Baroness introduces bill to ban fracking and hydrocarbon licensing

pnr gooseneck Cuadrilla Resources

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site. Photo: Cuadrilla Resources

A peer is seeking to change the law to ban fracking and the licensing of oil and gas exploration.

Baroness Sheehan

Baroness Sheehan. Photo: House of Lords

The measures were part of a private members bill, introduced this week by the Liberal Democrat, Baroness Sheehan.

Her Petroleum (Amendment) Bill was published and given its routine first reading in the House of Lords.

The bill seeks to prohibit onshore hydraulic fracturing across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

There is currently a temporary moratorium on fracking in England, issued by the UK government in November 2019.

A minister said this week “The Government have no plans to revoke the moratorium on shale gas extraction”.

Baroness Sheehan’s measures would introduce a new section into the 1998 Petroleum Act:

“The granting of licences for onshore hydraulic fracturing and associated hydraulic fracturing is prohibited from the day on which this section comes into force”.

The bill uses the same definition of associated hydraulic fracturing as the 2015 Infrastructure Act.

It refers to hydraulic fracturing for shale or strata encased in shale, by the injection of more than 1,000 cubic metres of fluid at each stage or more than 10,000 cubic metres of fluid in total.

Under the bill, sections in the Petroleum Act on searching for petroleum in deep level land would cease to apply. It would also delete the section of the 1998 act on “safeguards” on onshore hydraulic fracturing.

Baroness Sheehan, who became a peer in 2015, also seeks to amend the 1998 Petroleum Act by removing powers to grant licences to “search and bore for and get petroleum”.

She further aims to change the main objective of the industry regulator, the Oil & Gas Authority.

This is currently to “maximise the economic recovery of UK petroleum”.

But under the bill, this would become: “to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is 100% lower than the 1990 baseline”.

The bill would prevent the extension of existing oil and gas licences unless they were compatible with this new objective.

Under the bill, the OGA must produce strategies to meet the new objective within a year. The strategies would include:

  • Phase out the extraction and use of petroleum by 2050
  • Transition plan for regions economically reliant on the petroleum industry
  • Recommendations to eliminate investment by the UK government and businesses in foreign fossil fuels.

The date for a debate and second reading of the bill has not yet been set.

Petroleum amendment bill extract

Extract from the Petroleum (Amendment) Bill

Baroness Sheehan, a former member of Richmond Borough Council, came 21st in the ballot of peers’ private members bills.

Peers’ private members bills are often used to raise awareness of an issue.

They are initially treated like those introduced by MPs in the House of Commons.

If a House of Lords private members bill gets through all its stages and is supported by an MP, it will continue to the House of Commons.

It will not have priority over Commons bills and is less likely to have time devoted to it.

Follow the progress of the Petroleum (Amendment) Bill

Full text of the bill

  • The ballot of MPs’ private members bills was held on 9 January 2020. Labour’s Mike Amesbury (Weaver Vale) was placed first. The top 20 placed bills will have their First Reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday 5 February 2020. In the 2017-2019 session of parliament, nine MPs private members bills became law.

11 replies »

  1. Sorry I missed that is she a lib dem?, so we are going to write a new bill on how we are going to fund the treasury with unicorn dust, in place of the potential income we would be able to fund the gapping hole £££££££££ of removing petroleum production from our shores…

    • elie-angry man-g: An angry man, looking at the “Baroness introduces bill to ban fracking and hydrocarbon licensing”, sees nothing but anger, and yet the “Baroness introduces bill to ban fracking and hydrocarbon licensing”, is not angry.

    • Well, they don’t have a lot to do, EG. Indeed, few of them turn up in the Commons.

      So, it can be added to the lady’s profile for her audience, but I suspect that is about all the progress it will make.

      [Edited by moderator]

  2. “The Government have no plans to revoke the moratorium on shale gas extraction”. Interesting use of hte word extraction – not commonly used I must say, I am tempted to think this could be a weasel word?!!!! Sorry all weasels, forgive me!

  3. It is a good intiative. Somewhere, sometime we have to draw the line, to curb such unabated oil n gas exploration, which damages Earth’natural balancing. Of outer n inner core. The different layers of soils, minerals , ores which are not just like that formed in hafazard manner. All these within the law of natural constitution.. If we understand this earlier the batter.

  4. It will never get through unless the Government backs it. If she is worried about new licences and climate change she should head to Norway with Tintin (Norway just awarded 69 new licences some in the Barents Sea).

    The chances of a Private Members Bill getting to Royal Assent are very low. It appears only 4 went into Law in 2017 -2019.



    I have first hand expeience of this when we tried to get a PMB through via the HOL – it fizzled out after the first or second reading, this not being helped by the death of Lord Reay who was the sponsor.


  5. On the ballot in the Commons (which is a lottery) for 20 Private Members Bills which will be dealt with on various Frtidays, is it known yet which measures the lucky MPs are opting to introduce ? The top seven are placed in the best position as they can take top places for their Bills on the seven days provided for the Second Readings of their measures. If an anti-fracking Bill was introduced and made progress, then the Government might even feel a need to head it off with their own related proposal. It has happened before. For a large outside campaign could be organised to press MPs to turn up on a Friday to support an anti-fracking Bill.

    • Hi Paul. I intended to go down the list to ask them to opt for an anti-fracking Bill. I started with Mike Amesbury but never received a reply. It is now likely to be too late to try the rest. There is a need to get past their Research Assistants who often first access e-mails and may ignore them when they are not from constituents.

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