Politics

Minister quizzed on impact of fracking on UK climate targets

Fracking Week in Parliament.

palace of westminster

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

The Government was questioned this week on the impact that fracking would have on meeting the UK’s climate change targets.

Thangam DobbonaireLabour’s Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) asked what assessment had been made of the effect of fracking on the fourth and fifth carbon budgets for the period 2023-2032.

The Energy Minister, Claire Perry, said the Government’s strategy for meeting the carbon budgets was set out in the Clean Growth Strategy. This has no specific reference to shale gas in its 167 pages.

Ms Perry added:

“Continued use of natural gas from offshore and onshore sources is compatible with meeting our carbon budgets, and innovations in technologies such as Carbon Capture Usage and Storage have the potential to decarbonise this energy supply still further.”

The UK’s first National Infrastructure Assessment, published yesterday (10 July 2018), appeared to contradict this.

The assessment aims to be a long-term plan to achieve “high quality, good value, sustainable economic infrastructure. It also makes no specific reference to shale gas. But its proposals include 100% electric vehicles and 50% of UK power provided by renewables by 2030. The assessment also said:

“Even with emissions almost eliminated from power generation, the UK cannot achieve its emissions targets while relying on natural gas, a fossil fuel, for heating.

“Delivering a low cost, low carbon heating system is the major outstanding challenge. But the electricity system represented just such a challenge ten years ago. There are actions that the UK can and should take now”.

UK steel in the shale gas industry

Claire PerryMs Perry was also asked what the government was doing to maximise the use of UK steel in a shale gas industry.

Responding to a question by Labour’s Angela Smith (Penistone and Stocksbridge), Ms Perry said:

“I did hold a very effective shale industry roundtable, at which I was struck by the number of small companies that are making the pipes and specialty products that rely on UK steel and the opportunities for them.”

Angela Smith speaker

Extract from cached website for the Third UK Onshore Oil and Gas Summit

Ms Smith’s South Yorkshire constituency includes two shale gas exploration licences: PEDL272 held by Ineos and Pedl298 held by Warwick Energy. She was among the confirmed speakers at last week’s Third UK Onshore Oil and Gas Summit.

(The web link for the conference has since been removed but a cached version is still available).

What to do with fracking waste?

The former Thirsk and Malton MP, now Baroness McIntosh, asked how the Government intended to ensure waste water from fracking was disposed of safely.

baroness-mcintoshThe Baroness, whose former constituency includes Third Energy’s fracking site at Kirby Misperton, also asked about Government policy on releasing waste into water courses and injecting it back into wells.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble

The Environment Minister, Lord Gardiner, said the Environment Agency does not allow the injection of fracking waste. He added:

“Hydraulic fracturing fluid that returns to the surface, known as flowback fluid, can be reused and recycled onsite if it meets environmental standards. Flowback fluid that cannot be recycled will become waste, and must be taken offsite for treatment at appropriately licensed waste water treatment facilities.”

Concerns about planning changes

JulianSturdyThe York Central Conservative MP, Julian Sturdy, who represents a constituency with shale gas licences, raised concerns about government plans to change the planning system for shale gas applications.

The proposals include classing shale gas production schemes as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, to be decided by a government minister, and non-fracking exploration as permitted development, without the need for a planning application.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Sturdy asked:

“Will my right hon. Friend update me on when the consultation will be open, and does he agree that these kinds of planning applications must come forward on the basis of local authority consent?”

david-lidingtonDavid Lidington, the Chancellor of the Ducy of Lancaster, standing in for Theresa May, replied:

“We are committed to consulting on further shale gas planning measures. Those consultations are planned to open over the summer, and I reassure my hon. Friend that these decisions will always be made in a way that ensures that shale use can happen safely, respecting local communities and safeguarding the environment.”


Transcripts

With thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com

Question by Thangam Debbonaire, Labour, Bristol West, Opposition Whip

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of fracking on the UK meeting the targets of the (a) fourth carbon budget for 2023-2027 and (b) fifth carbon budget for 2028-2032.

Reply by Claire Perry, Conservative, Devizes, Energy Minister

Our approach to meeting the fourth and fifth Carbon Budgets is set out in the Clean Growth Strategy. Continued use of natural gas from offshore and onshore sources is compatible with meeting our carbon budgets, and innovations in technologies such as Carbon Capture Usage and Storage have the potential to decarbonise this energy supply still further.

