Minister quizzed on evidence behind fracking proposals

palace of westminster

Palace of Westminster Source: By Superikonoskop [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Louise Haigh

The Labour MP, Louise Haigh (left), has questioned the government about the basis of the written ministerial statement, issued earlier this month, on shale gas and fracking.

The WMS by the Energy and Local Government Secretaries announced proposals to take fracking applications out of local authority control and allow non-fracking shale gas proposals to avoid the planning system. DrillOrDrop report

Ms Haigh, whose Sheffield Heeley constituency is in two Ineos shale gas exploration licence areas, wanted to know what and who had informed the statement.

She asked for information on which organisations, business and individuals had made representations to the Energy Secretary, Greg Clark. She also requested details of the evidence that fracking would support jobs and the local economy, as the statement claimed, and what impact there would be on insurance and the fracking industry.

Claire Perry 180521

Claire Perry giving evidence on 21 May 2018 to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee. Source: Parliament TV

Replying for Mr Clark, the Energy Minister, Claire Perry, said:

“We have worked closely with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government when producing the statement and consulted other relevant government departments, the Oil and Gas Authority, the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, the industry trade body and shale gas operators prior to the statement being made.”

She added that correspondence from a wide range of organisations, received routinely, also informed policy.

Ms Perry said “a thriving shale gas industry” in the UK could create “a large number of jobs”. But she said it was not possible to give an accurate estimate until there was a clear idea of the amount of recoverable gas. She said:

“To determine the potential of the industry and how development will proceed, we need exploration to go ahead.”

Ms Perry said the government and the shale gas trade organisation were discussing with the insurance industry what products it could provide.

On tourism, Ms Perry repeated the Government’s view that the UK had “world class regulation, which would ensure that “shale exploration can happen safely, respecting local communities and safeguarding the environment”.

She said the measures in the WMS fulfilled the commitment made in the Conservative Party 2017 manifesto. This said fracking applications would be considered Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects and decided by a planning inspector, while non-fracking schemes would be classed as permitted development and not require a planning application. But later in her reply she appeared to contradict this by saying:

“the relevant planning authority decides whether activity is acceptable at a particular location, after local communities and other interested parties have had the opportunity to set out their view on the benefits and impacts of the proposal.”


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

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Written Ministerial Statement of 17 May 2018, HCWS 690 on Energy Policy:

  • What representations he has received from (a) organisations, (b) businesses and (c) individuals on fracking;
  • Which applications for exploratory fracking informed that statement;
  • If he will publish the evidential basis for the statement that fracking will support jobs and the local economy; and what assessment he has made of the effect of fracking on the
    • (i) insurance and
    • (ii) tourism industry.

Reply by Claire Perry, Energy Minister, Conservative, Devizes

We have worked closely with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government when producing the statement and consulted other relevant government departments, the Oil and Gas Authority, the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, the industry trade body and shale gas operators prior to the statement being made. More generally, we routinely receive large volumes of correspondence from a wide range of organisations regarding shale gas production, all of which inform our policy deliberation.

A thriving UK shale industry could create a large number of jobs in the UK, indirectly support other industries, and help our economy grow. The Task Force on Shale Gas concluded in 2015 that the development of a shale gas industry would provide substantial employment in the UK, while noting that it will not be possible to ascertain an accurate estimate of the scale of this opportunity until we have a clearer idea of the amount of recoverable gas. Please see: https://www.taskforceonshalegas.uk/reports/Fourth%20Report

To determine the potential of the industry and how development will proceed, we need exploration to go ahead and the measures set out in the statement fulfil the Government’s 2017 Manifesto commitments to support this industry.

Independently verified figures show that during the last quarter of 2017, spend in the Lancashire economy from Cuadrilla’s shale gas operations increased to £6.8 million in total, with 55 full time and contract jobs and 6 apprenticeships created. Please see: https://cuadrillaresources.com/media-resources/press-releases/cuadrilla-drives-7m-lancashire-economy/

There will be opportunities for the insurance industry in shale gas exploration and production. UK Government Investments are in ongoing discussions with insurance brokers to discuss exactly what kind of insurance they can provide. Separately, the industry trade body has been discussing possible insurance products directly with insurance providers.

Regarding the impact on tourism, the UK has world class regulation to ensure that shale exploration can happen safely, respecting local communities and safeguarding the environment. For shale gas projects, the relevant planning authority decides whether activity is acceptable at a particular location, after local communities and other interested parties have had the opportunity to set out their view on the benefits and impacts of the proposal.

20 replies »

  1. This is the “frackogram” that was briefly referred to in the “Power Trip” movie that Paul referred to in another post that shows how Cuadrilla have penetrated government and Lord John Brown minister without portfolio, has appointed representatives for the oil and gas interests in every government department? That is just horrifying and must contravene just about every democratic accountability principle?

