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