It is always a pleasure to answer a question from my mother-in-law’s MP. As he knows, we have always made it clear that any hydraulic fracturing that takes place under current licences must be consistent with our regulatory regime, including the traffic light system, which is the toughest in the world. The Preston New Road site is the most monitored site for seismic activity, and among the 36 events recorded, the 1.1 local magnitude event was the equivalent at the surface of a bag of flour being dropped to the floor.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman is looking after the Minister’s mother-in-law, because I have a feeling that he will hear about it if he is not.
Not at all. Thanks to the superb seismic monitoring and the work of some excellent students at Liverpool University, it is clear that the most significant of the micro tremors that we are seeing is the equivalent of dropping a kilogram of flour on my mother-in-law’s floor in Earlsdon and feeling the vibration from that.
We are calmly and soberly going through the process of seeing whether this potentially valuable resource that can reduce our energy dependency on imports can be exploited, but it has to be done in a way that is consistent with our world-beating and tough regulatory regime.
My right hon. Friend makes a valuable point. It is said that fracking is this new thing, but in fact we have been doing it for many years, including using it to extract oil from sites close to both of our constituencies. It is a perfectly safe technology. We have to be clear, however, that we are doing this in an environmentally sensitive way. Of course nobody wants environmental regulations that they cannot defend to their constituents, but we are going through this calmly and soberly; we have excellent science and so far the process is delivering shale gas from these very exploratory fracks, which is something we should all welcome.
I am glad the pantomime season is coming up as there is some good auditioning going on. Let me explain. I know that the hon. Gentleman is aware of the ministerial code, and I am told by my officials that when they did not disclose the meeting of