Fracking Week in Parliament: DrillOrDrop review of what UK politicians say about the onshore oil and gas industry.
The Prime Minister was questioned about statements on her website supporting local decision-making – at a time when the government proposes to take some shale gas schemes out of local authority control.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, the Labour MP for Ellesmere Port, Justin Madders, said the government’s proposals were causing “huge concern”:
“This concern is seemingly shared by a prominent Conservative MP, who has a number of statements on her website, including that ‘local planning decisions should be returned to locally elected councillors’, and ‘local councils need the power to stop unsuitable developments’.”
Mr Madders said:
“The Prime Minister will I hope recognise these comments. She made them. Does she still agree with them?”
Mrs May replied:
“It has always been the case, across the planning structure that we have here in the United Kingdom, that there are decisions taken at local level, but there are also decisions—sometimes those local decisions are referred—at a national level.”
“Future depends on renewables”
Labour’s Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central) criticised government policy which he said was responsible for a halving of investment in renewable energy.
He asked the Prime Minister:
“Instead of encouraging carbon-emitting technologies such as fracking, which is deeply unpopular in Sheffield and across the country, will she recognise that our future depends on serious investment in wind, solar, tidal and other renewables?”
Mrs May replied:
“I believe that in the provision of energy across the United Kingdom we need to have a diverse range of supplies. That is why, yes, we do, we have and we will continue to support renewable energy, but it is also why we are ensuring, for example, that we have a supply of energy in the future from nuclear and that we look across other forms of energy as well—for example, ensuring that we see an increase in the number of interconnectors with Europe. A diverse supply is what we need in our energy sector.”
In a written question (6 September 2018), Labour’s Rosie Cooper asked why a report on shale gas potential impacts on air quality had been delayed.
The environment minister, Therese Coffey, replied:
“This was a routine report by the Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG). Although it was based on an assimilation of evidence that took place in 2015, the report itself was not finalised until 2017. It was prepared alongside other AQEG reports, for example on ultrafine particles and vegetation, which were produced on similar timelines. These reports were released together following publication of the government’s Clean Air Strategy.”