MPs want British fracking put on hold

A group of MPs said fracking should be put on hold in Britain today – as they tabled changes to a law which would let oil companies drill under people’s […]

By Vicky Ellis

A group of MPs said fracking should be put on hold in Britain today – as they tabled changes to a law which would let oil companies drill under people’s homes without permission.

Four years ago MPs dismissed the need for a moratorium on fracking but nembers of the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) have resurrected the call.

Today they argued against drilling gas from shale rock in the UK until certain safeguards are in place.

They have tabled amendments to the Infrastructure Bill, to be voted on today, which contains plans to allow fracking under homes without express permission.

Protests erupted in Balcombe, Sussex over plans to frack, August 2013. Image: Thinkstock
Protests erupted in Balcombe, Sussex over plans to frack, August 2013. Image: Thinkstock

MP Joan Walley who chairs the EAC Committee described this as “profoundly undemocratic”. The cross-party backbenchers hope to get a moratorium on fracking put into the bill today.

Their report on the environmental risks in fracking claimed shale gas still has to be properly consoled with the UK’s targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Other demands in the report include: a ban on fracking “outright” in protected and nationally important areas and all water source protection zones, as well as full containment of methane emissions from wellheads.

Ms Walley added: “Ultimately fracking cannot be compatible with our long-term commitments to cut climate changing emissions unless full-scale carbon capture and storage technology is rolled out rapidly, which currently looks unlikely. There are also huge uncertainties around the impact that fracking could have on water supplies, air quality and public health.”

But drilling trade body the Onshore Energy Services Group slammed the report and said it “fails to take into account” evidence about safety regulations.

Interim Chief Executive Lee Petts said: “There can be no justification for a further fracking moratorium. Every aspect of shale gas extraction has been carefully and thoroughly assessed in the last three and a half years.”

He alleged the report’s timing and the “haste” of the EAC inquiry “suggest that this is just a fig leaf for an attack intended to torpedo the Infrastructure Bill”.