Reply on 9 July 2018. Link to transcript


Question by Baroness McIntosh of Pickering, Conservative

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they intend to ensure that waste water from fracking is disposed of safely; and what is their policy towards (1) releasing waste water after treatment into a water course, and (2) injecting waste water back into the fracking well.

Reply by Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Conservative, Environment Minister

The Government supports strong regulatory controls to ensure that fracking is carried out safely. Environmental permits issued by the Environment Agency (EA) set legally binding conditions to ensure compliance with requirements for environmental protection. Hydraulic fracturing fluid that returns to the surface, known as flowback fluid, can be reused and recycled onsite if it meets environmental standards. Flowback fluid that cannot be recycled will become waste, and must be taken offsite for treatment at appropriately licensed waste water treatment facilities.

Waste water treatment facilities must have the correct environmental permits in place to receive waste flowback fluid, and must meet strict environmental standards for any discharge into receiving waters. This is similar to any other industrial effluent. The EA does not allow reinjection of waste water back into a fracking well for disposal purposes.

Reply on 9 July 2018. Link to transcript


Extract of speech by Angela Smith, Labour, Penistone and Stocksbridge

There are other aspects of UK manufacturing where a sector deal could play a real part. The development of the shale gas industry is one of those. Can the right hon. Lady update us on progress made in maximising UK steel content in the shale gas industry?”

Reply by Claire Perry

“That is an excellent point. The hon. Lady will know that I am keen for us to have an energy policy that delivers secure, affordable, low-carbon and innovative energy. I believe that onshore shale gas can play a part in that, and we are soberly going through the process of testing the wells. She raises an important point about ensuring that that work is done using UK steel content. I will take that away for my conversations with the companies, but I did hold a very effective shale industry roundtable, at which I was struck by the number of small companies that are making the pipes and specialty products that rely on UK steel and the opportunities for them, so the hon. Lady makes an excellent point.”

Westminster Hall debate, 10 July 2018. Link to transcript

Question by Julian Sturdy, Conservative, York Outer

There are growing concerns in my constituency about the proposed changes to planning powers for fracking applications being put forward for consultation by the Government and specifically the idea of treating non-fracking shale exploration as permitted development. Will my right hon. Friend update me on when the consultation will be open, and does he agree that these kinds of planning applications must come forward on the basis of local authority consent?


 

Reply by David Lidington, Conservative, Aylesbury, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

As my hon. Friend knows, shale gas has the potential to boost economic growth and support thousands of jobs across a number of sectors, as well as adding to this country’s energy security. The Government have outlined how we believe shale gas planning decisions should be made quickly and fairly to all involved. We are committed to consulting on further shale gas planning measures. Those consultations are planned to open over the summer, and I reassure my hon. Friend that these decisions will always be made in a way that ensures that shale use can happen safely, respecting local communities and safeguarding the environment.

Prime Minister’s Questions, 11 July 2018. Link to transcript

15 replies »

  1. Claire Perry is peddling a myth there. The potential of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has yet to be realised at any significant scale. Meanwhile – and I’ll repeat my assertion – methane is the stalking horse that is tipping the world’s climate system over a dangerous tipping point (cue deniers knee jerk cry of ‘scaremongering’). People just have to recognise alarm bells and alarm bells I’m afraid (not as ‘alarmism’)…
    https://grist.org/article/the-west-is-burning-and-its-barely-july/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=weekly

  2. The West burned in 1976, PhilipP.

    What have we done following that, that stopped it burning until 2018??

    Fitting exceptional years weather patterns to your theories might say something about your agenda, but please explain where the 1976 and 2018 summers were for the other 40 plus years.

    Now, for those who remember, 1976 produced a baby boom as it was too hot to sleep! Haven’t seen a “link” warning about that yet, so just supplying my own little cautionary warning.

  3. Noticing a trend that the myths originally spouted by the barmy brigade are dwindling. So much so that the questioning by anti MPs is becoming more and more desperate.

