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Hydraulic Fracturing

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 22nd October 2019.

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Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Conservative, North East Derbyshire

What steps her Department is taking to review the regulation of hydraulic fracturing.

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s campaign on this fracking issue. We are all concerned about the impact of recent seismic events in Lancashire. My hon Friend knows that the Government have been clear that they will support the exploration of our shale gas resources only in a safe and sustainable way. The Oil and Gas Authority is undertaking an analysis of the data from Cuadrilla’s operations and we will set out our future approach as soon as we have considered that report.

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Conservative, North East Derbyshire

I thank my right hon. Friend for his comments. Will he confirm that he will consider not just the OGA review, but feedback from constituencies such as mine that do not believe that fracking is the way forward?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

My hon. Friend is right: this is one of the top issues that come across my desk. I feel the local concern about it, and we will take that into consideration when we reach a final decision.

Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Energy)

The National Audit Office report confirms that the UK Government have not analysed the costs and benefits of fracking and do not know how much money they have actually spent supporting fracking. Governance and regulation risks remain, as well as decommissioning liabilities that need to be resolved. Is it not time that the UK Government followed the lead of the Scottish Government and decided not to support the development of unconventional oil and gas?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

As I said to my hon. Friend Lee Rowley, we will consider the Oil and Gas Authority’s report and we will look at the evidence before we reach a final decision on the issue.

Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford

Does my right hon. Friend think that it might be a good idea to leave those carbon-based fuels in the ground as a reserve for future generations in case of emergency?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

My hon. Friend knows that we are committed to a net zero carbon target. We are doing very well on renewables, and our success in that is the best way to reach the target.

Photo of Danielle Rowley Danielle Rowley Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) Climate Justice and Green Jobs

Definitely not, Mr Speaker. No offence to the hon. Gentleman.

The decisions that we take over the next year will be critical in preventing climate change from becoming irreversible. The Committee on Climate Change has said that fracking on a significant scale is not compatible with UK climate targets. It increases local air pollution, generates huge volumes of chemical waste water, causes earthquakes and is just not necessary for the UK’s energy security. Yet the Secretary of State recently reiterated her support for fracking. Given the climate emergency, will the Government reconsider and commit now to banning fracking?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

As I have said on three occasions now, we will consider the OGA report, and we will look at the evidence. We are very mindful of what local communities are saying and we will set out our future direction shortly.