Labour’s bid to ban fracking in England was defeated in parliament this afternoon. The party’s amendment to the Environment Bill was rejected by 357 votes to 216.
The amendment sought to prevent the issue of consents for associated hydraulic fracturing. It applied to operations that met the definition of fracking in the Infrastructure Act. But it also added a ban on the use of acid intended to dissolve rock.
During a debate on the measure, the anti-fracking Conservative MP, Lee Rowley (North East Derbyshire), said there was no need for a ban:
“Fracking is over, the battle is won. This industry has packed up. It is gone.”
He described the amendment as a “shoddy attempt to play political games”. He said it would cause “unnecessary worry” to people in his constituency, where Ineos has planning permission to explore for shale gas.”
The shadow environment minister, Ruth Jones, said:
“This bill, this debate today and this moment was the government’s chance to tell the fracking companies your time is up. But given the choice between something bold or doing nothing at all, we know what DEFRA [the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] and the secretary of state always goes for.”
She said the definition of moratorium was “a temporary ban” and she told Mr Rowley:
“if he wants to actually ban fracking for ever more, he should vote with us on our amendment.”
A written ministerial statement in November 2019 said the government would take a presumption against issuing further hydraulic fracturing consents.
The junior environment minister, Rebecca Pow, said:
“This sends a clear message to the sector and to local communities that fracking on current evidence will not be taken forward in England the moratorium will be maintained unless compelling new evidence is provided which addresses the concerns around the prediction and management of induced seismicity. Such evidence has yet to be presented and the moratorium remains.”
Labour’s Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) said every fracking application was “a huge environmental concern” and caused anxiety for local people. She asked:
“when will the minister listen and finally take action. Now is our chance, once and for all, to tell the fracking companies that time’s up and put the future of the planet and our community first.”
Barry Gardiner, a former shadow energy secretary, said fracking risked leaving taxpayer with the cost of stranded assets.
Claudia Webb, (Independent, Leicester East), said: “Big polluters must be held responsible for their actions. Fracking is bad for people and the environment. Therefore we must ban it.”
- The business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, told MPs yesterday: “On fracking, I was very pleased, as Minister of State, to impose a moratorium on it. The language that we used at the time was that it was going to be evidence-focused and scientifically based. There is no new evidence to suggest that we should end the moratorium, so it stays—no more fracking.”