Parliament is told of fracking fears

Call: Mark Menzies
Call: Mark Menzies
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He says a new gold standard of regulation is urgently needed.

The MP led an adjournment debate on onshore exploration and extraction in the House Of Commons this week.

Highlighting major local concerns about the oversight of the controversial fracking industry he reminded MPs that two earth tremors were triggered locally last year when UK energy company Cuadrilla Resources fracked the Preese Hall gas well, which is near Singleton.

He said: “We need a regulatory system that addresses all concerns, can be properly enforced and that can be an example to industry acrosst the world.”

He acknowledged that some regulatory procedures are already in place to assess and monitor the industry – relating to areas such as environment, health and safety and planning.

But he added: “Despite all this, I do not believe that the regulatory system is robust or transparent enough to instil public confidence should permission be granted to develop this industry....There are still many questions and concerns around the shale gas process.”

The industry was at a developmental stage in the UK and this created special scrutiny needs.

The new panel being suggested would have three roles - to look at every issue in detail, to fully appraise the risk and to ensure necessary specific regulations are in place.

It would allow questions to be independently answered, submissions made and solutions to be developed,

He said his constituents were concerned that there are no specific onshore exploration regulations, adding: “The offshore regulations developed in the 1990s following the Piper Alpha disaster are perhaps not sufficient to address all the issues that arise from moving a process to onshore and in a relatively populated area like Fylde.”

Listing to 10 areas of concern ranging from possible subsidence to how fracking back-flow water will be stored and disposed of, he said the panel would look into all these issues and more and would be open to questions from all interested parties.