MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

BY the time you read this I will have held a debate in Parliament on the regulation of onshore gas exploration and extraction.

To put that in simple terms, I will be speaking out to focus Ministers minds on the concerns that people in Fylde have about shale gas.

As I’m sure everyone is now aware, Cuadrilla Resources are keen to resume their drilling – and crucially hydraulic fracturing –with a view to extracting gas from shale rocks several miles below Fylde’s surface.

“Great”, some of you may think; jobs and energy security – are we sitting, literally, on a goldmine?

That’s all well and good but, as so many people from Fylde have pointed out, the technology, while nothing new, does not come without risk.

With positive noises coming from Whitehall many have assumed that a decision is in the pipeline and a decision to go-ahead has already been made.

As things stand that is not the case.

Senior civil servants are looking into this issue in great detail from the potential environmental, health, energy supply and energy security impacts to the potential economic impact.

The decision, ultimately, lies in the hands of the Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey.

During the debate I won’t be bamboozling the chamber with technical analysis and facts and figures. I’m no geologist or technical expert.

I have looked at this subject very carefully though and it is clear that, in order for the public to have confidence were this process to go-ahead, a number of things are still to be achieved.

That means rigorous regulation, inspection and control, a standard which will set an example throughout the world, and transparency.

I call for a world leading standard not just because I believe Britain deserves the best.

Lancashire is densely populated and I believe that, if gas is to be extracted, it can only be done slowly with sites chosen carefully away from centres of population.

No one would accept fracking sites littered all over Lancashire as some people will have you believe could happen.

A rigorous regime is what I will insist upon.

I hope to send a clear message – Fylde’s environment must not be compromised.

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