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.
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.