The energy and clean growth minister, Claire Perry, told the House of Commons today she would go to Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site and would visit protesters.
Ms Perry was responding to a question this morning from Labour’s Barry Gardiner who asked whether she would finally visit residents living near the site.
It emerged last month that the minister had never visited a shale gas site and earlier this month DrillOrDrop reported that she had been invited four times to meet with opponents of Cuadrilla’s operations in Lancashire.
Ms Perry replied that she had been advised for security reasons to “be very careful about engaging with protesters”. She said
“I was aggressively approached by a protester who threatened to visit my home because he knew my children were home alone”.
But she said: “I would be delighted to visit Preston New Road” and she added:
“Of course, when I go, unlike some opposition members, I will make sure to visit the protestors and also those exploiting the resource to create jobs. Those of us on the Government Benches believe in jobs, not mobs.”
DrillOrDrop asked the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy when and where the incident with the protester took place.
A spokesperson said:
“Thanks for your query – we have nothing more to add to what Claire said earlier”.
Ms Perry denied there had been a change in government policy following a pause in fracking at Preston New Road. Campaigners at the site have estimated that there has been no fracking since Friday 2 November.
Replying to Labour’s Jim. Cunningham, Ms Perry replied:
“Not at all.
“We are calmly and soberly going through the process of seeing whether this potentially valuable resource that can reduce our energy dependency on imports can be exploited, but it has to be done in a way that is consistent with our world-beating and tough regulatory regime.”
She referred to a one-day study by Liverpool University which likened the 1.1ML (local magnitude) earth tremor at Preston New Road to a 1kg bag of flour dropped from waist height to the floor.
The minister also denied she had broken the ministerial code by not declaring a meeting with fracking companies in May this year.
Ms Perry said:
“the ministerial code does not require Ministers to disclose meetings that they drop in on, as opposed to host in their office. I have made it clear to my officials that any meeting ever held with anyone related to shale gas should be recorded, whether or not that is in accordance with current guidance”.