Fracking

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th June 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South 12:00 am, 7th June 2018

What plans his Department has to limit the environmental effect of fracking.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

DEFRA and the Environment Agency take the environmental risks associated with oil and gas exploration very seriously. We have a robust regulatory regime, drawn from global best practice and more than 50 years’ experience of regulating the onshore oil and gas industry safely in this country. The Environment Agency will issue a permit only if it is satisfied that any risks to people and the environment can be effectively managed.

Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

Given that lots of people are concerned in certain areas where fracking can happen, what is the Minister doing to hold meaningful discussions and involve them in the decision making, so that they feel that their voice has been heard?

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

As always, the hon. Gentleman asks an insightful question. Our regulatory regime currently lets local residents have their say on two stages in the environmental permitting process: when the application is received by the Environment Agency; and at the draft decision stage, before the permit is finalised. A public consultation takes place once the planning application has been permitted. On 17 May, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government set out that they would be strengthening community engagement further by consulting in due course on the potential to make pre-application consultation a statutory requirement.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Labour, Bolsover

Why does the Minister not make a statement on behalf of the Government to stop fracking altogether?

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government believe, rightly, that shale gas plays an important part in our energy mix and will be an important bridging fuel in the transition to renewable technologies.