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Volume 585: debated on Thursday 4 September 2014

Shale gas, carefully extracted, offers the potential to improve the security of Britain’s energy supplies and create jobs. All onshore projects are subject to scrutiny through the planning system, the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive.

Many of my constituents are expressing concerns about fracking. If the Minister wants to take the public with him when he is dealing with energy applications, will he agree to Labour’s amendments to the Infrastructure Bill to allow baseline assessments so that people’s concerns can be assessed?

We are looking carefully at all the amendments that have been tabled to the Infrastructure Bill. In several cases, the amendments reiterate what already happens. We want to ensure that we make the most of Britain’s indigenous energy supplies in a way that is safe and secure, creates jobs and will give us better security of supply. We will consider all measures to try to do that.

Given that the UK has been producing nuclear energy safely for nearly 60 years without any major problems, does the Minister agree that, given all the safety regulation we have, there is no reason to believe that this country is not capable of extracting shale gas safely?

I have not made my mind up on fracking yet, but the information that we get is a bit like the Scottish Government’s White Paper—full of words but with no answers. Will the Minister ensure that the people of this country are fully informed about fracking and what is happening with it?

Yes. We have an intensive communication plan, and I will ensure that the hon. Gentleman is included in any future communications. I can particularly recommend to him one of the Department for Energy and Climate Change publications, which explains in clear detail exactly what fracking is, how it is safe and the regulatory structure for it. It is important to ensure that we take advantage of this indigenous and secure domestic energy supply, but in a way that is safe and secure.