Fracking Week in Westminster: ban added to Queen’s Speech amendments and ministers go shy on shale

palace of westminster

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

Three Labour MPs are seeking to add a ban on fracking to the Queen’s Speech.

Faisal RAshid

Faisal Rashid

Faisal Rashid (Warrington South), Gordon Marsden (Blackpool South) and Danielle Rowley (Midlothian) have tabled an amendment to the government’s legislative programme.

The amendment reads:

“At end add ‘but respectfully regret that there were no proposals to ban hydraulic fracturing contained in the Gracious Speech; and calls on the Government to bring forward legislative proposals to ban hydraulic fracturing with immediate effect.’”

It is due to be discussed on Monday (21 October 2019), along with amendments on climate change, a referendum on Brexit, TV licences for pensioners, the NHS and improvements to living standards.

Mr Rashid, who introduced the amendment, tweeted:

“Since fracking began, we have seen record-breaking earthquakes in the North West. Local people don’t want it – only large oil and gas companies do.

“That’s why I have tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech today seeking to ban all UK fracking with immediate effect.”

Update: The Queen’s Speech debate was delayed on Monday 21 October by Brexit business. It was due to be debated on Wednesday 23 October and then added to the order paper for Thursday 24 October. The amendment was not chosen for debate by the speaker.

No replies to fracking questions

Jacob Rees-MoggThe leader of the house, Jacob Rees-Mogg (left), did not respond to a question about fracking from his Labour opposite number yesterday.

Valerie Vaz said:

 “We have had earthquakes, and Cuadrilla has begun removing equipment from its site. Will the Leader of the House confirm that there will be an end to fracking?”

But Mr Rees-Mogg had no answer.

Theresa VilliersThere was also no reply from the environment secretary, Theresa Villiers, to similar questions in the debate on the Environment Bill, (17 October 2019).

Shadow environment minister, Sue Hayman, asked whether Ms Villiers still personally supported fracking. The SNP’s environment spokesperson, Deidre Brock, asked “where is the ban on fracking?” And Labour’s Alex Sobel (Leeds North West) asked “Why are we not seeing a fracking ban?”

Theresa Villiers made no reference to fracking, shale gas or unconventional hydrocarbons in her speech or in responses to MPs.

The local government minister, Esther McVey, was unable to answer a written question within the usual time on the results of a consultation on making shale gas exploration permitted development.

No assessment on fracking impact on insurance

In a written question, Chi Onwurah, the shadow energy minister, asked what assessment the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) had made on the effect of physical damage caused by fracking the cost and availability of home insurance for residents living nearby.

Replying on 17 October 2019, the minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, said:

“The Department has not undertaken such assessments.”

He said the regulator, the Oil & Gas Authority required fracking companies to have necessary funds or an insurance policy in place to “cover unforeseen events”. He also said landowners could bring a claim against a shale gas operator for damage.

He added the government would “set out our future approach” once it had considered the findings of an analysis by the OGA of Cuadrilla’s fracking operations.

This final section of the response was repeated in Mr Kwarteng’s reply to a written question by Labour’s Thelma Walker (Colne Valley). She asked whether BEIS had plans to review the traffic light system limits on seismic disturbance. The regulations currently require operators to pause fracking for 18 hours if tremors exceed 0.5 on the local magnitude scale.


3 replies »

  1. “necessary funds or an insurance policy in place to “cover unforeseen events”.

    Start up shale gas companies do not have necessary funds to cover the damage that fracking could cause. No insurance company would offer a comprehensive policy.

    The extent of damage from induced earthquakes is incalculable

    The reasons why are obvious.

    The industry was trying to operating under the confines of an agreed 0.5 magnitude.They were unable to do so and caused a 2.9 magnitude earthquake which sent shock waves over many kilometres in multiple directions. Cuadrilla have proven that there is no definitive link between the volumes of fluid injected and seismic activity. That means no control.

    No control means there is no limit to damage from earthquakes and therefore no limit to the potential cost of repair.

    There cannot ever be any financial system put in place that is robust enough to fully “cover unforseen events”

  2. Interesting stuff
    Tho I am left wondering which large oil and gas company wants fracking in the fylde ( Faisal Rashid ) he must have meant ‘start up shale gas companies’ and Cuadrilla is the largest, but nothing to do with oil…. and why Deirdre Brock ( SNP ) is asking ‘ where is the ban on fracking’ of Westminster when she should be asking Ms Sturgeon first.

  3. Should be interesting day, one way or another,
    Cuadrilla damaged my family home on August Bank Holiday Monday and I’m waiting for them to accept responsibility and instruct their insurance company, whoever they are, to open negotiations with my insurance company to do what we pay insurance companies to do! Which is to put the insured back in the situation they were in before the insured event happened!

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