Election scuppers MPs’ inquiry into fracking costs

190211 PAC1

From left: Emily Bourne, Alex Chisholm and Andy Samuel giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee, 11 February 2019. Photo: Parliament TV

An investigation by MPs into shale gas development and fracking regulation has been put on hold because of the election.

The cross-party Public Accounts Committee had announced it would question civil servants about last week’s official report, which found that government was unclear about the costs, benefits and liabilities of fracking.

But yesterday’s Commons vote for an election means parliament is likely to be dissolved next week. The hearing, planned for November, could now be shelved entirely or postponed until 2020.

It was due to discuss the findings of the National Audit Office (NAO) report, which also concluded that progress in establishing an English shale gas industry was slower than government had predicted and that public opposition had increased in the past six years to 40%.

191028 PAC investigation on fracking

Public Accounts Committee proposed investigation on fracking sunk by election called on 29 October 2019

The Public Accounts Committee had said representatives from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEID), the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) and the Environment Agency would give evidence on 13 November 2019.

The investigation’s web page referred to issues that could be addressed, including public concerns about earth tremors and environmental regulations, impacts of fracking on climate change and the financial pressures on local authorities, police forces and regulators. Members of the public had been invited to send a submission to the committee.

A spokesperson for the Public Accounts Committee said a decision on whether the hearing would go ahead be taken by the new members after the 12 December election.

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Hearing of the Public Accounts Committee on fracking, 11 February 2019. Photo: Parliament TV

The last time officials from BEIS and the OGA were questioned about fracking by the committee, the chair, Labour’s Meg Hillier, described their answers about responsibility for decommissioning as “a bit vague”.

Another member of the committee, the Conservative MP Lee Rowley, said he was disappointed that officials had been unable to give clear answers on questions around liability for clean up costs.

Mr Rowley, who opposes plans by Ineos to explore for shale gas at Marsh Lane in his North East Derbyshire constituency, said the NAO report was “helpful in highlighting the problems with our fracking framework and how fracking will be done”. He said:

“It’s reports like this that actually demonstrate in detail why fracking has lost the support of the UK and why it’s not the place to go for our future energy needs.”

Categories: Politics

9 replies »

  1. Harry Barnes

    Maybe, but even if so I suspect that the same type of enquiry could be convened to cover issues around conventional onshore fossil fuel extraction, especially clarity as to who carries the liability for restoration should a ltd liability company go bust.

    The answer to the second question is … the gov, but it will take a while for the gov to get round to agreeing that, tho it has been and is the case since the gov nationalised the resource in the ground.

  2. It could indeed Harry!

    It could also provide a Tory majority, who could encourage, discourage or ban UK fracking.

    But, even those in the Fylde don’t seem to believe it will be an issue which determines the result, so is unlikely to be more than a space filler in any manifesto.

    • On the Fylde It all depends who fight’s the election against the Tory candidate whoever he is. Surely the Cuadrilla fracking induced August Bank Holiday Monday 2.9 Richter Scale will have woken even the residents of the Fylde to reality?

      If they again vote for a Tory candidate they will again be voting for Fracking the Fylde!

      Didn’t work out very well for Fylde residents following the last General election that’s for sure!

    • Brilliant! A bloke who lives down South and doesn’t know that Chorley is not on the Fylde offers his appraisal of the political lie of the land for the constituency.

      ‘arse from elbow’ sprngs to mind when summerisng Mr Collyer’s input to the debate. File under pure conjecture!

  3. I thought all of Lancashire voted Brexit?? (I know that is not true, but you can work it out.)

    Suspect that may still be the key issue.

    But don’t let it bother you, Pavlova, that I used to work in Leyland, so my arse and elbow were placed there.

    (Welcome back. See you have maintained your charm.)

    Perhaps some have always lived and worked in one place, perhaps others have not.

    • I call BS because if you had worked in Leyland you would know were Chorley was. Keep up the not so good work Walter Mitty.

  4. The reality is that the Tory incumbent will be campaigning on being opposed to fracking the Fylde.

    So will his opponents – Lab, Lib-Dem or Green. Fracking is not the issue on which the Tory will fight the election and win, which is a given, frankly, so don’t get your hopes up.

    Keep an eye on developments, though, re government turn-round on fracking expected shortly.

  5. At last I agree with you Alan!

    But interesting that the subject was raised by an MP from Southampton today. Wonder if he knows arse from elbow?

    This would be the same Southampton which enjoys geothermal energy??


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