North Yorks Tory MP vows to oppose relaxed planning rules for shale gas sites

181011 Malton Meeting DoD

Kevin Hollinrake, second left, at a meeting on government shale gas planning changes, 11 October 2018. Photo DrillOrDrop

The Conservative MP whose constituency has the largest number of shale gas licences told a packed hall of constituents he opposed government proposals that could relax the rules for exploration sites.

Kevin Hollinrake, who represents the area where Third Energy wants to frack, said there was “a lack of clarity” about the proposals.

But he said he would oppose the government if entire well sites were treated as permitted development – avoiding the need for planning permission.

“Building a well pad is a hugely significant industrial activity. If this would mean a producer could build a well wherever they wanted we have absolutely got to oppose that. It is absolutely unacceptable.”

Mr Hollinrake, a parliamentary private secretary to the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, was one of five speakers at a meeting in Malton. It was part of Let Communities Decide, a week of actions raising awareness of a consultation on the government proposals (see DrillOrDrop report).

The MP said any opposition from him would “carry a lot more weight” with the government because he had supported ministers on shale gas in the past. But he said:

“If they push ahead with these plans I will oppose them.”

Opponents of the government proposals have said the rule change would treat shale gas sites like minor building projects, such as small extensions or garden sheds.

Alan Linn, chief operating officer for Third Energy, said a site like the one his company operated at Kirby Misperton needed a lot of other approvals, even if it were classed as permitted development under the proposals.

Frank Colenso, a local campaigner and member of the panel, said fracking would be a foregone conclusion under the proposed changes, which would also give decisions on shale gas production schemes to central government.

“The Secretary of State is hardly going to turn it down for fracking after companies have spent millions on a well.”

Another member of the audience, Bishop Graham Cray, from Kirby Misperton, said the government’s proposals represented a danger of what he described as “unaccountable power”. He said:

“Government is taking a patronising attitude to local communities.

“There needs to be, not just proper local democracy, but a proper debate that takes us seriously.”

Mr Hollinrake replied:

“The producers cannot be in charge. They have to be held in check by regulators and politicians”.

To laughs from the audience, Mr Hollinrake said:

“I do not think government is going to press ahead regardless. I think it will listen.”

The panel was joined for the question and answer session by the new shale gas commissioner, Natascha Engel. She told the audience:

“If there is an overwhelming case [against the planning proposals] government will have to listen.”

“It doesn’t”, people shouted back.

Ms Engel, who described herself as a government appointment, independent but not impartial, said:

“We do not get this level of opinion in Derbyshire. Normally people wait for a response.”

One member of the audience answered:

“That’s because they’re four years behind us.”

181011 Malton meeting FFU1

Audience at the meeting in Malton on government shale gas planning rules, 11 October 2018. Photo: Frack Free United

“Fracking is a dead duck”

Andy Tickle, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England which opposes the government proposals, said:

“We want to believe that this is a serious consultation where ministers will carefully consider our responses

“We hope too the government will now recognise that to proceed with them would be a ruthless subversion of local democracy and do the right thing – drop them.”

Referring to this week’s report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he said fracking was “a dead duck”.

“We must speed up the transition to renewable energy. We have absolutely no time to mess around introducing a new carbon emitting fossil fuel industry.”

Nicholas Howard, of Castle Howard, a member of the panel, said of the IPCC conclusions that major economic and social changes were needed to tackle climate change:

“I was terrified when I read this report.”

But he said:

“There is good work going on. The next thing we have to do is something about it.”

Kenelm Storey, the president of the local Conservative association, who chaired the meeting, said:

“We want a joined up energy policy, concentrating on renewables over fossil fuels, that is implemented through the local planning system.”

Travelling circus

There was anger in the overwhelmingly anti-fracking audience at comments by the energy minister, Claire Perry that shale gas opponents were “a travelling circus”.

Asked to respond to the minister’s remark, Mr Hollinrake said:

“The vast majority of people are decent, honourable people. I do not see the travelling circus. This is not my experience. Some people do move around and protest about shale gas but the vast majority are decent local people.”

Asked whether he was proud to be an MP for a country that sent peaceful protesters to jail, Mr Hollinrake said:

“Peaceful protesting does not sound as if people should have been arrested but people who are going about their commercial business must be able to do that without unlawful disruption.”

