Liberal Democrat Conference votes in favour of fracking ban

After an at times heated debate, Conference has just voted to ban fracking in England.

An amendment proposed by former Energy and climate change secretary Sir Edward Davey which called for the regulation of the current exploratory stage and for an independent review of the evidence into the role that shale gas can play was defeated by Conference.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • As a policy it is daft. However vote wise it might help. Problem is get in a coalition and it would have to be ditched.

  • Simon mcgrath 12th Mar '16 - 2:36pm

    Nimby hysteria 1 . Evidence based policy making 0

  • Jenny barnes 12th Mar '16 - 2:47pm

    Any money that would have been spent on pointlessly finding more gas we can’t burn without frying the planet should be spent on renewable infrastructure. Long haul hvdc lines, giant solar farms in deserts, research, tidal barrages etc. Seems like a very sensible, evidence based policy to me. Esp. As there is at least some local risk from fracking.

  • Except that for the foreseeable future we’re going to burn gas no matter where it comes from. We have a huge dependency on gas that will take decades to wean off. The party has effectively voted to keep sending money to Russia instead of exploiting our own resources and using the revenues to invest in renewables.

  • howard benson 12th Mar '16 - 4:41pm

    …… simon mcgrath – please read up about fracking – it is not nimbyism – fracking should be done anywhere

  • howard benson 12th Mar '16 - 4:43pm

    …. john – we get about 2% of our gas from russia

  • Something like 15% comes from Russia so “get your facts right”. Only 43% (i.e. not “most”) of our gas comes from UK reserves. 57% is imported and we can expect that proportion to continue to grow if we remain dependent on foreign supplies. (And yes I do have a 100% renewable tariff – not that it makes any difference to the argument.)

  • Jenny barnes 12th Mar '16 - 5:33pm

    If we’re going to bandy figures about how much gas comes from Russia, lets have your references. It would seem that even Centrica aren’t sure. However, reports from the telegraph & independent seem to concur around domestic 43, euro 44 (of which russian might be 15) and LNg 13. Percents

    But so what? That’s all gas that has already been found. Far better to spend our money on renewables as fast as possible to back the imports out. I agree we’ll need a fair amount of gas for a while, specifially we’ll probably need enough to drive 10 GW of Ccgt electricity generation.

  • I linked to where my number comes from unlike other posters. But never mind the nitpicking, the point is that money will be spent on gas regardless of where it comes from. It is absolutely not all “already found” gas, new gas reserves are being found and exploited all the time. If we buy our gas from abroad we’re paying for investment in those new reserves instead of our own. If our gas is not coming from the UK, as 57% already doesn’t, that’s revenue lost to the treasury and therefore money that could be spent on developing renewable infrastructure being spent by other governments on other things. If it’s Russia it’s empire building, if it’s Norway it’s their sovereign wealth fund, if it’s Qatar who knows what.

  • howard benson 12th Mar '16 - 6:44pm

    I have sat through several sessions of the fracking inquiry in blackpool during which the case for fracking was completely demolished by speaker after speaker – full details can be found on the ‘counterbalance’ and ‘drill or drop’ websites and the webcast is the whole process is wrong from beginning to end – how can you regulate something happening hundreds of feet underground, cuadrilla could not show where the amount of fracking fluid – low level radioactive waste – would be treated. please read up about fracking – it could be coming to somewhere near you – unless you live in david cameron’s constituency where strangely no licences have been issued

  • Well done the Lib Dems, I am delighted that at last we have a political party willing to stand up and do the right thing.
    There is lots of evidence to support a ban on fracking. Climate change, the amount of contaminated waste fracking generates, increased air pollution, industrialisation of the countryside, impacts on people and peer reviewed science about potential health risks. On climate change alone the evidence is overwhelming.

  • howard benson 12th Mar '16 - 6:56pm
  • David Allen 12th Mar '16 - 6:58pm


    “We have a huge dependency on gas that will take decades to wean off.”

    Do you mean “Aw shucks, let’s not really bother to try”?

    If we are seriously trying to wean ourselves off gas, does it make sense to invest a lot of money in developing our capability to produce and burn more gas?

  • No, David. I mean exactly what I wrote. Unless you have a credible plan to wean us off gas in the near term, which you don’t (or at least the party doesn’t), the choice is simple: exploit more of our own reserves or buy an ever increasing proportion of our gas from overseas. If we buy from overseas we are still “investing a lot of money in developing our capability to produce and burn more gas” we are just not investing in the UK and therefore we are unable to ensure the proceeds from that investment are directed towards investment in renewable energy. By foregoing shale reserves we are hindering progress towards a zero carbon economy not helping it.

  • David Allen 12th Mar '16 - 7:48pm

    John, are you saying that it’s impossible to build a wind turbine without first drilling for gas? I think you are, you know!

    It’s nonsense. Our limited capacity to (borrow and) invest is precious. If we invest in schools we have less to invest in hospitals. If we invest in drilling for gas we have less to invest in building wind turbines.