  4. Martin and GBK do you also believe in a flat earth? Why are coastal towns needing to shore up sea defences due to “rising sea levels” ? Why are some countries developing strategies for when their land becomes overcome by oceans. Why are we seeing scientists photos and data informing us the ice caps are melting? Why do you not believe any of the evidence put before you? Take your eyes from your wallets and bank balances and please look up.

  5. The Internet Paula.

    Do you believe much of what you see on the Internet now, often from the other side of the world live, was not happening some years ago?

    I have told you before Paula, I have no investments in fracking. Does your argument fall if I don’t?

    Climate change is happening, as it has been happening for centuries. That is not in dispute, but to attach every hot summer, that is 40+ years since the last one, to your wagon is pretty poor. Which would you like to push-the current summer or the Beast from the East? The big brother to that was 1963. A real trend showing there as well-not.

    Whilst I do not keep a record of all our summers and winters in the UK, I have posted many times being involved in agriculture all my life. Some years have been slightly different from others and there have been a few more unusual seasons, but that’s the sort of climate we enjoy in the UK. You can also examine what was happening to the ice caps in Viking times. Or when people skated on the Thames. Most people don’t because that is a little more difficult but it doesn’t mean nothing happened then.

  6. What we find Paula, with those who do not wish to see or know the real current situation with respect to climate change, is that people will talk in palliative terms about past changes that they recognise (after some cherry picking), and meanwhile there are lot of sources that feed them with what they want to hear and believe. i.e serving deniers’ needs for confirmation bias. It’s a latter day religion. The fact that the world is in an unprecedented situation now regarding the acceleration of climate risk factors is just what a lot of people don’t want to know.

    Yes climate has changed to much hotter (and colder) average temperatures in the past but not due to man-made influences. And those changes happened over millennia, allowing species migration and adaptations, except where there where abrupt changes (due to volcanism of meteorite impact etc) occurred. What is happening now is more abrupt and more extreme than historically, and prehistorically detectable – covering over 8 million years and 5 mass extinction events. What appears in slow motion, to many (perhaps two thirds), may not be an issue until it’s way too late.

  7. “not due to man made influences”.

    Yes, correct. So, why are all climate changes NOW due to man made influences? Paula talks about “scientists”, what about the scientists who receive no funding regarding climate change research and do not agree that all climate change is now man made? In fact the majority do not, but the activists ignore that. You groan on about Big Oil and the money at stake. Well, the global warming industry is now world wide, huge, and subject to the same sort of financial considerations and has just as much to gain as anyone else at slanting debates.

    • Simply wrong Martin. You need to upgrade your sources of information. This anti-science belief of yours is truly deplorable.

  8. It seems the world disagrees with you martin.

    State of the Climate | National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI)

    The State of the Climate is a collection of monthly summaries recapping climate-related occurrences on both a global and national scale.

    https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/

    Heat wave shattered records this past week in US, elsewhere

    https://m.phys.org/news/2018-07-shattered-week.html

    Heat wave kills 19 in Canada (Update)

    https://m.phys.org/news/2018-07-eastern-canada.html

  9. And here:

    The weather records the 2018 heatwave is breaking and the ones it’ll smash if it continues – Wales Online

    It has been the warmest June on record in Wales

    https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/weather-records-2018-heatwave-breaking-14868281

    All-Time Heat Records Set Worldwide Since Late June | The Weather Channel

    This summer has been brought the hottest weather on record in many international cities.

    https://weather.com/news/weather/news/2018-07-05-all-time-temperature-record-set-worldwide

    Killer heatwave grips Northern Hemisphere as temperature records fall

    At least 54 people have died amid an extreme heatwave in the Canadian province of Quebec

    https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/killer-heatwave-grips-northern-hemisphere-12871468

    UK weather: Scotland records its highest ever temperature

    The Met Office says the highest temperature in Scotland was 33.2C, recorded in Motherwell – breaking a record set back in 2003.

    https://news.sky.com/story/uk-weather-scotland-records-its-highest-ever-temperature-11424053

    Britain set for MONSTER HEATWAVE in weeks and SUMMER SCORCHER will last till September

    AS BRITAIN cools down in the aftermath of the blazing scorcher experts warn the next “monster heatwave” is just around the corner.

    https://www.express.co.uk/news/weather/694729/UK-weather-forecast-heatwave-sun-summer-hot-till-August-September

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