Some Calder Valley constituents – who are worried about proposed new fracking legislation in the Infrastructure Bill which MPs are to vote on in the House of Commons this week – have asked Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker to tell the government to release the full version of the Defra report on Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts.
The version that has been published (PDF) has over 60 redactions, and Green MP Caroline Lucas has accused ConDem ministers of having “something to hide” over fracking.
The redacted bits of the fracking impact study include lots of its executive summary and sections on:
- Hydrocarbon reserves
- investment and job creation
- areas likely to be affected by shale gas licensing
- fracking’s economic impacts on rural communities, and
- the social impacts of shale gas drilling on rural areas.
Hebden Bridge resident Fern Bast says that without this information, MPs will not know what they are talking about when they discuss and vote on the Infrastructure Bill.
The Infrastructure Bill is a mishmash of proposed new legislation that covers a wide range of infrastructure including houses, roads, renewable energy generation and fracking.
At its December reading in the House of Commons, only 10 MPs, including Green MP Caroline Lucas, voted against it.
Craig Whittaker MP was among the vast majority of MPs who voted for it.
The Labour opposition did not oppose the Infrastructure Bill, but just put forward proposed amendments to fracking regulations, that the fracking industry are “quite relaxed about” according to Labour MP Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston), who said this in the debate on the Infrastructure Bill 2nd reading.
Infrastructure Bill will maximise greenhouse gas emissions
Lawyer Melanie Strickland has roundly criticised the Infrastructure Bill on the grounds that it introduces a new duty to maximise oil and gas extraction (and therefore greenhouse gas emissions). Clause 36 it states that the ‘principal objective’ and strategy in relation to UK petroleum is ‘maximum economic recovery’ – that is – get as much oil and gas out of the ground as possible Ms Strickland has written that this:
“is the most shocking aspect of the Bill, and it seems to underlie everything else. It’s the clearest possible signal that the political establishment is not going to be part of the solution to tackling climate change, in fact it will defend and promote the life destroying status quo (fossil fuel culture) to the end.”
Ms Bast has written to Craig Whittaker MP, saying:
“Can I please ask you, as our elected representative, to insist that David Cameron releases a full version of the report? This request is so that you can vote on complete, transparent and properly digested information as to why property owners rights to stop fracking, should be removed.
Two MPs (Lucas and McIntosh) asked for the report to be uncensored last month.
I believe if you do not have complete information, you cannot make any decisions that will impact on the populace who elected you to act in our best interests.
I hope you will take my request on board.”
Ms Bast also told Mr Whittaker that as a disabled person she was unhappy with restrictions his office had placed on her, by asking her on a previous occasion not to email her MP, but to look at his website for answers to her questions.
Ms Bast’s letter to her MP explained:
“My last email was responded to by your office with the suggestion I look at your web site for answers. I think then I gave up the hope of being represented in Parliament by you. I am unable to leave the house and am spending most of my time horizontal whilst I await another urgent back operation. So I can’t attend your surgery and at present writing is a problem. I trust in these circumstances you will accept an email from me. I have read your news letter and looked at various things on the web and can’t find your views on this.”
Upper Calder Valley Plain Speaker has asked Craig Whittaker MP to comment on his constituents’ requests to access and make public a full unredacted copy of the Defra report on Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts. If he replies, Plain Speaker will of course publish his comments.