Tag Archives: fracking

26 October 2018 – today’s press releases

A very diverse range of press releases today, it must be said…

Universal Credit causing unacceptable hardship

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has slammed the Conservative Government for refusing to listen to problems experienced by those on Universal Credit as the Public Accounts Committee urges Ministers to make fundamental changes to the scheme.

The Public Accounts Committee has today (26th October) published its report into the implementation of Universal Credit. The committee concludes that:

  • The DWP’s dismissive attitude to real-world experience is failing claimants
  • The recent announcement of delayed roll-out is not a solution
  • The Government must work with third-party organisations to shape programme

Liberal Democrat MP …

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Are we in a fracking mess?

Over the past few weeks you could be forgiven for assuming that the party is in a bit of a mess on the fracking issue. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Scottish and Welsh devolved governments both had a moratorium on fracking on the basis of inherent risks in the technology, with unquantified dangers of seismic disturbance and pollution of water tables, as well as (still unaddressed) risks of waste material transport, treatment and disposal. Permitting planning authorities to reject fracking on these grounds is important. Both our Welsh and Scottish parties supported these moratoria. When a moratorium was debated at Westminster before the election, many of the 58 votes against were from the non-government Lib Dems.
However, as many have said, the evidence for these risks being unavoidable is weak. Fracking can be done safely, from a purely technical point of view. The massively over-interpreted RSE report said so.
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Baroness Lynne Featherstone writes…We must be an anti fracking party

This weekend we have an opportunity to change our position on fracking. I believe we should take it.Since becoming party spokesperson for energy and climate change, I have spent many hours listening to party activists, experts and public reaction. It is clear to me that it is time for change.

We need energy security. We need sustainable energy. We need to meet our legally binding targets. Fracking will not deliver any of these. But it will deliver greenhouse gases.

It is not logical or sensible to develop fracking at the very moment we have signed up to the Paris agreement on climate …

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The alternatives to coal for electricity generation

For 2014-15, 26.7% of UK electricity was generated from coal, 29.7% from gas, 22.2% from nuclear,19.3% from renewables and 2.1% from other sources. Coal is the most prolific carbon emitter, so the argument goes that we should replace it. The question is with what?

Liberal Democrats, and particularly Scottish ones, are grappling with the question over whether to oppose fracking outright. Leaving aside new forms of energy (and leaving aside carbon capture), the decision on how to replace coal for electricity generation seems quite simple: gas, or nuclear, or renewables; or a combination of the three.

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Scottish Liberal Democrat fracking decision – setting the record straight

Yesterday we published this post entitled: “Willie Rennie reaffirms Scottish Lib Dems’ opposition to fracking – despite Conference vote”. Beneath the article, Graeme Cowie posted a six part response. As per our comments policy, the length of comments is limited to encourage short and pithy debate. We do not allow multi-part comments. However, under the circumstances we decided to ask Graeme if he would like, instead, his comments to be published as a full article. Graeme assented, so here is his comment in full.

Correcting the Record

As the person who summated the amendment that received around 2/3 of the support of a very busy Conference Hall, I feel compelled to respond to the total double-speak over this issue. It is firstly misleading to imply that the debate was poorly attended; asides the Saturday debate on All Women Shortlists, it was the best attended debate of the entire Conference.

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Fracking and the Liberal Democrats

It seems that there is widespread misunderstanding among the federal party members as to why we here in Scotland decided to end the current moratorium we had on fracking and other non-conventional extraction of hydrocarbons.

Introduced in 2013, the Scottish moratorium on fracking was, as far as one understands it, based upon awaiting further evidence.  The following year, such evidence actually came to light in the form of the Scottish Government’s 2014 report: Independent Expert Scientific Panel – Unconventional Oil and Gas.   

The report is comprehensive: addressing as it does both the environmental and public concerns.  It comes to the conclusion that, with proper oversight, public consultation and tight planning restrictions, that it is possible to exploit the United Kingdom’s potential for future hydrocarbon exploitation.