Reporting from this meeting was made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers


Categories: Politics, Uncategorized

24 replies »

  1. As usual Mss Engle is disrespectful of NE Derbyshire. We are strong. We are involved and respected at all levels of the anti fracking movement. It’s just that she is so out of touch she has no idea. Will we engage to up date her. We proberbly won’t give her the time of day.

    • Fred
      Ruth may help us with some context over the comment by Ms Engle and the audience.

      It looks to me as if she was of the opinion that N.E Derbyshire folk listen to a reply before commenting ( so those at the meeting did not, and did not wait for her reply before commenting ).

      As such it seems a backhand complement to those in N.E Derbyshire.

      Plus I did not see that she specifically pointed the comment at anti frackers.

      So you may have jumped the gun in seeing a slight where none was intended, but if so ( in that shouting down speakers at a meeting is par for the course ) then she needs putting right in what to expect next time she visits.

      By the by, if you will not give her the time of day, how do you intend to engaged with her to update her ( or maybe if she wears a watch, the meeting will go ok?).

      • There was a full house of mainly anti frackers, the vast majority of whom would be very well informed and acutely aware of Ms Engel’s history and recent appointment. She trotted out the same old tired and patronising rhetoric heard on many occasions in the last 5-6 years and sounded much like a UKOOG PR person. Naturally, it didn’t go down well. While generally well behaved, the whole room reacted to the real howlers, while several questioners gave her short shrift when she went into typical politicians answers. Quite frankly, I can’t imagine any audience reacting differently, unless at an O&G conference or UKOOG PR event.

  2. Natascha Engel used to be paid by INEOS. Hardly impartial, then. It doesn’t look like a failed Labour MP trying to resurrect her political career is going to cut much mustard with local communities and her credibility is rock bottom before she starts. Local communities are not going to listen to her as she is clearly in bed with the fracking industry already.

  3. Local communities may take a very different view if/when fracking is shown to be no problem to local communities, and a potential source of revenue for local communities. MPs, current, and previous, may then find the issue is somewhat different.

    • Yes I am sure we will all be putting out the bunting for the 1000s of HGVs due through our villages. Woohoo (nb huge sarcasm warning!)

    • Fracking could only be shown to be no problem with comprehensive monitoring of baselines and ongoing effects of the many potential risks. This will only currently happen at two test fracks: PNR and KM8 (if it ever happens). It took intense lobbying before that happened. No monitoring, no evidence of either harm or no harm. Evidence of a genuine (rather than potential) source of revenue will not happen until well after any harm or lack of harm either.

    • Martin, every well shaft is a pathway, usually through the local fresh water aquifer, from the shale to the surface. Radioactive, toxic hydrocarbons, chemicals and greenhouse gases pass through it until it is plugged. Dependant on the quality of the shaft and the plug, geology and subsurface activities, every abandoned well will eventually leak, especially after an earthquake or minor tremor. Pollution can occur either during operation or years after the well has been abandoned. https://youtu.be/ZzDrheWDhGw

    • Yes Martin that’s where she did go very wrong , she thought people would buy into your rhetoric (that is her rhetoric) and that is never going to happen. Sell your shares
      Lots of us have been on holiday to America to take a look. We didn’t go to the sanitised areas that Ineos take their sheep to.

  4. Job going well Ms Engel
    ‘“We do not get this level of opinion in Derbyshire. Normally people wait for a response.”’ – no, they voted with their feet!

  5. Ahh, it is 1000s now! Not going for Jack’s 2013 Dead Sea Scrolls version?

    No wonder the two thirds are not convinced when between you there is the same game being played with two different balls. But, soon to end.

  6. Martin, when I read this I didn’t know whether to be angry or just cry – “Local communities may take a very different view if/when fracking is shown to be no problem to local communities, and a potential source of revenue for local communities.” We don’t care about the money! We care about life.

    Do you not realise that that the World is dying and needs emergency resuscitation just to survive. We are already locked into at least 1.5 degrees centigrade and the oceans are already warming up. If from today we did not produce a single atom of pollution that normally contributes to global warming, we would still be in a touch and go situation for the next few hundred years at least. The ‘locked-in’ stuff is what we have already burnt and cannot be altered. The affects of this will only become apparent withing the next 5 – 10 years. The damage has already been done. Fracking will only add to this.

    What has a ‘local source of revenue’ got to do with Global Warming? You and I need to demand that our government do something about climate change now; and fracking is far from the solution. Tens of thousands of UK citizens each year die as a result of pollution in our cities.