  • howard benson 12th Mar '16 - 8:05pm

    francis egan of cuadrilla thought they’d be fracking in lancashire in 2012, it’s not happened yet, nor will it in the near future, hopefully it never will, fracking belongs in the last century not this

  • Peter Watson 12th Mar '16 - 8:25pm

    What exactly is the Lib Dem policy that will reduce the use of natural gas and other fossil fuels?
    I guess the party is now pro-nuclear for electricity generation (and defence) but what about the millions of homes with gas-fired boilers for heating and the industries for which gas is a feedstock?

  • Peter Watson 12th Mar '16 - 8:47pm

    Is the wording published anywhere for the motion that the conference passed, or could somebody please post it here.
    Also, the second paragraph in the article above seems to stop half-way? Was Sir Edward Davey’s (no more Ed?) amendment as described rejected?

  • howard benson 12th Mar '16 - 9:54pm

    peter watson – no one knows if any gas produced by fracking would be able to be used by any gas boiler – it might be so contaminated it could only be able to be burnt to produce electricity

  • ed daveys amendment rejected.. conference voted nearly 3 to 1 in favour of original motion. Now we work on reducing old school fossil fuels and promote efficiency, storage and clean electricity generation and heating. ALDES should be working on developing a new forward thinking approach to energy that will put the lib dems in the forefront of a green energy revolution.

  • howard benson 13th Mar '16 - 12:41am

    simon shaw – please look at the links to the fracking enquiry i put earlier on this thread – if you think it’s a good idea to burn gas try blocking the flue on your central heating and see how it affects the atmosphere in your house – the same thing is happening to the earth it’s just taking longer to have the same effect – fracking is a dirty business that is banned in many countries and it should be banned everywhere

  • Russia & Qatar 2 UK consumers 0

  • I am dismayed by those advocating over reliance on gas and fossil fuels. Climate change is global – we have to act now to help prevent devastation. So what if the UK has to import gas until such time we have a cleaner, stable energy mix? Most other countries have been 100% importers for decades and decades. We should look at other nations like Sweden that is moving to a carbon zero energy basis far quicker than the UK. Starting a fracking industry for fracking would lock the UK into long term and unsustainable use of gas. Establishing an industry is not a bridge fuel – get real. Importing gas for the next 15 years is a bridge fuel. With investment and political will, the UK can have carbon zero energy. If other European nations can do this so can the UK.

  • Julian Tisi 13th Mar '16 - 8:35am

    The sad irony is that the U.S. is now actually meeting its Kyoto targets mainly due to its increase in gas exploration through fracking. This is a sad day for the Liberal Democrats being the party of evidenced based policy. Fracking today is GM crops a few years ago. A cause célèbre of progressives but a campaign based on a massive lack of understanding and preference of prejudice over policy. Sad.

  • John, are you saying that it’s impossible to build a wind turbine without first drilling for gas? I think you are, you know!

    I think I’m not actually, David. This is the second time you have thrown up a straw man. Why?

    You keep missing the point that we have to buy gas no matter where it comes from. If we buy from abroad we are STILL drilling for gas. We are just paying someone else to do it. Imported gas isn’t free.

    It’s all very well saying we can have zero carbon energy in 15 years but where is the plan to get there? There isn’t one. It will be 4 more years at least before we get a government that might even consider such a plan. We should have credible, pragmatic policy that is rooted in reality not impossible dreams.

  • Julian Tisi and John
    I don’t know why we should bother arguing this frankly. You don’t seem to realise how urgent the situation is becoming. The longer we argue, the more insurmountable the problems become. The more we speak of large scale implementation of new technologies to Britain using fossil fuels, the longer we retain cheap fossil fuel energy. We should be investing in cheap, safe, carbon free (relatively!) and local for our energy! We have now wasted several years on a white elephant of an unsafe costly nuclear project, failed to properly fund energy saving measures, abandoned our renewables investments. And those are the public faces of the problem, not to mention all the less visible aspects.

    It is not going to be easy, it is not going to be cheap – but it’s all the hope we have for the future. The longer we keep on with the pointless arguing, the worse will be the transition. If transition rather than widespread chaos, destruction, and conflict is by then possible.

  • Nicola Wilson 15th Mar '16 - 10:30am

    Perhaps you should look at the evidence before saying that this decision was not evidence based! One key point is the the Tories have systematically removed all of the fracking safe guards we initially fought for, that in itself is reason enough. Try watching Voices from the Gasfields and watch real people living with the consequences of fracking, then dare to call them Nimby’s. Even Citybank is advising its investors to back away from fracking. While other European countries are heavily backing renewables, we are backing fracking and taking investment away from renewables. Why? If our party had not taken this decision I would no longer be a member of it.

  • Stephen Bolter 16th Mar '16 - 9:04pm

    Nuclear is safe than any exiting fossil fuel extraction process (and it is safer than offshore wind).
    What are the grouds for the assertion that fracking is safer than nuclear – and thus that it is safer than all other fossil fuel extraction methods?

  • Stephen Bolter 16th Mar '16 - 9:55pm

    Nuclear is safer than any exiting fossil fuel extraction process (and it is safer than offshore wind).
    What are the grounds for the assertion that fracking is safer than nuclear – and thus that it is safer than all other fossil fuel extraction methods?

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