The headlong rush to frack should be stopped. That was the firm view of local Lib Dem MPs Norman Baker (Lewes) and Stephen Lloyd (Eastbourne) who worked and voted together to try to press for a 30 month moratorium on fracking. The proposal was unfortunately defeated in the Commons, largely by Labour and Tory MPs voting together. And in a “cynical “time-wasting” move, the Labour party forced two votes on matters the government had already conceded, which took up a valuable 30 minutes of time and therefore prevented a vote on the issue of whether to allow fracking to take place under people’s homes without needing the permission of the householder. Labour wants to allow this.
In good news, the government responded positively to a New Clause tabled by Norman Baker and supported by Stephen Lloyd that means fracking cannot now take place under any circumstances in protected areas like the South Downs National Park, or in Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). In addition, Norman’s efforts to give water companies a veto were met with partial success with extra safeguards added, and a promise to consider making water companies statutory consultees to any application.
Norman said: “We made some good progress today but sadly not enough. I am particularly incensed that the 361,000 people who signed a petition against the freedom for companies to frack under people’s houses did not get the opportunity to have that tested on a vote due to cynical time-wasting by Labour.”
The amendment to prevent such fracking was tabled by Norman Baker and Brighton MP Caroline Lucas and backed by Stephen Lloyd.
Stephen Lloyd added: “I thought it was eminently sensible to put a hold on the headlong rush toward fracking that some appear so keen on. This would allow more time for robust, scientific and independent assessment of the plusses and minuses of drilling for shale gas. Let’s be 100% sure one way or other before committing ourselves as a country.”
Norman Baker MP is fighting the threat of fracking to our countryside and has tabled amendments to remove key clauses on fracking and oil and gas drilling from the Infrastructure Bill.
The Lib Dem MP has also tabled an amendment to give the Environment Agency and water companies a veto on fracking, where they believe it would cause environmental damage, including to water supplies
Together with the Green MP Caroline Lucas for Brighton Pavillion, he is seeking to delete clause 36 which would introduce the new legal duty to maximise the economic recovery of UK oil and gas.
In an additional amendment, the two MPs are also seeking to remove clauses 38-43 of the Bill, which would cover the drilling for oil and gas in deep level land, including the proposed changes to the trespass laws.
Norman says “There is an alternative, which is proper investment in energy efficiency, which will also bring fuel bills down, and a big expansion on renewables where there is huge potential for wind, wave and tidal power”.
While a minister Norman successfully lobbied behind the scenes for fracking to be virtually ruled out from the South Downs National Park, but he is still concerned that still leaves large parts of his constituency vulnerable.
In a recent commons debate, introduces by Norman on Fracking, he warned that the claims made for fracking have been exaggerated, and the downsides underplayed and called for a shift of emphasis towards renewables and away from fracking.
Newhaven MP Norman Baker warmly welcomes news that Rampion offshore wind farm, off the coast of Sussex, has today been given consent from the government to go ahead.
This project is expected to support over 750 jobs and bring over £2 billion of investment into the UK’s economy.Once built, the wind farm would generate enough electricity to power approximately 450,000 homes.
Norman has been actively lobbying Energy Secretary Ed Davey on this issue, both to grant permission and to do so quickly to bring further increased investment into the area and securing greener energy sources.
Norman says “This is great news for Newhaven and something I have lobbied hard for. It is positioning Newhaven very well as the South East Centre of offshore renewable technology for the century ahead. It is great for the economy and great for the environment
It is a good thing the Energy Secretary has not listened to the ‘naysayers’ who continually talk down renewable energy.
This offshore renewable energy source will be able to provide energy for approximately 450,000 homes and is an investment in our energy security for the future, helping to make Britain self-sufficient in the future.”
Local MP Norman Baker has praised the news that additional investments of around £40 billion are expected in renewable electricity generation projects up to 2020. The Lib Dem Secretary of State for Energy Ed Davey has made the announcement following updated contract terms and strike prices alongside wider reforms to the electricity market.
These changes set the UK on track to doubling the amount of electricity generated from renewables from 15 per cent to over 30 per cent by 2020. The additional investment will generate enough clean power for 10 million homes, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 20 million tonnes. Increasing the amount of home-grown renewable energy will boost energy security, reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels, and support up to 200,000 jobs by 2020.
In total, these reforms will help to support up to £110 billion of additional investment across the electricity sector by 2020, helping to insulate Britain from future world gas price increases and boosting jobs and growth in every region of the UK.
“Investing in green energy offers a real long term alternative to the fossil fuel industry. The current over reliance on depleting fuel sources is one of the major factors causing the rise in energy prices. Combating this by proper investment in the green sector secures a future of more stable energy bills whilst simultaneously bringing in new jobs and investment from an enlarged green energy sector.
“This extra investment will no doubt bolster the local economy. Small scale green energy projects are already offering benefits to the local infrastructure and producing jobs. Larger developments including the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm, a project that will bring much needed jobs to Newhaven, offer good examples of how investment in the green economy can benefit local people.”