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Report (3rd Day)

Part of Infrastructure Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 10th November 2014.

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Photo of Baroness Worthington Baroness Worthington Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) 7:00 pm, 10th November 2014

My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords who have contributed to this debate, which has been another interesting exchange of views on how best to get the fracking industry off on the right foot and to minimise the degree of public opposition that might arise.

I recently visited the Lake District, which is one my favourite parts of the country. I visited a mining museum and, in doing so, I realised that we often see such parts of the country as having a great value now in terms of tourism, wildlife and appreciation of scenic beauty, but that they have in previous times been quite diversely economically active and been able to accommodate different activities within the boundaries of the parks as we know them today. Therefore, I for one am not of the opinion that these special places need to be preserved in aspic but that it is about achieving the right level of balance.

That said, it is absolutely clear that, when you have a Government who say that they are all out for fracking and that it will be the silver bullet that solves all our energy needs, and slightly overhype it, you can see why people get nervous that all due consideration and care are not being taken. I shall be interested to hear the Minister’s responses to the two amendments. The second of them, Amendment 115, points to something of an inconsistency, with planning guidance having been issued for national parks and AONBs but not for other nationally significant sites. Such sites, because they tend to be smaller, more fragmented and under considerable pressure from a wide range of economic activities already, arguably deserve even greater levels of protection than those larger national parks and AONBs, which I think can accommodate economic activity within them and generate jobs and economic benefits. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response.