develops renewable energy sources, improves energy efficiency and builds new nuclear plants.

He has argued that reports by the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Public Health England have concluded that shale gas can be developed whilst protecting the environment, provided that operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation.

He has said he would meet regularly with the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive and other agencies to ensure that public health is not put at risk. He will endeavour to make sure that the taxpayer or landowner does not have to meet the longer-term cost of shale gas exploration, for site restoration and aftercare, even if the operator goes out of business.

Michael Hill

mike hill Refracktion2

Photo: Refracktion

Mr Hill (pictured right), a chartered engineer and member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, has contributed to some of the key reports on the regulation of fracking. He has also provided expert guidance on similar questions to the UK government, the European Commission, the Royal Society and others.

He questions whether UK regulators have sufficient expertise in relation to fracking, whether they have the capacity to be effective and whether the existing regulations are adequate.

Mr Hill argues that the UK’s well examination scheme is not fit for purpose for onshore activities, and says that it is essential that it should be made so if severe damage is to be avoided.

He believes that the current regime allows operators to decide for themselves whether to follow best practices and that the authorities are ill prepared to provide any supervision.

The debate

After initial speeches, the audience will be invited to ask questions. Each speaker will then sum up and a vote will be taken on the motion.

The debate is on Thursday 8th March 2018, from 7pm-9pm, in the main hall of Lady Lumley’s School, Swainsea Lane, Pickering YO18 8NG.

Tickets are now available for Kirkbymoorside residents. From Monday 12 February all Ryedale residents will be able to apply. They can be obtained from the Town Clerk: email town.clerk@kirkbymoorsidetowncouncil.gov.uk or phone 01751432217, or online at https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/kirkbymoorside-town-council. Tickets are limited to two per applicant.

8/2/18 Kirbymoorside town clerk’s email address corrected

33 replies »

  1. So is Mike’s argument that he believes the regulators are not good enough to regulate the industry rather than the practice itself not being safe?

    • I think Mike is arguing that with insufficient regulatory ‘teeth’ unsafe practices will be inevitable. Besides known risks there are accidents and corner-cutting practices (to save money) that go with this industry.
      [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

  2. What a joke. Is Mike Hill going to claim that only 1 out of 10 of the RAE recommendations are in place like he did in Latham St Anne’s recently?
    Is he going to claim that he will drink bottled water as somehow fracking will poison water, even though regulations ban drilling in water extraction areas?
    Is he going to claim that land will be polluted by chemicals that are not permitted here?
    Will he give details of his industry experience? Does selling specialty pumps qualify him to talk about drilling?

      • Ken can’t – he lives in Westbury on Trym – this seems to be a locals only affair.

        I wonder if Kevin will lose as badly as Ken did in Harrogate. It would be hard but it could happen!

        7% in favour is the “high” watermark for Kevin to aim for.

        PS Ken – it’s Lytham as you’d know if you had ever been here x

    • I believe Mr Hill is a petroleum engineer according to what I have read, at least twice the experience Mr Wilkinson has and Mr Hill’s experience will be more current. I would think that qualifies him to be able to speak about fracking and probably a great deal more so than many that comment on this site.

      • KatT – I am not aware that Mr Hill is a member of this learned & professional body, are you? Surely he would advertise such a professional membership if he claims to be a petroleum engineer?? http://www.spe-uk.org/

        • Dr Nick Riley having looked up Mr Hill’s qualifications they are as follows C.Eng. MIET and understand that he has worked for 25 years in the industry.

          • Thank you for the information. Those are generic engineering accreditations. Exactly which tight gas projects has the gentleman been responsible for in his 25 year career? And what were his roles and responsibilities there? I am very interested in this since it helps understand how to weigh this persons opinions. Disclosure – I carry similar accreditation, have 45 years now in the industry having been responsible for various engineering aspects of some of the world’s largest gas projects.

  3. Hi Ruth, just tried emailing that address (not for a ticket but to ask if the debate can be live-streamed online), but received a mail delivery failure message saying “No Such User Here”. Please can you correct?

  4. so fracking is banned in water extraction areas, presumably that is because it might have a bad effect on water
    water that crops grow in, farm animsls and wildlife drink

    • Correct hrb. There are a lot more plant/animal/organisms, in any ecosystem, let alone farming, that rely on uncontaminated water (than we humans). The problems posed to drinking water supplies should just be considered the tip of the iceberg.

  5. Or,hrb, perhaps it’s the old precautionary principle. Or Gold Standard regulations?

    I would be much more interested in such “debates” AFTER some fracking has taken place. Without that, it will be a rehash of scaremongering, speculation and fabrication, with a smattering of anti American bias thrown in for good measure.

    • You are probably right Martin – Hollinrake will probably go on about that energy security myth to frighten people, hypothesise that house prices won’t fall and draw a few false conclusions generally, but it might not be all bad, as Mike Hill will be there to correct him.

  6. “Poorest will pay £57 more for energy as watchdog raises cap” Ofgem blamed rising wholesale gas and electricity prices and the cost of government green energy schemes for the 5.5 per cent rise in its price cap.

    Wonder if that will get an airing?

    How about energy security?

    “North Sea pipeline closes for second time in weeks”.

    Meanwhile, in USA, oil production increased to above 10m barrels per day, heading to over 11m barrels by end of 2018, on the back of surging shale output.

    Cancel the meeting.

    • It seems we are back on the carousel again……..

      iancowan2, livestreaming, now that’s a great idea; would be very interesting.

  7. Good logic Martin. Let the ground water be polluted and only then decide whether the ground-water is polluted or not. Empiricism vs speculation. Don’t let pre-existing evidence muddy the waters!

    • It’s a problem isn’t it.

      To quote John Baldwin “without gas for heating we die, without gas as a back-up electricity generator, we die in the dark”. An exaggeration of course but by the mid-2020’s imported gas will become an increasingly scarce and expensive commodity. China will increases it’s imports 15% year on year and other countries especially India will expand economically and do likewise. They are understandably in exactly the same position as the UK back in the 1950”s…lethal smogs led to a move away from coal.

      Or maybe all these scare stories about fracking are true, so we die of polluted water, or earthquakes or delivery lorry pollution or radiation poisoning.

      Compare the risks and then answer the energy question. Where do we get an affordable, reliable and environmentally sound source of energy? That’s the question any government has to answer as one of the first duties of any government is to keep the lights on.

  8. Debating about fracking???
    What have they been doing in the last 7 years???
    So all of these tit for tat after all these years werent about fracking ??

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