Politics

Scottish MP questions the government on protecting south east England from shale oil drilling

Fracking Week in Parliament (week ending 6 April 2018)

180408FWIW Group

The Energy Minister, Claire Perry, was questioned for the second consecutive week on the impact of shale oil drilling in south east England.

The questions were asked by the SNP’s Energy Spokesperson, Drew Hendry (pictured second left), who has a constituency in the Scottish Highlands more than 500 miles away.

Mr Hendry asked what steps the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) was taking to protect Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks from environmental damage from shale oil drilling in the region.

Last week, he’d asked about environmental risk assessments for shale oil drilling in south east England. DrillOrDrop report

Ms Perry (pictured centre) said National Parks and AONBs had the highest level of protection for landscape and scenic beauty. She said planning guidance was to refuse major developments “except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated that it is in the public interest”.

Balcombe

Balcombe in West Sussex, where flow tests are expected this year at the oil well drilled by Cuadrilla in 2013. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Planning authorities also have powers to restrict the cumulative effects of any potential developments, she said, adding:

“The Government continues to hold the view that these protections are sufficient.”

UK Oil & Gas Investments, Angus Energy and Europa are currently involved in projects to explore for oil in Surrey and West Sussex. Two of the sites are in AONBs.

No update on shale gas job estimates

In another parliamentary reply, Ms Perry confirmed that BEIS had not reviewed the estimate, published in 2014 by Ernst and Young, of jobs that could be created by a UK shale gas industry.

She was responding to the latest in a series of questions on this issue by the Green Party co-leader, Caroline Lucas, a regular speaker at protests outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site in Lancashire.

170918 PNR green Monday Refracktion 6

Caroline Lucas at a Green Monday rally at Preston New Road, 18 September 2017. Photo: Refracktion

Last week, Dr Lucas had asked for the basis of government comments that UK shale gas would support thousands of jobs. The EY report had said there was a potential, at its peak, for the industry to create over 64,000 jobs in the supply chain.

No update on number of fracking wells

The shadow Energy Minister, Alan Whitehead, asked Ms Perry for the most recent estimate of the number of fracking wells that would be in place by 2025.

Ms Perry replied that the estimate produced in 2017, in an unpublished cabinet report, of 155 wells was now considered out-of-date.

She said:

“The Government will continue to monitor progress of the shale gas industry and will revise its estimates as appropriate as the industry develops.”

Impact on farming and tourism

The former Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, got no more detail in the answer to his question on government discussions about the impact of shale gas extraction on the farming and tourism industries.

Ms Perry said the Business Secretary had “regular discussion with Cabinet Ministers on matters relating to energy policy.”

171120 PNR protest report launch Frack Free Lancashire2

Tim Farron MP with campaigner Tina Rothery outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 20 November 2017. Photo: Frack Free Lancashire

Mr Farron, who was born in Preston in Lancashire, has visited protesters outside outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool at least twice. Campaigners in both Lancashire and North Yorkshire have raised concerns that fracking would be bad news for agriculture and the visitor economy.


Transcripts

With thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com

Question by Tim Farron, Environment Spokesperson, Liberal Democrat, Westmorland and Lonsdale

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the effect of shale gas extraction on the (a) farming and (b) tourism industry.

Reply by Claire Perry, Energy Minister, Conservative, Devizes

My Rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has regular discussions with Cabinet Ministers on matters relating to energy policy.

Written question answered on 4 April 2018. Link to transcript

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

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the most recent estimate is of the number of fracking wells that will be in place by 2025.

Reply by Claire Perry

Based on information provided by industry dating from 2016, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy previously estimated in 2017 that there could be around 155 wells by 2025. These figures are now considered to be out of date.

The Government will continue to monitor progress of the shale gas industry and will revise its estimates as appropriate as the industry develops.

Written question answered on 6 April 2018. Link to transcript

Question by Drew Hendry, Energy Spokesperson, SNP, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to protect Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks and other protected areas from environmental damage from shale oil drilling in the South East of England.

Reply by Claire Perry

National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and The Broads have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty and the National Planning Policy Framework states that planning permission should be refused for major development, except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated that it is in the public interest.

In addition, National Planning Policy is clear that the relevant planning authorities have the power to assess and restrict the cumulative effects of any potential developments, including any adverse impacts on the natural or historical environment.

The Government continues to hold the view that these protections are sufficient.

Written question answered on 6 April 2018. Link to transcript

Caroline Lucas, Co-Leader, Green Party, Brighton Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 23 March 2018 to Question 131951, whether his Department has recently reviewed the estimate for the number of jobs that fracking could result in at peak published in the report by Ernst and Young, part-funded by his Department, entitled Getting ready for UK shale gas, published in April 2014; and if she will make a statement.

Reply by Claire Perry

The Department has not recently reviewed the estimate, as set out in the report by Ernst and Young, for the numbers of jobs that could be created by the UK shale gas industry.

Written question answered on 6 April 2018. Link to transcript

20 replies »

  1. Govt have no idea about employment potential of fracking, other than based on US studies – considered unsuitable for every other purpose due to different regulations, geology etc.
    Has the govt recently reviewed the estimate for the number of jobs from fracking?
    Reply: Claire Perry: The dept has not recently reviewed the estimate as set out in the Ernst and Young report dated 2014 (based on US data)

    Govt have no idea, or intestest or perhaps just don’t want to admit to the effect of fracking on farming and tourism.
    Reply to this question by Tim Farron, Claire Perry energy minister says ‘Sec of state for BEIS has regular discussions with cabinet ministers on matters relating to energy policy.’

    No idea (or interest?) of cumulative effect…
    What is most recent estimate of number of fracking wells by 2025?
    Reply: BEIS previous estimates in 2017 of 155 wells by 2025 are consided to be out of date. Govt will continue to moitor progress of shale gas industry and will revise its estimates as appropriate as the industry develops. So how does that fit in with NPPG that says development must be plan led when there’s no plan?

    What steps will BEIS take to protect NPs AONBs etc from fracking in the SE
    Reply: Govt continues to hold the view that current protections are sufficient.
    So what if current protections get reduced by the various MPAs under pressure from the industry, or other govt legislation continues to water down protections?

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