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« Predictions | Main | Green-not-so-peaceful - Josh 310 »

A big day for shale gas

Today sees Parliament consider an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill that would introduce a moratorium on unconventional gas wells in the UK. To coincide with the vote, the Environmental Audit Committee has produced one of its normal sham reports saying that industrial activity will all end in disaster, based as always on a series of interviews with environmentalists and pretty much nobody else. In fact, as Emily Gosden in the Telegraph amusingly notes, they have outdone themselves today:

The EAC also cites evidence from Paul Mobbs, a self-described “freelance campaigner, activist, environmental consultant, author, lecturer and engineer” and former “electrohippie”, who runs a “dysorganisation” called the ‘Free Range Activism Website’.

It's good to know that the views of the electrohippies are not being overlooked.

I gather that the commmittee's chairman Joan Whalley has been all over the BBC this morning, no doubt given the usual free pass by the eco-nutters who present programmes for the corporation.

I'll update this page throughout the day as news comes in.


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Reader Comments (89)

And that is not a bad cross-section of achievement bearing in mind that elected members of the legislature are ordinary people representing ordinary people — the essence of democracy.
I mean (and please don't any of you take this personally) just what the **** are you expecting of these people? They are not God; they are doing their best; they are relying on those that they believe know better than they do to advise them on subjects outside their immediate sphere of expertise.
What has happened is that through our own collective carelessness — yours, mine, theirs, Cameron's, MIlbands, you-name-it's — we have allowed a very powerful set of lobbyists to dictate, mainly through obfuscation and outright lying, the energy policy of this country.
We have all been played for the mugs that we are by the environmental movement which has been systematically infiltrated over the last 40 years. We all now realise that and blaming the MPs is not going to change things.

Jan 26, 2015 at 5:48 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I am very ignorant of the facts when it comes to fracking - perhaps someone could enlighten me as to how it differs substantially from CCS. Apart from having a working technology and being useful.

Jan 26, 2015 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterVictoria Sponge

I am very ignorant of the facts when it comes to fracking - perhaps someone could enlighten me as to how it differs substantially from CCS. Apart from having a working technology and being useful.

Jan 26, 2015 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterVictoria Sponge

Fracking is designed to remove the nasty chemical things from far under ground, and CCS is designed to put the (allegedly) worse chemically thing back into the ground after we have had our wicked way with it.

That the green-schemes are bollocks, and malevolent bollocks at that, is immaterial. Rational debate about this matter departed our shores long ago.

Jan 26, 2015 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Mike, you are right, of course. But our politicians are to blame as well if James Verdon's account (Bish's first update) is accurate.

Jan 26, 2015 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Victoria Sponge

Carbon Capture and Storage, is INDEFINITE IMPRISONMENT WITHOUT TRIAL or evidence.

It amazes me that the Grauniad have not led on this infringement of carbon's rights, miscarriage of scientific judgement, abuse of lobbyists power etc. A scandal.

Jan 26, 2015 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Very true, Mike J, but the media are also to blame. They pander to the fanatics, and they love crusades, so as a result only a few brave politicians (Owen Paterson was one, I think) are prepared to stand up and be counted.

Jan 26, 2015 at 7:03 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Schrodinger's Cat
Yes in principle I agree with what you are saying but it doesn't alter the fundamentals. The Committee as a whole is being manipulated in precisely the same way that local Labour parties were being manipulated in the 70s/80s.
Note the names:
Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association. One button pushed. What MP worth his/her salt is not going to give weight to the views of ordinary residents.
Safety in Fossil Fuels Alliance. Which "ordinary" MP with no expertise in energy is actively going to come out against fuel safety.
These activists are anything but stupid and they learnt their trade from the same people that taught me: the Trot activists that kept branch meetings going till midnight and all the "sensible" people had gone home and the militants who thought up the slogans and the titles and all the other paraphernalia that we all fell for because our faith in our fellow man was (in their case) so very, very sorely misplaced.
Remember at bottom this has nothing to do with climate and never did.

Jan 26, 2015 at 7:15 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

@Mike J

I expect a certain level of due diligence and objectivity from professional politicians (after all - those are legal obligations for civil servants...). It's a big fat creaking zero in those categories and the sheer volume level and vehemence of the anti-frackers should have set off alarms for anybody with a few brain cells left.

they are relying on those that they believe know better than they do
- ?

They haven't looked very far then - have they ? They seem to have been swayed by the possibility of being portrayed as "bad people" in sanctimonious claptrap spouted by the usual suspects and the precautionary principle gets applied....

David Tredinnick on the Science and Technology Committee and Caroline Lucas and Zac G here.... ordinary people??? it's akin to putting Count Dracula in charge of NHS Blood Transfusions.... These people have inveigled themselves into these situations for what I consider nefarious purpose - honest, objective, diligent they are NOT.

X-posted there - I've sat through some (too many) of those filibustering late night activist drone-fests .... in hindsight I wish I'd broken the etiquette and asked them outside for fisticuffs...

Jan 26, 2015 at 7:28 PM | Registered Commentertomo

@ Golf Charlie: "Carbon Capture and Storage, is INDEFINITE IMPRISONMENT WITHOUT TRIAL"

I only have a basic understanding of the "science" behind carbon capture and storage. But, as I understand it, it relies largely on carbon agreeing to ignore the fundamental laws of physics and doing what the green blob tells it to do, or am I wrong?

