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Fracking Ban Bill 2018


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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 Birmingham Perry Barr (2010-present)

Secretary of State for Energy and Infrastructure (2017-present)

For a Green Britain!

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