Here are the replies of the Yorkshire and Humber MEPs on fracking:
Tim Kirkhope MEP, Rebecca Taylor MEP, Godfrey Bloom MEP, and Andrew Brons MEP,
I haven’t analysed them yet, so feel free! Regards, Martin. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Mr Deane,
Thank you for your email.
As you are probably aware the vote that was due in Parliament yesterday was postponed until the plenary session to be held w/c 07-10-13. MEPs want to hold a plenary debate with representatives of the European Commission and the Council Presidency before holding a vote.
The Environment Committee of the European Parliament, of which I am a substitute member, voted overwhelmingly in favour of including unconventional methods of fossil fuel extraction in the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, thus making them mandatory throughout the EU . The report was tabled by my ALDE colleague Andrea Zanoni MEP and was in line with a resolution of the Parliament in November 2012 in which MEPs backed tough rules on shale gas drilling.
I am clear that wherever shale gas ‘fracking’ is conducted it must be done in a safe and environmentally sound way. There are regulations in place to ensure on-site safety, prevent water contamination, air pollution and mitigate seismic activity. Before any actual drilling could occur in the UK there would need to be planning applications to the relevant local authority as well as permissions from the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive and, in the case of fracking, the Department for Energy and Climate Change as well.
I look forward to the debate in October. The EU Commission has previously indicated that it would bring forward specific legislation to deal with shale gas extraction. However any future legislation is framed I am confident that the Parliament will uphold its commitment to ensuring the highest possible environmental standards are in place wherever shale gas extraction takes place.
Rebecca Taylor MEP
Dear Mr Deane,
Thank you for your email about the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive. My position and that of my colleagues in the UK Conservative Delegation is as follows.
In principle, the Conservatives accept the inclusion of ‘shale gas production operations’ in Annex I of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive, thereby creating the provision for mandatory impact assessments on all shale gas/unconventional gas projects. However, the current wording of the amendment is problematic in that it would also make low-impact activities, such as exploration, subject to mandatory environmental impact assessment.
Put simply, this would mean that exploration and evaluation, which are mostly conducted in offices and laboratories with no ‘fracking’ and absolutely no impact on the environment, would be subject to a full impact assessment. Not only would such regulation be disproportionate but it would lead to many safe, environmentally sound activities being blocked.
Consequently, the Conservatives voted against amendments 31 and 79 but proposed new amendments which stipulated that the extraction of shale gas/unconventional fuels should undergo full EIA regardless of the amount extracted. However, the amendments made it clear that the exploration stage should be covered by the detailed screening procedure laid out in the existing Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Timothy Kirkhope MEP
Dear Mr Deane
Thank you for your email to Godfrey Bloom of 9 September 2013, outlining your concerns with fracking and Environmental Impact Assessments, September Strasbourg plenary vote. I prepare voting lists for both the Environment committee the Industry & Energy committee, covering both committee and plenary sessions for all UKIP MEPs.
We have long supported fracking for natural gas, the industry knows its job well, drills gas-tight steel-jacketed bore-holes safely, knows exactly where the acquifers are to avoid them, handles risks responsibly, and there are safe, long-established procedures for handling industrial quantities of waste water, which does not contain dangerous fracking chemicals, contra to the lies put about by the eco-watchdog industry who make a good living out of funding from governments and anti-western power blocs (such as Russia), to lobby against a clean and safe energy source.
We do not support government subsidies for fracking, we prefer to let the industry take all the risks and profits. It is pointless to talk about the risks, real or imagined, in the fracking process without comparison to existing real world situations. The coal industry goes from strength to strength in Europe (Poland and Germany to name but two large countries), China, and even America. For further comparison, Estonia is lucky in having the cheapest energy in the EU, it open cast mines oil shale to get it.
The environmental impact of coal mining is generally far larger than any form of fracking, and no-one imagines that coal is going to stop any time soon. EU and even world energy reliance on real power stations such as coal-fired plants is all too great – unless you actually want to send Europe back to the Dark Ages, which is what reliance on electricity windmills and solar PV would achieve. Ordinary householders and energy-intensive businesses alike want cheap gas and do not want to be beholden to Gazprom in Russia, with whom the UK has a current deal for winter fuel. How much more sense in economic and environmental terms would it make to use our own resources? Gas from Russia has to come through enormous pipelines or be shipped as LNG, as it is from Qatar. Simply banning fracking, in the UK or anywhere else, is folly.
Supposed reports of contamination of the drinking water supply by fracking do not trouble to rule out well-known alternative sources of pollution such as naturally occurring biogenesis (eg, decomposition by bacteria of organic matter), of methane, thermogenesis, or other chemical processes. Many mischief-making stories are spread about fracking for many and varied reasons, I have barely touched the motives and methods of these nefarious groups in this short letter. But fortunately, UKIP is in the forefront of a new era in cheap clean gas energy, and fracking goes forward, albeit less quickly than it should.
On behalf of Godfrey Bloom
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+33 38 81 73019
Dear Mr Deane
Thank you for your email regarding Shale Gas extraction.
Mr Brons has asked me to reply to you on his behalf.
The controversial technique of hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – offers the chance to extract the significant quantities of shale gas that are present in England. Given that Britain faces the prospect of serious power shortages in the coming years, accessing a new home based energy source – rather than having to import foreign gas – would be beneficial in terms of national energy self-sufficiency, security of supply and reduced costs for consumers.
Unfortunately, while this innovative drilling technique could produce significant quantities of shale gas from a British natural resource, and thus provide Britain with some degree of self-sufficiency in terms of energy provision, the facts indicate that the risk to land and people is just too high.
As you point out, the method of extraction, known as fracking could have serious safety implications. Shale gas is extracted by drilling down into the ground and then hydraulically fracturing the shale using high-pressure liquid to release the gas. The process has proved controversial in the US because the drilling process involves chemicals, including carcinogenic compounds, which can pollute water supplies. Drilling companies claim that chemical additives make up less than one per cent of the liquid poured into the gas field. However, the quantities involved are so large that a typical well is likely to pump about 34,000 gallons of chemicals into the ground. One of the chemicals used is diesel, which contains toxic substances. Other chemicals used can include hydrochloric acid, formaldehyde and arsenic.
Fracking has already been banned in many countries. In light of the significant safety concerns associated with this drilling technique, there should be a moratorium on any further exploitation of shale gas until the wider environmental concerns have been addressed.
Assistant to Andrew Brons MEP