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Fracking and underground access rights

Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents regarding fracking and underground access rights:

"Thank you for your email in connection with your concerns regarding the extraction of shale gas (‘fracking’), and access rights for underground drilling as set out in the Government’s Infrastructure Bill that is currently being considered by Parliament.

I appreciate that many people are concerned about the potential impact of shale gas extraction and I believe legitimate environmental concerns must not be ignored.  Labour has been clear that fracking should only go ahead in the context of robust regulation, comprehensive monitoring and strict enforcement, and in a way which is consistent with our long-term climate change targets. 

Demand for gas continues to be high, and shale gas could potentially offer an opportunity to improve the UK’s security of energy supply, to replace depleted North Sea gas reserves and to displace some of the gas that is currently imported.  For this reason I do not believe shale gas extraction should be completely ruled out, however, we do need a strong regulatory regime that is fit for purpose, and clear flaws in the existing framework must be addressed. 

My Labour Shadow Frontbench colleagues tabled a number of amendments to the Infrastructure Bill seeking to close several loopholes in existing fracking regulations and to include important safeguards concerning planning regulations and the cumulative impact of shale gas developments on a local area as well as new assessments and monitoring requirements for the chemicals used and emissions produced by shale gas extraction.

I have noted your concerns regarding the Government’s proposal to align underground access rights for shale gas extraction and geothermal energy with a number of other areas such as water, sewage and coalmining, all of which already allow underground access rights.  As Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons I cannot take part in any vote on this matter, however, I will work with my Labour colleagues to continue to push for the environmental framework surrounding fracking to be strengthened to ensure that fracking could only take place in the context of robust safety and environmental standards.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your concerns.

Yours sincerely

Dawn Primarolo

Labour MP for Bristol South"

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