I beg to move,
That this House
has considered use of permitted development and the nationally significant infrastructure project regime for shale gas exploration and production.
First, may I thank the Backbench Business Committee for allowing time for this important debate, which I am honoured to lead? I also thank colleagues from all parties who have turned up to contribute, even though we have had a rather long and difficult week.
This debate follows two over-subscribed Westminster Hall debates. Last October, the Government consultations on giving shale gas exploration permitted development rights and classifying sites under the national significant infrastructure regime came to an end. The Government have yet to publish their responses to those consultations and are instead choosing to push the issue into the long grass. The first two Westminster Hall debates on this subject made one thing clear: Parliament has a view and would like to be heard. The proposed measures to give shale gas exploration permitted development rights and to classify sites under the national significant infrastructure regime are a bad idea for many reasons, but I shall focus on two central points.
First, to give fracking companies access to permitted development rights under the mantle of nationally significant infrastructure deprives local communities of a voice. Secondly, and even more fundamentally, fracked fuel is a fossil fuel. To support the new development of any fossil fuel is a travesty, given that the threat of global warming should urge us all to rethink completely how we produce our energy.