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Unconventional Oil and Gas Exploration

Energy and Climate Change – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 19th March 2015.

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Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee 9:30 am, 19th March 2015

What recent representations he has received on the application of regulations on onshore unconventional oil and gas exploration; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Portsmouth, The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

We receive a wide variety of representations on onshore unconventional oil and gas, and we always listen carefully to the views expressed.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

The current regulations that apply to unconventional oil and gas exploration onshore have not yet been properly tried and tested. The protections given to national parks, sites of special scientific interest and areas of outstanding natural beauty were withdrawn in the Lords. Given that the regulations will not be published until July, what is the legal position on protections in or under national parks as regards any application that may be submitted this month?

Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Portsmouth, The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

The legal protections are in the Infrastructure Act 2015, which my hon. Friend played a role in shaping as it went through this House. I want to pay tribute to her for her long service in this House for her constituents: she has been unending in her determination to support them. I would say that anybody looking to propose a development of unconventional oil and gas ought to act as though the provisions of the Infrastructure Act were in place. There will be a period before they are formally implemented, but we need to ensure that development continues in the assured and careful manner provided for in the Act.