    In the big picture money is at the bottom of the pile.

  7. Absolute nonsense Waffle. If you want to virtue signal you will do so, but the majority of the population get on with their lives. Many are struggling with everyday expenses and will make up their own minds whether they want/can afford to pay more for the cost of living.

    They certainly do not like that being imposed upon them by a minority. They know this country will continue to use gas for many years to come because energy demand increases will balance introduction of alternatives. They can work out that local supply is better than insecure supply from thousands of miles away. That’s why many support farm shops. If you want to change the economics of transport costs (and emissions), currency fluctuations and taxation revenue then you might stand a chance arguing against money. Good luck with that, it is not possible. Tens of thousands of UK citizens also die every year as a result of energy poverty.

    But obviously safe, cost effective output for fracked UK gas has to be established. I would suggest you pin your hopes on that not being achieved rather than the economic nonsense that has been put forward so long on this site. I shouldn’t offer advice, but here goes. The real economics could be established quite quickly. Be careful.

    • It is unfortunate that a conscience- inspired response to some of the trivial comments appearing on this site should inspire such crass characterisation as ‘virtue signalling’. I fear this post will arouse similar reactions from some.

      More than four years ago our attention was drawn for the first time to the question of fracking. A well was proposed within a few miles of our homes, and filmed reports of what fracking was doing to communities in for example Pennsylvania horrified many, as did our discovery that the government-industry axis was happy to ‘spin’ the truth in pursuit of its goal – profit. Many of us then immersed ourselves in the subject, reading widely the arguments for and against, and discovered slowly that concerns for one’s locality were as nothing compared to those of many, informed by their research, who feared for humanity, starting with the weakest who would first experience sea level rise, desertification, the failure of agriculture and loss of their home They feared for the earth which would lose its diversity, lose its forests – half of them gone in 60 years, experience the loss of its species – 140,000 a year, become regularly subject to extreme weather conditions – floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, unparalleled heatwaves; for the oceans and its warming killing off the coral reefs, melting the glaciers; for social cohesion; for water and the air, for health, for migratory trends, – an estimated 50m climate refugees to date – for peace, if this mindless drift, (which became a dash), towards a new generation of fossil fuels was to continue uncontested. It slowly became clear that humans through their activities, primarily the exploitation of fossil fuels, had made such an impact on the environment that they were undermining the conditions for life. This drive did not just threaten the target of keeping global warming to a maximum of, at that time 2 degrees above pre- industrial levels but rendered it impossible to attain. Commercial success at any one local well would lead to a proliferation of wells throughout the UK and by example elsewhere. The effects on climate change were clear.
      For Christians such as myself our duty is to “Hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (Laudato Si’ 49). It had become clear that neither the poor nor the earth were the real concern of those determining not just the policies of our own country but those of the Northern hemisphere, although sufficient lip service was paid to both to assuage the consciences of voters.

      It is against this background that I viewed Claire Perry’s July decision to grant Cuadrilla final permission to frack at PNR with dismay. Government’s implicit trivialisation of the subject, of the well documented concerns of many distinguished scientists, and of the oft manifested democratic will of those of the public who bothered to state their informed opinions was clear. And now Cuadrilla will go ahead.

      No attention had been paid to the disparity between the selfish desire for the perceived national benefit and the enormity of the threat a new UK fossil fuel industry would constitute for the planet. Nor had the link been acknowledged between our and the planet’s migration problems on the one hand, and on the other, the fossil-fuel -driven climate change largely responsible for it.

      Indeed, our politicians’ inability to get to grips with the issues is egregious. This is understandable to an extent given the size of the problem and yet we have had ample warning. Seldom has it been more urgent to accept that procrastination robs us of the time we need to acknowledge and address these issues, not piecemeal but in their totality, accepting that it is the current economic model which, permitting of no solution, needs action, painful though it will be.

      Those of us opposed to fracking on conscientious grounds would appreciate an attempt at understanding from those who cannot easily grasp what we are saying. In the meantime,we hope.

  8. Sure, lots of money to be had on a dead planet. Short-sighted, delusional thinking and lunacy. Locally fracked gas won’t bring energy bills down as stated by the industry itself! Energy efficient homes, renewable energy and battery storage will. Investment and tax breaks for these is for a future and the longterm. Fracking is a temporary and unnecessary diversion, leaving an industrialised countryside, insecure homes and very real health and environmental impacts for the majority (supporters or not). And left with a far worse global problem when the fracking bubble pops. Far cheaper to transition properly now, it is very possible; it’s a global emergency after all, but those in power just don’t have the political will. I think you’ll find more people want a cleaner, healthier longterm future, than you think; if not for them, their future generations.

