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Fracking Ban Bill 2018

Amanda Stockley

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Thank you Mr. Speaker, 


I beg to move that the bill be now read a second time. Mr. Speaker: before you lies a seemingly small bill, but it is one long in the making. Today, we are committing to our manifesto pledge to finally enshrine the ban on fracking in law. The bill is based on a simple premise: we will revoke any outstanding permits, and ban the production of fracked shale gas and oil by 2021. It shall be the authority of the Department to enforce this ban, and we plan to deliver.


Mr. Speaker: when hydraulic fracturing of shales started back in 1965 in the US, nobody was at the time aware of the environmental impact it would have in terms of both its pollution and the stability of the soil. But after decades of substantial research across the world, the consensus is that fracking is becoming an increasingly dangerous and climate change-accelerating practice.


That is why, following in the footsteps of our fellow devolved administrations in Wales and Scotland, we are announcing today that the moratorium on fracking will be transformed into a permanent legislation that bans hydraulic fracturing for the whole of the United Kingdom.


There are many reasons as to why we are taking action on fracking. Much of these are directly related to the methods used. Mr. Speaker, as you know, I am a chemist at heart. But the type of chemicals that are used in the process of fracking is quite frankly appalling. Let me assure you, it is like seeing how some kinds of food is made: if you knew, you wouldn’t let anybody near it. And there is much research on the dangers of leaking: fracking can contaminate surface water, air, and soil.

And moreover, the sheer use of water for fracking is telling as well: between 4.5 and 13 million litres for operations per well. That is the consumption of 33 thousand people per day! The problem with the water, as you can see, is twofold: first we take potable water - yes, fracking needs drinking water to work - from the people, and then we pollute their sources of groundwater as a result.


But water is the first problem: the second, and most important, is pollution. In a time where we are committing to Net-zero, and we need to decrease our reliance on natural gas and oil, it seems counterproductive that we want to increase gas and oil production through fracking. Because the CO2 emissions of fossil fuels is a main cause for greenhouse gas emissions.


But fracking also brings another dangerous gas: methane. Research has shown that methane emissions from fracked wells happen more often than first assumed. Methane is far more potent than CO2, so we definitely do not want that build up in our atmosphere. And there are even more dangerous emissions: methylene chloride, which is outright toxic, and naphthalene - yes, the toxic compound banned from use in mothballs. 


Lastly, there is the seismic problem: fracking actively destabilised the soil. There is enough evidence for that. Just look at the microearthquakes in Canada and the US. And then the noise: fracking is notoriously noisy, and in the UK, if we were to allow it, there are many communities that will live close to those installations. And we do not want that at all.


These communities, our constituents, are why we are implementing this ban. Nobody in the United Kingdom wants it. At its peak in 2014, fracking was supported by only 30%. Last year, this had decreased to 13%. This is evident: people are trusting science, who are increasingly telling us that fracking is dangerous. And who are we, as a government - and me as a scientist myself - to ignore the call of scientists around the country who are advising us not to do fracking? No. The message is clear: stop fracking now.


Mr. Speaker, we on these benches are clear. This ban will put the minds of our constituents at ease; will commit ourselves to net-zero by 2040 and to renewables as an alternative; and fulfil our promise to our voters. I beg to move.

Labour MP for Manchester Blackley (1970-present)

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Mr. Speaker,

I rise today in stark opposition to the shoddily-drafted, top-down proposal that the Government is attempting to foist onto the British people. You see, Mr. Speaker, a ban on hydraulic fracturing, known commonly as "fracking," would mean an effective ban on Britain's medium-term energy potential - leaving us at the hands of petrostates in the Middle East and an increasingly aggressive Russian Federation.

The shale revolution has been a major contributor to America's significant energy reversal in recent years. This cannot be understated: an energy importer is well on its way to becoming a major exporter of energy. They took advantage of an easy-to-access supply-side reform and have seen great amounts of growth in previously underpopulated regions of their country. Now, the American energy situation and ours here in Great Britain aren't identical - but the near- to mid-term solutions that we can unlock are similar.

We have the technical prowess to pursue our own shale revolution right here in the United Kingdom. But this Labour Government would rather tie the hands of planning authorities by outright banning new development. And, Mr. Speaker, from the way the bill before us is drafted, I am concerned that any new pipelines, natural gas storage, or other oil and natural gas would be expressly prohibited. If this Government's desire is to shackle the traditional British energy industry, they should have come out and said so. Instead, we have this bill which, under faulty pretenses, aims to enforce Net Zero targets not decades down the road, but in the immediate near term.

Even the most rabid climate activists should recognize that Britain's net emissions are falling - and falling precipitously. While nations like China and India are pumping more and more pollutants into the air, the British people are being told by this Labour Government that affordable and accessible energy today is a price too high. The public are being told that we must cut off our nose to spite our face - all the while other nations are getting ahead and laughing at us.

Now, the Rt. Hon. Secretary from Birmingham Perry Bar may have a PhD, but that doesn't mean she's qualified to shut down a sizeable swathe of our economy. And make no mistake: that is what this bill would do. I direct you, Mr. Speaker, to Section 3(2), where currently-permitted projects and installations shall be forced to immediately cease operations - for who knows how long!

I have grave concerns with this type of anti-growth, anti-British command-and-control type of edict that is being considered here today. As I have illustrated, it would impede future energy storage and infrastructure that we need in times such as these. And it would force businesses to layoff workers, all the while making everyday goods more expensive for the average Briton.

A sensible scientific approach, one that the Rt. Hon. Secretary might take a cue from would be to study the issue in-depth - and really evaluate whether the hypothetical water, pollutant and erosion concerns outweigh the real, tangible benefits of a British energy resurgence. Instead of looking carefully at the issue from a true cost-benefit perspective, the worst instincts of old Labour have come out with a vengeance: telling Britain what it cannot do.

We need a Government that doesn't proscribe future outcomes, but which empowers everyday citizens to make the most of their future. This Labour Government has failed that test, once again.

Thomas Randolph (Conservative MP for New Forest West since 2010)

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