It was upon the basis of this report that Ewan Hoyle of Glasgow put forward his amendment to end the moratorium on fracking.  At conference, I spoke in support of the amendment on the current state of the industry.  With the oil price currently around $36 a barrel, the North Sea offshore industry has already shed over 70,000 jobs, with the associated knock-on effects throughout the economy. 

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Scotland’s choices on fracking

Last week Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference debated lifting the moratorium on planning and licensing for unconventional oil and gas extraction.

It was an erudite debate, and I think that it is fair to summarise the argument in favour of lifting the moratorium as follows:

Liberals believe in evidence-based policy making and the scientific method.
The moratorium was put in place to allow an independent expert scientific panel to examine how unconventional oil and gas extraction could work in Scotland.
Just such a panel published a report in July 2014.
The experts say “The technology exists to allow the safe extraction of such reserves, subject to robust regulation being in place” and “There could be minimal impact from unconventional hydrocarbons if they are used as a petrochemical feedstock.”
Therefore the moratorium has served its purpose and should now be lifted. To maintain it, in the face of scientific evidence, would be a cynical politically-motivated move.

However, it is worth remembering that the 2014 Independent Report was a large document and the two sentences quoted do not cover its complete findings. In fact the quote “There could be minimal impact from unconventional hydrocarbons if they are used as a petrochemical feedstock” is immediately preceded by “The impact of unconventional oil and gas resources in Scotland on the Scottish Government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases is not definitive,” and immediately followed by “…but lifecycle analysis of an unconventional hydrocarbon industry is required to inform the debate, and provide a clearer view on the impact of their development.”

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Fracking U-Turns: Why fracking doesn’t make sense anymore

 

In May last year I stood before a busy church hall in Lytham St Annes and stated my support for fracking. I was the Lib Dem candidate for Fylde, a constituency on the fracking front line. It was a lonely position to take, but I felt I’d struck the right balance between the need for secure domestic energy, and the need to protect the natural environment. Only the incumbent Tory MP agreed with me.

However, my support for fracking was conditional. On that day, I promised voters, that if elected, I would fight for regulation with real teeth, and work hard for a massive investment in renewables. I told voters that, If elected, and robust regulation is not forthcoming, I will not hesitate to vote in favour of ban”.

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Adrian Sanders writes… the South West is missing a voice

Where is the South West’s voice at Westminster? In fact, where is there any opposition voice speaking up for the region, scrutinising and where necessary opposing policies not in our best interests.

In the South West region at the last election the Conservatives gained every seat held by the Liberal Democrats. Fourteen gains that gifted the Conservative Party its overall majority of twelve in the House of Commons.

There was no great swing to the Conservatives in May to give them this position of absolute power. Instead, a number of people who had previously voted Liberal Democrat to prevent a majority Tory Government cast their votes for the Greens, Labour and Ukip, or not at all.

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Tim Farron: Government should hang its head in shame over fracking in national parks

Tim Farron has reacted to the Commons vote which enabled tracking under national parks in England. His constituency has two national parks.

He said:

The Government today relaxed the rules on fracking around and under National Parks and other protected sites. The Government used a parliamentary wheeze to pass the change with no parliamentary debate.

Last week the Government signed up to a landmark climate change deal and is now abandoning those pledges to create a market for another fossil fuel.

Our National Parks and areas of Scientific Interest are now at risk and the Government should hang its head in shame.”

It is disgraceful that the government are ploughing ahead with fracking at the same time as scrapping the Carbon Capture and Storage scheme which is important for mitigating against climate change.

He was on Radio 4’s PM programme this evening. You can listen here at around 8.35 minutes in.

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Farron condemns government on fracking in national parks

Tim farron photo by liberal democrats dave radcliffeTim Farron has condemned the government decision to allow fracking in national parks and other sensitive areas, protected at Liberal Democrat insistence under the coalition. The change is being made by statutory instrument so that the House of Commons will not be allowed to debate it.

