It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Geraint Davies. For me, the context of this debate is quite simply the deeply worrying issue of climate change. We face a stark choice if we are to avoid extreme and potentially unstoppable change to the climate: do we continue to develop and exploit fossil fuels, or do we leave them in the ground? It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to stop dangerous climate change if we do not leave fossil fuels, including gas, in the ground. We can and must take a more responsible and sustainable approach, and that is why we need to stop the exploitation of shale gas.
I also want to talk about the issue of local planning, which other Members have spoken about today. There have been test wells in eastern Berkshire and other parts of the south-east, as was mentioned earlier. Many residents in Reading, Woodley and the Thames valley have deep concerns about our local environment. In our area, there is a long history of concern about the effects of noise and pollution from major infrastructure projects such as the expansion of Heathrow and large-scale gravel extraction. The very last thing that residents in our part of England need is a major new environmental threat.
I am conscious of the time, but I just want to add my support for a range of other points that have been made today. In particular, I would like to support and endorse the concerns that have been expressed about the relative weakness of the planning system and about the Government’s policy on energy—particularly renewable energy—and their deeply mistaken policy of cutting the feed-in tariff and not investing in wind power, solar energy and other renewables such as the tidal power project in Swansea bay. These mistaken energy policies stand in stark contrast to the policies of many other Governments, including the last Labour Government.