New law on fracking earthquakes clears first hurdle

190319 seismicity bill Lee Rowley Parliament TV2

Lee Rowley MP introducing his bill to control fracking-induced seismicity, 19 March 2019. Photo: Parliament live TV

A parliamentary bill to limit earthquakes caused by fracking has passed its first stage unopposed today.

MPs gave a first reading to the Fracking (Seismic Activity) Bill, introduced by the Conservative Lee Rowley. It returns to the House of Commons later this week. Background

The bill aims to prevent changes to the current regulations, known as the traffic light system. This requires fracking companies to stop operations for at least 18 hours if they cause earth tremors measuring 0.5ML (local magnitude) or more.

Two shale gas companies, Ineos and Cuadrilla, have openly lobbied for the threshold to be raised because they said the regulations would make fracking commercially unviable.

Last autumn, fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site paused at least five times because of seismic activity, reportedly at a cost to the company of £94,000 a day. Operations at the site near Blackpool caused a total of 56 earthquakes.

190319 seismicity bill Lee Rowley Parliament TV1

Lee Rowley MP introducing his bill to control fracking-induced seismicity, 19 March 2019. Photo: Parliament live TV

Mr Rowley represents North East Derbyshire, which has a site at Marsh Lane earmarked by Ineos for shale gas exploration. He said fracking had not been successful in the past eight years and there was now a desire to “tweak the rules to make it more palatable”.

 “The industry has clearly indicated that it wants the limits raised, but that would be entirely inappropriate.

“We should limit fracking activity in line with the existing regulations.

“The industry signed up to those several years ago, and any change to them would bring great anxiety, distress and worry to communities such as mine.”

He told MPs:

 “fracking is controversial because it has not worked, because it is not working and because, in my view, it will not work from a practical and a community-based perspective.

“For that reason, I seek to limit in legislation the ability of seismic activity to take place over and above what the regulations already state.”

190319 seismicity bill Lee Rowley Parliament TV3

Lee Rowley MP introducing his bill to control fracking-induced seismicity, 19 March 2019. Photo: Parliament live TV

He said on Twitter that the bill was also designed to have a “better conversation” about fracking and energy supply in the Houses of Parliament.

This morning, writing in The Times, he said:

“As growing numbers of MPs realise the scale of fracking that will be needed, and the impact on nearby communities, we want to go further and see fracking abandoned in the UK altogether.

“That’s not nimbyism or being anti-business. It’s simply that, as a policy, fracking doesn’t make sense.

“Let’s stop flogging a dead horse and have a more serious conversation about our future energy supply.”

Second reading

Mr Rowley’s ten minute rule bill will be discussed again on Friday 22 March 2019.

Ten minute rule bills rarely become law because the government usually opposes them in the later stages or there is often not enough parliamentary time for debate.

According to parliamentary statistics, a total of 15 Ten Minute Rule bills have received royal assent, since 1983.

Transcript of Mr Rowley’s speech

  • The All Party Parliamentary Group on the Impact of Shale Gas, chaired by Mr Rowley, will debate the seismicity regulations at its next meeting on 2 April 2019.

Regulation of emissions

Geraint DaviesThe Labour MP for Swansea West, Geraint Davies, has introduced a private member’s bill to regulate air, water and gas emissions from fracking.

Mr Davies said

“Methane is 85% times worse than CO2 for global warming so as 5% is leaked with fracking it’s worse than coal for climate change.

“Fracking puts the environment & public health at risk, so my bill calls for gov to measure & control its impact & holds responsible companies to account.”

This bill is also scheduled to return to the House of Commons on 22 March 2019.

88 replies »

  1. The anti domestic gas keep relying on our government promise “UK gas supplies are secured”….via secured supplies from import.
    So it actually “secured imports” meaning we have to pay for it. IF we can afford it that is.
    If you are rich and can afford to pay through the nose then everything is almost secured I suppose. But still depending if the sellers are willing to sell. If they hate us then maybe they wont sell to us for any price we are obliged to pay.

      • It is a matter of cost in cash for this matter because you still use gas whether it is imported gas or domestic gas is the choice we need to make.
        There will be environmental impact on local but it is a cost for any national project and these will be minimised and compensated appropriately.

      • Exactly Pauline. I remember the Torrey Canyon. Lots of cash involved, but hugely outweighed by environmental damage.

  2. Currency transactions are really secure!

    I’m sure John will tell us where Sterling will be over the coming year, but forgive me if I fail to be convinced.

  3. Talking of lining other people’s pockets at the expense of the consumer, the Northern Irish renewable heat incentive scheme was introduced to encourage firms to switch from oil or gas to wood burning boiler. There was no cap on the subsidy which led to user’s heating empty barns. A Northern Ireland Audit Office report in July 2016 found it had been overly generous and not properly controlled or monitored. Millions of pounds were wasted.

    Also in the last year about nine small UK energy supplier have failed leading to 800,000 displaced customers. None of these firms had any connection to fracking. It seems that almost anyone could set up a company and needed minimal financial safety nets.

    • ‘ It seems that almost anyone could set up a company and needed minimal financial safety nets’ – and herein lies a problem Shalewatcher.

      Ltd company status, set up to encourage entrepreneurship and new business, has been exploited by crooks; only recently Companies House has admitted they cannot even check to see if the registered companies actually are from real addresses, a problem highlighted recently with a crypto-currency scam.

      And the larger they become the more greedy and tax evasive….mentioning no one by name?
      Or, make no revenue but still pay out huge sums to ‘directors’….
      Perhaps it is time to review the system?

      Regarding your summary of the NIRHIS, again where is the responsibility and accountability for the loss I wonder; a fault of the system, not the scheme?

      But you should not use one ‘scam’ to justify another Shalewatcher?
      An attack on a woodburner scheme does not a shale gas saviour make….
      Confront each misuse of tax payer’s money and both will be held to account.

      • I’m afraid your credibility on company matters disappeared just around the time you were claiming INEOS was in financial difficulties because it carried debt, Sherwulfe!

        Just before Sir Jim was declared UKs richest guy.

        The bigger question-will Mr.Musk be allowed to continue in any business executive capacity? Paying out huge sums to some who make no profit would still continue, but the share holders might be more protected. Understand the US financial institutions warning off investors from Tesla. Quite “alternative” so that’s different?

        “Almost three quarters of Americans believe the US economy is in good shape, the highest rating for 18 years, in a boost for President Trump as his personal ratings also set a new benchmark”. And that from CNN!!!

        “Its the economy, stupid”-still holds.

  4. Climate breakdown should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds when considering whether fracking should continue. Investment in less harmful energy sources must be our priority now. How are we ever going to keep global temperatures within manageable limits if we don’t look at the big picture?

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