Tim said

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I disagree with Jeremy

Jeremy Corbyn photo by lewishamdreamer1Jeremy Corbyn strikes me as someone who is still fighting all the battles of the 1980s and has not thought much about anything since.

Re-open the coal mines! Of course – they were closed by the Tories, so they must reopen. But ban fracking – because that is getting carbon-based fuel out of the ground, which is wrong. Now I respect people who want a total ban on fracking out of concern for the local environment, or to keep the carbon in the ground. I happen to accept the evidence that it can be done safely, and that the gas has an important role in replacing dirtier coal, running standby plant for wind turbines and weakening Putin’s influence in the world.

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Opinion: Insulation not fossil fuel subsidies

Earlier this week parliament overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill calling for a moratorium on fracking.

The challenge that the UK faces is that we are particularly dependent on natural gas. The vast majority of us have gas boilers and heating makes up much of the gas used in the UK. Weaning ourselves off gas boilers isn’t easy. There are renewable alternatives such as heat pumps but these only work in very well insulated homes. And there’s the rub. Around 70% of homes in the UK are still not well insulated, and a good portion of those have solid walls which are difficult and expensive to insulate.

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Julian Huppert MP writes… Carbon and fracking

Climate change is one of the most, if not the most, dangerous threat facing the world today. The evidence could hardly be any clearer – unless we curtail greenhouse gas emissions sharply, the results will be massively detrimental to us all and put the lives of future generations at enormous risk.

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Opinion: Generating electricity – why we should push for renewables, not fracking

Green wind farmThis article is about how we generate electricity in the UK, and makes the case for electricity generation to be 100% carbon-neutral, and to be frack-free.

Climate change remains one of the greatest risks of our age. We know that the climate is changing: we can either accept the risks and take what comes, or we can mitigate the risk by using technology to end our dependency on fossil fuels. Liberal Democrats campaign for the latter.

In 2013, figures for the UK and the whole EU for electricity generation are as follows:

energy sources

On these figures, we have some catching up to do. Many would think that given the particular advantages of wind and tides our islands have, we would be doing more than catching up – we would be leading.

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Don Foster MP writes… Justifiable NIMBYism?

I  suspect I’m not the only one to be delighted and relieved about the announcement this week about new protections to be put in place that will restrict “Fracking” in sensitive areas.

Geological evidence shows that fracking could lead to a significant disruption to the hot water spring waters on which the tourism of the World Heritage City of Bath depends and could damage the water pressure without which we could see buildings in the city collapse.

Even though the latest British Geological Survey Maps show that the three main areas where large amounts of shale oil and gas exists lie nowhere …

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Are the Greens to the Lib Dems what Ukip is to the Tories?

image“As Ukip is to the Tories, so can the Green party be to the Lib Dems.” That’s a sentence I wrote here, almost seven years ago, on 3rd November, 2007.

In The Times, Sam Coates has looked at how the quiet rise of the Greens in recent months – the party polled just ahead of the Lib Dems in May’s European elections – might hurt the Lib Dems at the May 2015 general election.

An analysis of the European election results shows the Green vote strengthening and consolidating in the

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Opinion: Chris Huhne on Fracking

chris_huhneChris Huhne, former Energy and Climate Change Secretary and member of ALDES, has written this critique of Fracking in the Guardian.

