Labour's position on unconventional hydraulic fracturing for shale gas 'fracking' has been unclear. Chuka Umunna at Labour Conference Sept 2014 was asked "What is Labour's position on 'fracking?' His response was then "we do not directly oppose 'fracking' but are concerned and extremely cautious over any environmental impacts."
On Monday 26th January the Labour Party will mark its position as follows, source: Labour Press: 'Labour has tabled an amendment to prevent fracking in the UK unless 13 outstanding loopholes in the regulation are closed. Labour first set out its conditions for fracking to take place in March 2012, but the Government has repeatedly sidelined genuine and legitimate concerns, ignoring gaps in the regulatory framework.
Caroline Flint MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, commenting after the publication of Labour’s new amendment to the Infrastructure Bill, said: “David Cameron has repeatedly ignored people’s genuine and legitimate environmental concerns over shale gas. Despite clear evidence that existing regulations for shale gas are not fit for purpose, the Government seems prepared to push ahead with fracking at any cost.
“While eight out of 10 homes still rely on gas for heating, shale gas may have a role to play in displacing some of the gas we currently import and improving our energy security. But that potential benefit cannot come at the expense of robust environmental protections or our climate change commitments.”
Tom Greatrex MP, Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister, said: “Labour have always said that shale gas extraction cannot go ahead unless there is a system of robust regulation and comprehensive inspection. The Tories have belatedly acknowledged that the current regulations are inadequate, conceding to Labour pressure for reform on a small number of issues. But these piecemeal concessions cannot overturn a Tory mindset which is zealously opposed to any further regulation of shale gas in the UK, despite clear evidence that this is necessary... There are significant concerns about independent inspection of well-integrity, fugitive emissions and protections for national parks. Labour will force a vote on Monday to prevent shale gas developments in the UK unless these loopholes are closed.”
The text of the new amendment reads:
To move the following Clause—
“Hydraulic fracturing: necessary conditions
Any hydraulic fracturing activity can not take place:
a) unless an environmental impact assessment has been carried out;
b) unless independent inspections are carried out of the integrity of wells used;
c) unless monitoring has been undertaken on the site over the previous 12 month period;
d) unless site-by-site measurement, monitoring and public disclosure of existing and future fugitive emissions is carried out;
e) in land which is located within the boundary of a groundwater source protection zone;
f) within or under protected areas;
g) in deep-level land at depths of less than 1,000 metres;
h) unless planning authorities have considered the cumulative impact of hydraulic fracturing activities in the local area;
i) unless a provision is made for community benefit schemes to be provided by companies engaged in the extraction of gas and oil rock;
j) unless residents in the affected area are notified on an individual basis;
k) unless substances used are subject to approval by the Environment Agency
l) unless land is left in a condition required by the planning authority, and
m) unless water companies are consulted by the planning authority.”
- Labour first set out necessary regulatory conditions for shale gas in March 2012: http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/opinion/2157329/absolutist-position-shale-gas
- At Committee Stage of the Infrastructure Bill, we won a number of concessions from Government:
Operators will have to disclose the contents of the frack fluid on a well-by-well basis
Baseline levels of methane in the groundwater will be assessed prior to any activity
Trade association Water UK will be a statutory consultee in the planning process.
In my opinion this does not go far enough; eg 'notified' not 'consulted' with too much reliance on the Environment Agency and other bureaucrats rather than 'public consultation' followed by local resident referendums.
The Parliamentary vote on Monday may be too close to call with former Tory Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman 'called for a ban on fracking in the UK ahead of a report by an influential committee of MPs that is expected to conclude fracking could derail efforts to tackle climate change' source: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/22/ban-fracking-says-for... - local MP Anne McIntosh gets a shout in too. On the other hand many Tories have investments in oil and gas companies hoping to exploit and or explore shale gas potential and will follow Cameron's gung ho approach to what could be an energy source potential if robust regulations were in place, and in the right place, erm .. say Scotland or Kent. :-)
With the Green Party's membership surging on the back of the anti-fracking front, the new 'fracking' frontline of Yorkshire could well become the focus of Greenpeace who are rallying for support for a 'fracking moratorium' on Monday:
- When: Monday 26 January 2015 from 12:30pm
- Where: Old Palace Yard, opposite the House of Lords
- Speakers: Bianca Jagger, Caroline Lucas MP, John Ashton, Julian Huppert MP, Vivienne Westwood
- Organisers: Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace UK, 38 Degrees, The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Occupy Democracy, Reclaim The Power, Climate Revolution
- Programme: Speeches from 1:00pm, and petition hand-in at 2.15pm
With some groups calling for an outright UK ban on 'fracking', for others, and it would seem, the Labour Party, much more information is needed; perhaps more facts could be found here:
A three day conference March 17-19th, 2015 on 'fracking' is being held by ASME - The Executive Advisory Committee for ASME Hydraulic Fracturing includes senior members from Shell Exploration & Production, Draper Laboratory/Cambridge Research and Technology LLC, Baker Hughes, BP Exploration, GE Oil & Gas, Marathon Oil, Schlumberger , Southwestern Energy, U.S. Well Services and ASME. see here: https://www.asme.org/events/hydraulic-fracturing-conference
Having followed the LSE/IGAS board with much 'amusement' - cheers guys! Any position on 'fracking' in the UK, and in Europe, not only needs to take into consideration the geopolitical context and the emerging 'energy crisis' (ps low oil prices will not put a halt to fracking and imho is indeed the 'green light' for fraccing and other alternative energy sources, carbon, fossil fuel based and renewable), Also I would like to see more context put on 'when' the lights go out ... not 'if' the lights go out, and the impacts on Nursing Homes, Hospitals, Schools etc etc .... as I once said meeting opposition to Wind Turbines (Hunmanby), cut the electrcicty off for three weeks and then see how 'opinion' changes ... but 'we' are not allowed to say or do that...
Anyhow, frankly I don't give a damn about what Bianca Jagger, Vivienne Westwood et al have to say about fracking .... and f*ck' the House of Lords ... a ticket to ASME has to be a must for any serious fracking contender.
"If its not viable, we won't do it" AA (Igas) - and its not viable in North Yorkshire so - do one :-)
btw All that distillery nonsense in Scotland - they 'frack' for Malt ... don't they?