    There is a slight amendment of course, Amber Rudd is replaced by Sajid Javid, hardly a step in the right, or left directions you might say?

    Click to access frackogram_2015-A3.pdf

    It makes interesting reading and following through, and illustrates just how deep the oil and gas infiltration and high jacking rot has set.

    It is obvious that this government has been severely compromised by these appointments and perhaps explains much of the gung ho for gas attitude we see from certain protagonists and their apparent inability, or unwillingness to address renewable sources in anything more than offhand financially and governmentally crippled barely tolerance?

    [Text edited at poster’s request]

    • “shows how shows”? Too many shows on the first post?

      Could you reduce that to “shows how” please?


      [Previous comment corrected as requested]

      • Morning, Phil. Glad to see you’ve not abandoned us for a Half Term holiday.

        Thanks for posting the chart – interesting insight into the thinking of some. Can you point out to us one specific, provable example of how the Government has been compromised, please?

        • Good afternoon Jeff, my working days are such as half term holidays amongst others. it frees other people up to be with their families.

          Did you watch the Power Trip movie? That is the place to start, that should explain the frackogram.

          Kind of explains the why and the wherefores of the frackogram and that should answer all your questions.
          If you want specifics then perhaps contact Paul Mobbs, whose work it is, but its plain enough for those with eyes to see.

    • Phil C

      I hope the MP has better luck obtaining answers from a Government Minister , than this TV presenter had the other day .

      On this occasion it was like getting ” blood from a stone ”

      • Hello Jack, yes i saw that on an internet blog, interesting how the incident clearly embarrassed Conservative Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson? And yet a simple brazen it out attempt on his part would have done him much more credit?

        The elephants in the park was just a televisual gift and expanded the imagery way beyond the usual elephants in the room allusion into farce? If Gavin Williamson cant even see the elephants in the park reference to the Skripal poisoning, then the ever growing number of alarming elephants in the room have no chance? Amongst them of course being the fracking debacle, which is an entire herd of rampaging elephants rampaging through the halls of Westminster complete with the attendant effluvium residue?

        I seriously worry that Gavin Williamson is Defence Secretary, one would normally expect someone with, how should i put it? Less wet paint? Beyond loosely strung wet paint Pinocchio model anyway? But then i look around the attendant alternatives in the tory toy cupboard, and i guess better a loosely strung up tory toy fresh off the shelf model than the over tightly strung up slightly chipped but no less wooden available candidates?

        Was his nose always that long?

  2. Shame the interviewer didn’t pursue the subject the interview was supposed to be about, Jack. Then the “audience” might have actually been informed about the subject the interview was supposed to have covered, which I believe was helping elephants, rather than helping an interviewers ratings.
    Just me being old fashioned again. I prefer to hear/see the interviewer reporting something that is newsworthy and fresh, rather than trying to create his own news-especially, when it has already been covered by others long ago.

    • Martin ,

      If you can’t get the most simplest of answers from a senior Minister, do you really think it was worth going any further with this interview , on any other topic ???

      • Martin ,

        Also lets not forget , THERE WAS NO SOLID PROOF RUSSIA was responsible for this incident .

        Therefore can we trust his words on other topics like helping the Elephants ???

    • Ok Martin ,

      I can understand that you may not of seen the very start of the interview , but let me assure you the plight of the Elephants was FULLY discussed prior to the ” Russia should just shut up and go away ” question being put forward to the Defence Secretary at the end of the interview…..

      As far as being newsworthy, that’s a matter of opinion….. Maybe the public learning about the endless number of scientific studies from world leading organisations warning about the dangers associated with fracking would be more newsworthy .

      I would of course be more than happy to present you with my long standing list of world leading scientists and organisations that warn about the dangers of fracking , once again, but as you have NEVER responded when I do, is there any point ????

    • No need to thank me MARTIN,

      HERE IS…… Richard Madeley explaining his actions regarding his question to the Defence Secretary on the, ” Russia should just shut up and go away ” statement.

      Just for the record , I fully, 100% support Gavin Williamson proposals on how to stop illegal hunting of Elephants .. If I were to meet him, I would certainly shake his hand .

  3. “We have worked closely with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government when producing the statement and consulted other relevant government departments, the Oil and Gas Authority, the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, the industry trade body and shale gas operators prior to the statement being made.”
    Unfortunately, that just says ‘we had discussions with these people, which is what we do all the time’, and gives no indication as to whether the wording of the WMS is factually accurate or based on their responses or recommendations. It’s just more bland meaningless rhetoric without the detail.

  4. Can’t see what any of that had to do with elephants, Jack.

    You can be as dismissive as you like about the Salisbury “incident”. I had a son driving an ambulance in and out of that hospital at that time, so a bit more than an “incident” to me, when the medical staff were worrying about how big the “incident” would become.

    Surprised you had the time to switch from RT to ITV.

    • Martin


      Just like yourself , it would appear that your son knows all people in all places .

