Two Sussex MPs have tabled amendments to remove all the clauses on fracking and oil and gas drilling from the Infrastructure Bill.
Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, and Norman Baker, Lib Dem MP for Lewes, are seeking to delete clause 36 which introduces the new legal duty to maximise the economic recovery of UK oil and gas.
TAP – An alliance between Lib Dem and Green over this bill, combined with reluctance from Labour might be significant in stopping the Bill. A government defeat pre-election would be good politics. What can we do other than keep our fingers crossed? How about some Tory rebels – do these people want to be re-elected? There are 120 Tory-held Constituencies which have strong anti-fracking opposition groups, and very unpopular local fracking proposals. This Bill will be political suicide were it to go through. Yesterday New York banned fracking. Is London really about to seize environmental destruction as its flagship pre-election policy? (back to post)
In a separate amendment, the two MPs are also seeking to remove clauses 38-43 of the Bill, which deal with drilling for oil and gas in deep level land, including the proposed changes to the trespass laws.
(TAP)Tim Farron MP, President of the Lib Dems, known to be willing to oppose fracking. Will he break ranks? Could this issue and this Bill be the moment the Clegg/Cameron hegemony starts to unwind?
In an explanation of their second amendment, Dr Lucas and Mr Baker said: “This deletes the Clauses that change the trespass law by introducing a new right to use deep-level land, which would allow fracking companies to drill beneath people’s homes and land without their permission and to leave any substance or infrastructure in the land”.
Last month, Mr Baker called an adjournment debate on fracking.
Our report During the Second Reading debate on the Infrastructure Bill earlier this month, Dr Lucas criticised government policy on onshore oil and gas drilling. She said: “An effective response to climate change requires a complete shift to a carbon-neutral energy system within a generation in all the major economies including Britain.”
More quotes from Second Reading debate
The latest list of amendments also include those by Labour’s energy spokesman, Tom Greatrex
These would would require
- New planning guidance introducing a presumption against deep-level onshore oil and gas exploration in protected areas and land linked to them.
- Inspections by the Health and Safety Executive of wells before exploitation of petroleum to check for unplanned escape of fluids or health and safety risks
- Minerals Planning Authorities to consider the cumulative impact of exploiting petroleum in deep level land
- Site by site measurement, monitoring and public disclosure of existing and future fugitive emissons
- Devolution of decisions over oil and gas licensing in Scotland
- Compulsory Environmental Impact Assessment for all deep-level drilling
- Independent inspections of well integrity
- Public disclosure of chemicals and the proportions used in fracking
- Mandatory consultation by Mineral Planning Authorities with relevant water companies on drilling applications
- Environmental monitoring over the previous 12 months of a drilling operation
- Ecological monitoring and monitoring of methane in groundwater
Labour is also seeking to limit the Bill’s clause which would allow any substances to be left in deep level land. Its amendment replaces this with “substances approved by the Environment Agency”.
Andrew Miller, Labour MP for Ellesmere Port (where IGas recently announced it had found shale gas) has also introduced an amendment which requires companies to publish baseline environmental data in a form that would allow it to be peer-reviewed.
The amendments on fracking and onshore oil and gas drilling will be discussed in the New Year.
The committee scrutinising the bill adjourned for Christmas this morning.