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. Well this is a strange one… Let’s look at the last time this went before The Commons…

    Drew Hendry
    Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

    Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) to Extract Shale Gas

    Parliament has voted on whether hydraulic fracturing (fracking) should be permitted at all, where it should be permitted, and how such operations ought be regulated.

    Let’s see how Drew Hendry voted:

    Drew Hendry voted against greater restrictions on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract shale gas in National Parks, the Broads, areas of outstanding natural beauty, World Heritage sites, and near points where water is abstracted for domestic and food production purposes.

    Now let’s look at Claire Perry
    The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

    Let’s see how Claire Perry voted:

    Claire Perry voted for greater restrictions on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract shale gas in National Parks, the Broads, areas of outstanding natural beauty, World Heritage sites, and near points where water is abstracted for domestic and food production purposes.

    WOW!!!

    I think Mr. Hendry should take a long hard look at himself in the mirror, the term hypocrite is quite apt for someone who votes officially in The Commons for one thing then says something else…

    • Kisheny
      As per post below, maybe Drew asked a guestion that does not need and answer( given his voting record ) , but Clair has not done her homework and missed an easy goal ( given her voting record ).
      Just politics I guess.

    • Perhaps he changed his mind after researching the truth and found better information?
      Or is such an awakening not permitted?

  2. I think you misunderstood my post Kisheny. I meant the replies given in the House to the questions put to them – just anodyne mush.

    • Sorry Iris, misunderstanding there.

      It annoys me when politicians vote one way in The Commons then make an argument that contradicts their views to further their political career.

      Take Tim Farron for example, how did he vote the last time shale gas was on the table in The Commons?

      Tim Farron voted against greater restrictions on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract shale gas in National Parks, the Broads, areas of outstanding natural beauty, World Heritage sites, and near points where water is abstracted for domestic and food production purposes.

      https://www.theyworkforyou.com/divisions/pw-2015-12-16-151-commons/mp/11923

      I think Claire Perry is finding it hard to evaluate the amount of jobs created until gas starts to flow and the quantities but this should be clearer later this year…

      By Claire Perry voting for the tightest regulations on the industry it show her commitment to attain the highest standards of this industry in the World. A sentiment which is woefully lacking in some opposition MPs… But then again it was The Labour Party who started issuing the exploratory licences in 2008 to get the shale industry rolling in the U.K…

  3. I guess the SNP are keen to ask about shale drilling in the SE of England, as it’s an easy question to answer. Nothing, not drilled it yet ( unlike Lancashire ), giving Clair Perry the opportunity to waffle on a bit, rather than ask them what shale they refer to. Or Drew knows that it’s not shale, and was testing Clair if she did. It seems that opportunity was passed by.

  4. Just the SNP desperate their leverage regarding oil/gas supplies might be weakened, without which another referendum has no traction.
    Pathetic-should be told to get on with their day job.

  5. It is quite clear the SNP was told to enforce a moratorium on shale gas in Scotland by the Green Party which now props up the SNP. Then puts forward the, it’s the Scottish peoples will as a convenient smoke screen.

    All those talks between Nicola and Jim must be a bit embarrassing now. Ineos has to import shale gas from America to enable its operations, 5% of Scottish GDP. No wonder Scottish people have to pay more taxes…

    Heavily subsidized wind turbines with such crazy tariffs that pay the Companies more money to turn them off than when they are producing at peak generation times,..

    Now the subsidies are stopped which facilitated buying credits for the Paris climate agreement are more wind turbines going to be built? Or are they going to be decommissioned after their twenty year life having not paid for themselves?

  6. The U.K will bring down it’s emissions through shale gas, but this extract exactly sums up the near future challenge the U.K faces politically.

    The UK is now standing on the brink of an industry which could dramatically revive its fortunes outside the EU. By the time of the British exit of the EU and its “implementation” period the fracking industry will have begun to produce real returns for the country. The EU may find that it needs the UK far more than the UK needs the EU.

  7. Solar farms receive more cash from green subsidies than selling the energy they produce

    The total subsidy provided to all generators of solar electricity last year is estimated to be about £1.2billion.
    This was part of the £5.6billion subsidy paid to green energy producers, which critics say inflates household energy bills.
    Figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) following a Freedom of Information request show ten of the biggest solar farms in the country pocketed more than £2.5million each in eco-subsidy last year.
    The payouts were offered to help increase the amount of ‘green’ energy produced in the UK.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5592691/Solar-farms-receive-cash-green-subsidies-selling-energy-produce.html

  8. Considering the SNP are killing Scotland’s GDP year on year I think they should maybe just concentrate on issues north of the border.

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