Conservative MP seeks to extend fracking moratorium to shale gas drilling

200121 Alexander Stafford 1 parliTV

Alexander Stafford, MP for Rother Valley,asking a parliamentary question, 21 January 2020. Photo: Still from Parliament TV

The new Conservative MP for the Rother Valley in south Yorkshire is calling on the government to extend its moratorium on fracking to include drilling for shale gas.

Alexander Stafford, who was elected at the 2019 election, said environment damage and disturbance of residents could be caused by exploratory drilling, as well as fracking.

He has two proposed shale gas sites in his constituency, where Ineos wants to drill and test, but has not yet applied to frack.

Mr Stafford told DrillOrDrop:

“If the purpose is to frack, there is no point in letting companies drill in this area. The moratorium should extend to exploratory drilling for shale gas.

“To my mind there is no business case. If you cannot frack I do not see why you would want to drill. It would be madness.”

“I hope they will not go ahead. Exploratory drilling can cause huge damage and disturbance to local residents and the environment.

“We want to make sure this does not happen.”

The MP, the first Conservative ever to represent Rother Valley, asked a series of parliamentary questions last month which sought to  clarify the government’s position on the moratorium.

Replying to the questions, the energy minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, said the government had no plans to review the moratorium. Its position would be “maintained unless compelling new evidence is provided which addresses the concerns around the prediction and management of induced seismicity”, he said.

The minister also confirmed that only operations which met a strict definition of fracking were covered by the moratorium.

His answer made it clear that the moratorium did not apply to operations, such as drilling, injection of acid or fracking with volumes of liquid below the threshold in legislation.

Mr Stafford said:

“The answers set out the government’s position in a bit more detail. There is more clarity that they are against fracking and they want to make sure that fracking does not happen.

“I want to make sure that other negative effects, from exploratory drilling, don’t happen either.

“I want to meet the minister to press that case.  It is not just the fracking process. It is all the other environmental damage from drilling.”

190502 Harthill Dod4

Ineos shale gas site at Common Road, Harthill, 2 May 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Mr Stafford visited the Ineos site at Harthill site with villagers who had campaigned against it. He said:

“You see how close it is to beautiful fields and agricultural land. It will be a blight on the lives of people living in Harthill.

“I was driven round the roads that the lorries will take – and they are country lanes. We were in a small car and we had to stop frequently to give way for oncoming traffic.

“I was struck by the number of bicycles, people on horseback and walkers, enjoying nature and the environment.

“I cannot imagine what it will be like if you have hundreds of lorries on these roads. It will have a detrimental effect on the amenity of the village and the well-being of the people living there.

“I fear for people who want to use these roads. This is not an appropriate site. One person has a kitchen right next to the road. The pollution of diesel engines in the area will be a disaster.”

Ineos has done no site work at Harthill but it has submitted a construction management plan for approval to Rotherham Borough Council. The plan sets out how Ineos will build 23 passing places on 4.3km of the lorry route.

Mr Stafford said:

“I think it is disgusting that the parking spaces are being cut into the hedgerows. There are deer, bats, dormice in this area. It will have an impact on biodiversity.

“These laybys are not for local traffic. These convoys will force residents and small business people into the side of the road.”

The other Ineos shale gas site in the Rother Valley, at Woodsetts, is waiting for a decision on planning permission. The local government secretary, Robert Jenrick, will decide on the scheme on or before 8 April 2020.

DrillOrDrop invited Ineos to respond to Mr Stafford’s comments.

Harthill Against Fracking said:

“As a group we will not take our eye off the ball. We will keep fracking in the public domain and keep pressure on the government to honour the moratorium.”

11 replies »

  1. Hahaha…. this wouldn’t be the same Alexander Stafford who used to work as External Relations Adviser of Oil and Gas firm,
    Shell Exploration and Production!

    Nothing like having your cake and eating it!

    “ There are deer, bats, dormice in this area. It will have an impact on biodiversity”. Like humans they will will travel”! That’s called increased use of land!
    England is overpopulated, and the anti’s don’t own the land which is being drilled so to be honest they have no say on what happens to it!
    What do you say about an Englishman From (Stafford) and his castle!

    • ‘the anti’s don’t own the land which is being drilled so to be honest they have no say on what happens to it!’

      Incorrect statement according to a secret Government report which states,

      “Industry and government blamed public opposition to fracking for the slow progress of the UK shale gas industry, according to a secret official report finally released”


      However things are moving on . The industry has spent £270,000,000, core staff have been laid off, a moratorium is in place with no way to get it lifted been offered, and more recently the major investor Riverstone has bugged out. Still no gas.

      Looks like ‘slow progress’ has slowly progressed to ‘dead stop’

    • But Eli people that do not own the land do have a say in what happens to it, that is how our planning system works. You do not have to own land to influence decisions over its use or even obtain planning consent. And I find your comments about wildlife ignorant and glib. The UK is losing wildlife faster than any other European country so we should be doing all we can to protect it. Once common species like hedgehogs and sparrows are now threatened. Hedgerows are vitally important to many plant and animal species. Studies here and in the US have shown that animals don’t just ‘move on’. Segmentation of habitat and disturbance caused by light and noise often have profound negative impacts. And as for this MP, if he did previously work in the oil and gas sector it is not relevant. I personally know professionals that work in the offshore industry that are no fans of shale. Opposition to shale gas has increased amongst Conservative MPs as time has passed and they have learned more about it. Even some in Conservstive MPs with secure seats, that once supported the industry have now withdrawn support. Thank goodness we ive in a democracy that prevents industry and individuals being able to simply run roughshod over decisions that impact communities, the environment and wider population.

    • There are deer, bats, dormice throughout the UK!

      On the whole, land management in UK is pretty good. However, that does not mean all new housing, or construction of any sort, can not proceed.

      Interesting how wild life is so important to the antis but ignored when they disturb their sites with their noise and pollution. Interesting how it is so important but thousands of trees and countless sand lizards can be sacrificed to allow Tesla’s new German car plant. Solar farms not too bad for biodiversity-once constructed-but then the housing estates are built next door because the developers claim, and are successful in doing so, that the solar farm has opened the flood gates for development. Not so good for biodiversity.


      • And patent bollocks from DoDs most empty vessel. If you are going to talk Planning law in the UK at least have a clue what you are talking about.

      • Very true Martin. One one hand the anti’s don’t want industrialisation in the UK, but to be able to fill the gap for our energy needs. There has to be a major increase in another countries industrialisation. Hence increase in employment, tax wealth and prosperity! The strangle hold the anti’s hold on to the UK astounds me… Wildlife is great and free, could we tax wildlife, and increase the employment within that area?

        For every action and any method to eliminate the vision for UK industrialisation! and INSTEAD enrich, employ and boost another countries economies! This the British way. The same happened to the automotive industry, utilities industries and well every industry we have ever birthed!

  2. It is absolutely the right thing to do to demand an extension of the moratorium, but it should not be limited only to shale gas drilling. If we’re talking about a fracking moratorium, it should also include drilling for shale OIL (found in the South East) and all tight formations that require well stimulation treatments (a.k.a. fracking) to enhance productivity of oil and gas wells.

    • ELI-GOTH

      …….STOP PRESS……

      Let’s get the facts right ELI-GOTH

      The person you speak of, Patrick Moore does NOT represent Greenpeace….. He has been nothing more than a PAID LACKEY of a number Highly Polluting Industries for more than 30 years .

      TAKE NOTE…….. Patrick Moore is NOT the co-founder of Greenpeace

      Take a read of the link below to find out what shameful little man Patrick Moore is.


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