Personally, I don’t like the abrasive and sarcastic tone of it but he makes some very valid points nonetheless. In particular he points out that the USA is disconnected from the world’s gas market allowing a local surplus to cause gas prices (and coal prices) to drop in the USA. The UK, in contrast, is very connected indeed and even if we did produce masses of Shale Gas at reasonable …

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EXCLUSIVE: What Lib Dem members think about nuclear power, fracking, tuition fees and online pornography

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Almost 700 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

In advance of this year’s federal conference in Glasgow, we asked about a number of hot-topic issues that are going to be discussed here over the next few days. here’s what you had to say about the issues being debated today, Sunday…

65% say yes to nuclear power

Do you believe that nuclear power, alongside oil and gas and

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Opinion: Fracking cannot be at the expense of Climate Change targets

Next Sunday, conference will debate the Green Growth and Green Jobs motion (F10). This wide ranging motion includes, among other things, lines on fracking (56-58) which state:

Permitting limited shale gas extraction, ensuring that regulations controlling pollution and protecting local environmental quality are strictly enforced, planning decisions remain with local authorities and local communities are fully consulted over extraction and fully compensated for all damage to the local landscape

Like many of you I am skeptical about fracking for a number of reasons but primarily because I am absolutely committed to tackling Climate Change, and the lines in the motion do …

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The Observer claims Lib Dems officially ‘blast fracking’ – no!

Balcombe FrackingToday’s Observer splashes with “Liberal Democrats blast environmental damage caused by fracking.” Not quite.

We’ve had quite a lively debate here on Lib Dem Voice on the merits and demerits of fracking (Gilbert, Boddington).  In the Observer article Tony Helm suggests that Liberal Democrats have rejected shale gas extraction. As I said not quite.

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Opinion: Shale Gas exploration – Why a cautious approach is the right one.

Many Liberal Democrats will, like me, have read with wry amusement the reaction of the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph and some Tory MPs to the local opposition to Cuadrilla drilling in Balcombe in Sussex and the potential of fracking in their area given their previous hysterical support for fracking and shale gas.

Clearly there are a number of groups who are taking the opportunity to mount a vigorous campaign against fracking with, for example, the publication of a map of a “licence to frack” raising fears of fracking taking place across the country. In fact the so called …

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Opinion: The Dark Satanic Wells of Fracking

Like many enthusiasts, I’m looking forward to the bombastic Last Night of the Proms, one month today. And I bet I’ll not be alone in bellowing out the words of England’s most popular anthem, Jerusalem.Blake Newton Fracking

Two centuries ago, William Blake began writing his epic poem Milton, including perhaps Jerusalem, while living in Felpham, Sussex. A few years later, he was back in London where the streets were being illuminated for the first time by gas lamps. The coal gas of Blake’s era gave way in the late 1960s to the cleaner supplies from the North Sea. Now we are witnessing the third coming of gas – hydraulic fracturing of shale. And this takes us directly back to Sussex, where protesters are mounting a blockade against fracking at Balcombe.

Green campaigners’ passions flare at any mention of fracking. The Campaign to Protect Rural England seems less certain that fracking is out of order, at least as a temporary energy fix. But it is at one with the Financial Times in believing that Balcombe is far from the best place to start. The drilling site is within the protected High Weald area of outstanding natural beauty and, even though the blockade is being led by eco-activists, most villagers say they are opposed to fracking in their parish.

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Chris Davies MEP writes: A view from the North (2/3)

You can read the first instalment of Chris Davies’s View from the North here.

It will some as no surprise to members in the North West that I asked them some questions on issues relating to the environment and reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

I have led on environmental issues for the pan-European Liberal group in the Parliament since 1999, but since being re-elected in 2009 I have made sustainable reform of the CFP my biggest policy priority.

I asked whether members agreed with the majority of the world’s scientists that the climate is changing. 88% agreed and only …

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Pugh: we must we must be able to guarantee safety before we start fracking

The Press Association reports:

If Britain is to benefit from a controversial drilling technique to extract gas from the ground “we must be able to guarantee safety at every stage”, a Liberal Democrat MP has said. Dr John Pugh (Southport) said without appropriate and effective monitoring of the process, public support would not be achieved.

Fracking, which involves hydraulic fracturing of shale rock using high pressure liquid, led to the tremors which hit Lancashire earlier this year. Environmental campaigners and local residents have called for an immediate halt to the exploration work, which could lead to vast untapped gas reserves. Energy firm

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