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Hydraulic Fracturing

Volume 666: debated on Tuesday 22 October 2019

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s campaign on this fracking issue. We are all concerned about the impact of recent seismic events in Lancashire. My hon Friend knows that the Government have been clear that they will support the exploration of our shale gas resources only in a safe and sustainable way. The Oil and Gas Authority is undertaking an analysis of the data from Cuadrilla’s operations and we will set out our future approach as soon as we have considered that report.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his comments. Will he confirm that he will consider not just the OGA review, but feedback from constituencies such as mine that do not believe that fracking is the way forward?

My hon. Friend is right: this is one of the top issues that come across my desk. I feel the local concern about it, and we will take that into consideration when we reach a final decision.

The National Audit Office report confirms that the UK Government have not analysed the costs and benefits of fracking and do not know how much money they have actually spent supporting fracking. Governance and regulation risks remain, as well as decommissioning liabilities that need to be resolved. Is it not time that the UK Government followed the lead of the Scottish Government and decided not to support the development of unconventional oil and gas?

As I said to my hon. Friend the Member for North East Derbyshire (Lee Rowley), we will consider the Oil and Gas Authority’s report and we will look at the evidence before we reach a final decision on the issue.

Does my right hon. Friend think that it might be a good idea to leave those carbon-based fuels in the ground as a reserve for future generations in case of emergency?

My hon. Friend knows that we are committed to a net zero carbon target. We are doing very well on renewables, and our success in that is the best way to reach the target.

Definitely not, Mr Speaker. No offence to the hon. Gentleman.

The decisions that we take over the next year will be critical in preventing climate change from becoming irreversible. The Committee on Climate Change has said that fracking on a significant scale is not compatible with UK climate targets. It increases local air pollution, generates huge volumes of chemical waste water, causes earthquakes and is just not necessary for the UK’s energy security. Yet the Secretary of State recently reiterated her support for fracking. Given the climate emergency, will the Government reconsider and commit now to banning fracking?

As I have said on three occasions now, we will consider the OGA report, and we will look at the evidence. We are very mindful of what local communities are saying and we will set out our future direction shortly.