It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. My interest in this topic stems from the village of Marsh Lane in my constituency—a village of fewer than 1,000 people, who have been impacted by an application for exploratory drilling since the end of 2016. I started without any fixed view on fracking, but I stand here today to say that the proposal on permitted development and the proposal on NSIP are ludicrous and need to be stopped, and that fracking will not work in this country.
I am simply not clear from the consultation that has run over the summer about what the problem is, what we are trying to achieve, and how we will achieve it. Speaking as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on the impact of shale gas, I can say that we have heard from a significant number of people that it will be technically extremely difficult, if not impossible, to confuse the planning process in the way the Government are proposing. I urge them to withdraw the proposal immediately, as did Sir Kevin Barron—he is a friend in this regard.
I am also unclear about what, as a country, we are seeking to achieve through fracking in general. The Government have not outlined any serious objectives beyond energy security, jobs and growth, and ultimately, price reductions. They have not made clear how any of those objectives can be achieved, and none of them can be achieved unless fracking is done at a scale that requires thousands of well pads, with a well pad in every village like Marsh Lane. People will not stand for it, and the proposal needs to be stopped.