Fylde MP: Why I supported shale gas moratorium

FYLDE MP Mark Menzies has explained the reasons behind his vote for a 30 month moratorium on shale gas exploration.

The Member of Parliament voted in favour of the amendment to the Government’s Growth and Infrastructure Bill, but the motion was defeated in the House of Commons.

Explaining the decision, he today said there were still too many unanswered questions surrounding the industry.

Mr Menzies added: “This was the first time the subject of shale gas had been voted on by the House, and although it was really concerned with accessing shale seams many miles underground, it became a debate about the industry as a whole.

“I have been involved in discussions about this industry since first coming to Parliament and have been clear that if it is to go ahead it can only do so with robust regulation and strict environmental controls in place.

“I have been contacted by a large number of local people who have similar concerns and I noted that officers at Lancashire County Council, did not feel confident enough to recommend approval for two sites in Fylde which will go before the planning committee this week.

“As someone who is passionate about localism, the decision of the committee must be respected and if it is a refusal then the companies will have to go away and think again. I would certainly oppose any attempts to overturn that local decision at a national level.

“Local people have spoken and I wanted to reflect their concerns, as well as my own, in my voting. This industry could bring jobs and investment into Fylde but it needs to be done properly if it is to go ahead at all.”

Mr Menzies spoke a number of times during the debate to push Ministers on regulation and to welcome the recently-announced involvement of the British Geological Survey to conduct independent monitoring of sites.

But he said he was disappointed that Labour colleagues had not backed the call for a moratorium.

He added: “The Labour Party, whose current leader Ed Miliband gave out the licenses to explore for shale gas in Fylde when he was Energy Minister, spoke loudly about the issues surrounding the industry but when the time came for the crucial vote, they sat on their hands.

“I am disappointed we will not have a moratorium, which would let us ensure these issues are resolved without the clamour attached to imminent development, however I intend to continue working with the Government, the regulators and the companies involved to push for robust regulation and assurances that local people will be protected.”

During the debate, the Minister, John Hayes MP, praised Mr Menzies’ work to support his constituents on issues surrounding shale gas.

He added: “No one has made the case more forcefully for their constituents than my hon. Friend. I was pleased to visit Fylde with him to look at these matters in some detail.

“He has worked tirelessly throughout this Parliament to represent the views of his constituents and to improve shale gas regulation. I commit to working with him to ensure that we take further the matters that he has raised.”

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