      I remember not long ago when you said that your ambulance driving son , through his contacts, had been told by the Lancashire ambulance services operating in the Cuadrilla area, that they were fed up with the rowdy protesters …..At that time I sent you several responses back on the matter ….

      Salisbury, Lancashire , seems to get around a lot , or is this just an attempt to bolster your position without providing any proof ???

      Best regards, Comrade Jack

  5. The Green ideology around electric car roll out around the global may come back and shoot them in the arse…..if the EV rollout as they wish the demand for electricity will be skyrocketing and compete for house hold and industry supply. The price will be unaffordable for consumer. And if their intermittent renewables can provide enough for demand at the right time more baseload backup will be needed and that mean more gas and nuclear. Or even coal. In case of poor countries like China and India if gas is too costly then more cheap coal will be burnt for electricity demand for EV charging.
    In term of energy efficiency it will be worse off than internal combustion engine because burning gas or oil to generate electricity for EV will lose 30% or more of its energy via tranmission from gas to heat to power line transmission to the charging point. Whereas dorect burning in combustion engine most engery is transmitted directly into mechanical power.
    So the roll out of EV may not be as good for the environment as it seems.

  6. You’re missing several points TW. Baseload supplies are already calibrated for peak demand periods, so there’s not only a lot of spare capacity (off peak periods) but increasing storage of any kind, including cars, can redistribute off peak to peak demand periods. There’s areas now experimenting with free eV usage due to the cars feeding back a portion of their off-peak charge into the grid at peak periods. The leveling out effect brings down peak demand from utility companies overall. In the long run of course the renewable generation will have to take over but that’s a way off for at least the next decade or so.

    Enjoy a 200yr commemoration of the writing of Frankenstein while learning about Climate Change: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOcywQ2Ycg8&t=8s

    • I’m still a little unsure if the statement ‘in the long run renewable generation will have to take over’ isn’t likely to be junk. I know some people seem to have a bit of a fetish for wind and solar (since people don’t quite fetishise hydro and biomass in the same way), but the idea of favouring particular technologies in the long term never seems to make anyone look clever.

      Wind and solar have so many disadvantages, from land use, to resource consumption, to requiring backup that they are inevitably weak long term. Their only advantages are carbon emissions and lack of fuel use. There are technologies that are zero emission and where fuel is easily available that don’t have the disadvantages of wind and solar, and therefore if ever come about are quite likely to displace wind and solar.

      So, here is my suspicion. Wind and solar depend entirely on no better technology being developed… That, of course, shouldn’t be at all controversial. If something better is developed then wind and solar should go the way of the dodo. So the question just become, ‘will they’?

      I have no idea, of course, but I at least keep an open mind to it and my mind opens a little bit more when I see the timescales some of these large wind farms are locking in subsidies for. 25 years is a long time, and ample time for other technological surprises.

      So, I suppose it depends on what you mean by long term. If you mean 10 years then fine. 20, perhaps. That we’ll be running the planet on wind and solar in 50 years. I’d flip a coin in that one, with my suspicion being we won’t. I think as soon as a high density/low land use, zero emission, high power output that needs zero backup is developed (commercially) wind and solar will literally start to be taken down (except some more extreme off grid applications of course).

      So I think the best way to look at renewables as if a government/consumer bet. A gamble that we won’t come up with something better. We need to build them because we don’t have something else, but that is the only reason. It isn’t that they’re such a great tech. I think they’ll get the bottom kicked out of them at some point. Which no-one should mind unless they are being ideological for some strange reason. What we should be aiming for is zero emission technology with the lowest environmental impact we can. We should be tech neutral towards whatever that is.

      P.S. I like the idea of cars acting as a reserve. We’d obviously all be hoping to make some money out of allowing the grid to use our vehicles like that, if we’re buying when cheap and selling back when not. Companies would probably try and use our vehicles, like they have our roofs. Meaning you’ll get cars subsidised I suppose, but with companies making the money and richer people being able to do it themselves and make the money themselves. I do wonder about battery life though, if your car is being used like this by the grid every day. Its going to mean many more charge/discharge cycles on your car and it means the price of the electricity needs to be able the value of depreciation of your car/batteries. Else I’d just opt out of it, if it costs more to be in then you get from the cost of your electricity. If the government has to step in to make it the law that people must do it and must accept car devaluation then that government will likely lose the next election etc.

      My only other thought, as ever when it comes to the internet of things like this is about security. Its one hell of a thing to plus everything like this in and network it. Can it be fully secured?? Well, no, because nothing can. So can terrorists do things like wait until the sun is shining and we’re producing too much and then flood the grid and damage things that are protected to it? Probably. What does that mean for things like cars attached in large numbers and network connected? Its a national security issue for sure and I suppose we just have to keep our fingers crossed that our side is smarter than theirs – or other nations. Its alot to put to trust though, but its the way things are going.

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s