You are on page 1of 2

KEITH TAYLOR

Green Party
for the South East of England

The Rt. Hon Greg Clark MP


Secretary of State
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
1 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0ET

30 May 2018
Dear Greg,

Re: Energy Policy: Written statement - HCWS690

I noted with disappointment your announcement on 17 May about fast tracking fracking, and using
public funds to support its development. However, at our last meeting your avid and unquestioning
enthusiasm for extraction of unconventional hydrocarbons was apparent.

I also note that the proposed weakening of the planning regime for fracking with less local
democratic involvement comes hard on the heels of the closure of the public consultation on the
draft revised National Planning Policy Framework. Within seven days of that closing, and asking for
views on these very matters, your statement is clear on the direction of travel subject to some more
consultation. The Government can’t claim with any credibility that at the time of releasing its
statement it had assessed even a handful of the responses to the hefty consultation on these plans.

You will understand, I hope, that therefore the public – and the local communities I represent – have
little faith in these further consultations. While the ink was still drying on, what I suspect was a
considerable amount of dissent to the proposals in the NPPF about minerals extraction, the
Government’s statement is to be taken as “a material consideration in plan-making and decision-
taking”.

Clarification needed on whether the NPPF consultation was a genuine process

This contradictory position breaches Government guidance on consultation principles which states1:
“We will also reduce the risk of ‘consultation fatigue’ by making sure we consult only on issues that
are genuinely undecided”. It also says: “Allow appropriate time between closing the consultation
and implementing policy or legislation”.

I would therefore call on your department to clarify that the NPPF consultation was a genuine
process and that the department will take on board any suggestions for these relevant policies,
which were made in good faith.

Clarification needed on shale gas or shale oil and gas

I am also writing to clarify whether your statement is just about shale gas or also includes shale oil,
which is what we have in the South East. Whereas most of your statement uses the term “shale
gas”, when it gets to the two forthcoming consultations you use the term “non-hydraulic fracturing
shale exploration development” with regard to permitted development rights. In the South East

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/691383/Consulta
tion_Principles__1_.pdf

Office of the Green MEPs, CAN Mezzanine, 49-51 East Road, London N1 6AH phone: 0207250 8415
e-mail: keithtaylor@greenmeps.org.uk website: www.keithtaylormep.org.uk twitter: @GreenKeithMEP
operators are using acid stimulation to fracture the rock. Please could you clarify if that is what you
are referring to here?

Furthermore, when you talk about “the criteria required to trigger the inclusion of shale production
projects into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime”, does this apply to shale oil as
well as gas?

The draft National Planning Policy Framework used the term “unconventional hydrocarbons” when
talking about onshore oil and gas. This can include shale oil as well as gas. It is important to be
clear, consistent and use the correct scientific terms or this can cause considerable confusion,
including for the regulators. That is why I am keen to see an inquiry to look into these matters.

Local communities in the South East are already discussing these questions and it is important that
Ministers are clear. We cannot wait until the consultation opens as we will then have little time to
carry out any research required to support our submissions.

Was the language deliberately vague or did you mean shale gas only, given that’s what the overall
announcement was about?

Clarification needed on risk, climate change and conflict with Government’s climate policies

It would also be helpful to hear how this promotion of fracking furthers the Government’s
commitment to the 2015 Paris Climate agreement?

Please could you also provide a reassurance that you will carry out an environmental impact and
risk assessment of adopting a policy that throws open the door to fracking and potentially other
forms of unconventional hydrocarbon exploration?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Keith Taylor, Green MEP, South East England.

Office of the Green MEPs, CAN Mezzanine, 49-51 East Road, London N1 6AH phone: 0207250 8415
e-mail: keithtaylor@greenmeps.org.uk website: www.keithtaylormep.org.uk twitter: @GreenKeithMEP