We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Report (3rd Day)

Part of Infrastructure Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 7:45 pm on 10th November 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Worthington Baroness Worthington Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) 7:45 pm, 10th November 2014

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for tabling his amendment and for continuing the discussion that we started in Committee. I am sympathetic to the intention behind these amendments and am particularly interested in the aspect of liability arising from orphaned sites. We are talking about a potential new industry that will see a large number of distributed sites developed. We may well see smaller companies that perhaps do not have the assets or deep pockets of more traditional extractive companies, and there would be considerable potential for orphaned sites. I am very interested to hear from the Minister how we would address any liability arising from such orphaned sites.

I think my noble friend Lord Whitty said that he is seeking for the Government to demonstrate foresight. It strikes me that the Government are demonstrating foresight in some respects of fracking, in imagining the future benefits and future economic wealth that will come. Over the weekend, we even heard comments about the imagined spending of all this great tax revenue. We shall debate that aspect shortly. That foresight is possible, but perhaps we should apply it in the slightly more realistic context of learning from previous experiences of extractive industries in trying to plan for what happens if everything does not go according to plan. I would have thought that companies would be able to take out insurance against some of these liabilities. Again, I would be interested to hear from the Minister about what type of insurance she might expect companies to undertake and what liabilities would be insured. We are entering uncharted territory in the types of company, the types of project and their distribution across the country. It is right that we should proceed with caution.

There is a lot of merit in the amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Whitty. He started by saying that he was trying to help out the Government. A number of us have tried to help out the Government during tonight’s debate. However, I suspect that the Government are not listening and do not want to be helped out, but there we are. I look forward to the comments from the Minister in response to this amendment.