MP meets new Energy Minister over shale gas

php0csZIjAM

FYLDE MP Mark Menzies has spoken with the new Energy Minister to reiterate his firm stance regarding potential shale gas exploration in Lancashire.

The recent Government reshuffle saw former Skills Minister Matthew Hancock MP replace Michael Fallon in the multiple roles of Minister of State for Business, Innovation and Skills as well as Energy.

Mr Hancock recently visited Fylde to meet apprentices at BAE Systems in Warton and has met with Mr Menzies on a number of occasions in his former role to discuss the creation of a national energy skills academy on the Fylde coast.

And following the Minister’s appointment earlier this month, Mr Menzies wanted to raise with him directly the subject of shale gas at the earliest opportunity.

Mr Menzies said: “If shale gas exploration is to go ahead in Lancashire then I have two cast iron conditions; one that regulation must be robust and the other in ensuring through the planning system that any sites chosen have as little impact on local residents as possible.

“I have worked with Matt Hancock in his previous role and found him to be a hardworking Minister who is always willing to listen so I wanted to speak to him as soon as possible to press home how important it is that things are done right if this industry is to move forward.

“I often hear people in Westminster talking about ‘taking advantage of our natural assets’ or ‘streamlining’ regulation to help spur on the shale gas industry. Language like that is not helpful when convincing our communities that their concerns are being taken seriously.

“That is why I felt it was vital to let the Minister know at the first opportunity that I will be holding the Government to account on these issues and I want to work with him to secure the best outcome.

“I also wanted to reiterate my view that it must be the county council and not Whitehall that takes the relevant planning decisions and that those authorities must engage closely with the local communities throughout that process.

“I took the opportunity to make it clear to the Minister that if shale gas exploration is to begin in Fylde then we have to ensure we receive some of the associated benefits from that. I know there is currently a debate surrounding the location of a national energy skills academy and I made it clear that unless that came to the Fylde coast I would be seriously considering my position on this whole issue.”

 

PICTURE: Mark Menzies and Matthew Hancock at BAE Systems in Warton last year

Comments are closed.