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.”