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Report (3rd Day)

Part of Infrastructure Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 10th November 2014.

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Photo of Lord Teverson Lord Teverson Chair, The Arctic Committee 5:00 pm, 10th November 2014

My Lords, when one reads the amendment, one is clearly very favourable to it because it tries to do certain things and convey a message, which the noble Baroness is quite right about, in terms of public confidence in the fracking industry. However, sometimes in this debate we forget the amount of regulation and control that is already there. For a start, we must have the permission of the surface land owner. We need planning permission from local authorities. We need a licence from DECC from a series of auctions or allocations of those licenses and areas for that. We need the Environment Agency to approve and we need health and safety to give the go-ahead as well. That is quite substantial. When I look through the amendment a little more, I certainly agree with independent inspections and disclosure of chemicals. I am far from sure about a 12-month period for a previous record of monitoring. From discussions on this in Committee, this is not particularly seasonal and 12 months is a long time—certainly, in terms of fugitive gases, methane in particular, that is extremely important.

However, I am not sure that the Bill is the right place to ask the Committee on Climate Change to do something. In fact, I am sure the Minister could speak to the chairman of the Committee on Climate Change quite easily—maybe even after the debate—and come to an agreement on whether that was needed. I agree that maybe a report is required. It could, of course, really look only at foreign experience, while perhaps UK experience becomes far more important. We clearly cannot do that until after at least some of the exploration stage, and maybe some of the production stage, has happened. However, I agree that we need the regulation of this technology to be comprehensive, and we have a good track record in general in this area. Perhaps we need that regulation to be in one place comprehensively so that not only the industry but we as parliamentarians can understand it and, more importantly, the public can see how this all works.

So while I do not really support this amendment in its current form, I hope that the Government are working on this anyway and will bring forward, perhaps later in the Bill or in secondary legislation, a comprehensive summary and description of exactly how all these levels of regulation will work within the industry.