  9. Tell you what DPNP, you do some crowd funding and pay for that so the majority you want to force your dogma upon without them being able to determine whether you are right or wrong, don’t have to.

    What is transitioning properly? So far, spending some resource well and an awful lot badly in a relatively small attempt at transition.

    If you are so right, then you have nothing to worry about. Just let the tests go ahead and it will all fade away naturally. But, you are not confident enough to see that through. Very informative.

    No flying ducks Sherwulfe, they were minced with the raptors in the wind turbines.

    • ……or just sit back and have fracking forced upon you?

      ‘No flying ducks Sherwulfe, they were minced with the raptors in the wind turbines.’ – ‘out of the mouths of babes’, you do my job for me, MC…..

    • I don’t need to MC. Community owned onshore wind turbines and decentralised solar powered self-sufficiency is often crowdfunded and invested in. Look at Ethex to discover that yourself. However, in the current corporatised, authoritarian climate, government is taking away the FIT which was helping people transition to renewables. Instead they are abolishing it next April to give taxpayers money away propping up a temporary, parasitic fracking industry; not a great help too bill payers. If anything you are forcing your increasingly flaky fracking dictatorship on a public who don’t want it, wherever the propaganda circus turns up.

      Democratising the energy generation by decentralisation, for and by local communities, isn’t something the big energy companies want is it? Less money for them if people own their production through renewables. Of course, the quickest way to save money is switching to much cheaper green energy companies than the big 6, like Bulb, Pure Planet, Octopus Energy (largest investor in UK solar apparently), Solarplicity and Tonik Energy. All you have to do is go to the USwitch comparison site online, that’s a good start. I saved £300 over a year switching from British Gas and EDF to Tonik Energy and great customer service and easy online bill management. Solarplicity now as they had a slightly cheaper fixed tariff in Sept.

  10. Very virtuous DPNP! Yes, we can all do a bit but don’t do so and then quote nonsense. If you take the only authentic survey of the public there was a minority, around one third, who don’t want fracking and of this one third, a high proportion who were not well informed on the subject.

    So carry on with your virtue signalling. You are doing your bit, well done. But do not claim that the majority are with you, because they are not. [edited by moderator] The antis have not managed to make progress much above the one third for a long time. Maybe that will occur if the tests are unsuccessful but maybe it will go the other way if they are. As Claire Perry states in the spread today, “if people are asked to accept the science regarding climate change why shouldn’t they accept the science regarding fracking?” (Not word for word, but a summary.) Please don’t quote lots of over there twaddle, because there are lots of over there examples where fracking has been conducted well and produced good results. So, we will see in the UK whether it can be done well and safely, and if it is it will help replace some of the huge quantities of gas we will continue to import in spite of your good efforts or mine.

    • Don’t mention it MC, you asked about methods of transition, so I gave you some free money-saving advice without charge. There was no premeditated notion of that now haggard old phrase, “virtue signalling”, as if that had some sort of mystical pejorative, undermining power, when thrown at someone. If that means “virtue signalling” then I am quite happy to own it. It’s been copied with ineffectual tedium ever since that simpleton in The Spectator used it and disingenuously claimed he invented it, when he typically stole it from someone else. It has been thrown about as some sort of triumph, when it is just desperate attempts to silence the evidential facts regarding the way we are abusing the planet to our detriment.

      Do you think the majority would prefer renewable gas over fossil fuels when it also helps get rid of inedible food and agricultural waste, thus reducing pollution and landfill? Much better to have a permanent virtuous circle (not virtue signalling) with Anaerobic Digestion than temporary, finite fracked gas and permanently polluting fracking fluids. Only spoke to a guy over a few pints after the football yesterday who’s already set up 2 AD plants in the SE and 1 about to happen in Northumberland. If he’s just 1 small outfit, think of how many more could get on board across the country. And there can be many more types of virtuous circle. Maybe Claire Perry should cut the strings of her puppet masters and do her job, which is working for the people, not the fossil fool industry. Maybe she and he co-conspirators could stop effectively banning onshore wind for the majority that want it instead of forcing fracking on those who don’t. Just a few helpful actions to hasten the transition amongst many more……

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