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Report (3rd Day)

Part of Infrastructure Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 10th November 2014.

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Photo of Baroness Worthington Baroness Worthington Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) 7:15 pm, 10th November 2014

My Lords, I rise briefly to ask the Minister for her comments on the issue of devolution and fracking. I am particularly interested in the Scottish question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Wigley. As I understand it, Holyrood already controls planning permission and the permitting regime, so it would not be a huge step to devolve this aspect of the control of fracking and rights of access. I just ask that question.

I am also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, for drawing the attention of the House to the fact that, when we talk about these provisions and rights of access, they apply to more than just the extraction of petroleum. Indeed, they apply to deep geothermal, which arguably needs the loophole to be changed more urgently than in the case of fracking for oil and gas. It may change the view of the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, on this that you can frack for coal as well. Fracking of deep-mine coal might bring a degree of economic development back to Wales. I am not saying that that is the only way that Wales should develop; I am much more interested in some of the marine technologies, biomass and wind in a Welsh context—those seem to have huge potential. However, I would never rule out the idea that deep coal mining could come back as an economic activity if done in combination with carbon capture and storage.

In summary, these clauses potentially relate to more than just oil and gas extraction, and I am interested in the noble Baroness’s response on the Scottish question.