Jan 26, 2015 at 7:30 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

CCS has been found to be not working - the CO2 is being very uncooperative, in fact it is nothing more than the normal green blob scam.

Jan 26, 2015 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterivan

The CO2 is escaping and has run off to hide in the forest.

Jan 26, 2015 at 8:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterIvor ward

Mike Jackson (Jan 26, 2015 at 5:48 PM): much as I agree with your argument that their initial qualifications should not mean the person should not be on the committee, I have to disagree with your assertion that they should rely upon advisors. No, no, and NO! – they should have the gumption to go out and educate themselves at least partly on the subject. As well as studying simple facts, they should ensure that they keep their minds reasonably open, and view facts presented by those with widely differing opinions.

Jan 26, 2015 at 8:15 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

There's now a transcript of this morning's Today programme segment with Joan Walley and Tom Crotty, here:

Jan 26, 2015 at 8:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

Re: Mike Jackson

they are relying on those that they believe know better than they do

They rely on those they choose to rely on. They pick who to call to give evidence and they decide whose evidence to give credence to.

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

We're not talking about the activists that have wormed their way onto the committee. We're talking about the ordinary MPs who like the people they represent have no special knowledge of nor interest in the science of global warming.

Ditto. No, they are not going to go and "educate" themselves on this subject. Why this subject in particular just because it's one we consider important? So why aren't we educating them, then?

And the same answer applies. And in their position we would be doing something different? Dream on!

We (me included) are bordering on the obsessed when it comes to climate change and energy. They are not. Pick any subject you like that doesn't really interest you and then tell us (honestly) how much time you would devote to it in between dealing with your constituents' correspondence and emails and complaints and time in the House and votes and trying to bone up a little bit on the current debate so you could make some sort of half-sensible contribution.
The failure (if there is a failure) is in having an Environmental Audit Committee in the first place where the real enviro-freaks like Whalley, Lucas and Goldsmith get the chance to influence the rest of them.
But please don't lay all this at the door of the poor old cannon fodder which is, by and large, trying to do its little best!

Jan 26, 2015 at 10:26 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Salopian, I think you have the basic principles of Carbon Capture and Storage. It will be the Green Luvvie version of Guatanamo Bay. Innocent CO2 molecules, locked away, probably in Orange Jump Suits.

Successful escapees to date, from beginner level Stalags and Concentration Camps, only seek to complete their cycle and become life giving Oxygen. When you hear of another CCS failure, smile, and hum the theme to The Great Escape. Pray that no more molecules are hunted and terminated, by the Green Luvvies, in their eradication scam.

Jan 26, 2015 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie


It's one thing to have "no specialist knowledge" (ignorance is a curable condition) and quite another thing to be an incurious idjit who will not apply themself to attempting to understand the issues related to decisions they are democratically mandated to take on our behalf.

This isn't confined to climate / energy - the pitiful shallowness of research and virtually non-existent analysis seems exasperatingly endemic in the political class (no doubt the Sir Humphries prefer it that way...) If they cannot be bothered to acquaint themselves with the issues/evidence and be objective then they have absolutely no value whatsoever as elected representatives - cannon fodder or otherwise. They can even claim gawd knows how much money to be briefed by specialists - perhaps our host could formally offer his services - for a fee:-) to members struggling to comprehend things they have to decide on that'll cost billions over the coming years....

Perhaps a themed iPad game might get their attention (Cold and Angry Voters?) . £67,000 basic salary should command a bit of application - it appears that we aren't paying enough to get folk of an acceptable calibre into the profession /sarc

Jan 26, 2015 at 11:01 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Philip Johnston a few hours ago at ToryGraph:

Jan 26, 2015 at 11:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterEric Gisin

Mike Jackson, I agree with the sentiments of tomo, RR and TerryS and your considered response.

We are in a coalition parliament, probably headed for another one, with all the party whips desperate not to offend any of the electorate, or potential coalition partners.

Labour and Conservative MP's will continue to knock seven bells out of each other, the Liberals are hoping that someone, anyone will offer them a place at the top table, meanwhile, the Greens, UKIP and Scottish Nationalists are all hoping to have more power in the next Government, than the Liberals currently have in this one.

All the parties are frightened of UKIP, Labour are frightened of the Scottish Nationalists, therefore Conservatives quite like them, but know they are unlikely coalition partners. A good or bad story in april or may, could make or break the Greens.

It is politically interesting, but the potential for a disastrous outcome is high.

Jan 26, 2015 at 11:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

MJ: you do have a point (sort of); however, I like to think that were I to be selected for a committee like this – ANY committee – I would have the gumption to educate myself a little about the subject, if only to ensure that I am not led by the nose by an advisor who has an axe to grind. Were the committee to also have members who most definitely DO have an axe to grind, I would make sure that my education on the subject was a bit more than a little, and contrary to those others.

Jan 26, 2015 at 11:23 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Lance Armstrong is on the radio "Of course I had cheat, everyone was in on it, they were all cheating, unless you did as well you didn't stand a chance"
... Do you see the climate parallels ?
..In cycling there were the 1. cheats, 2. people who knew but played along, 3. people who didn't see any cheating cos they rushed to accept the reassurances rather than give an ear to 4. honest people who actually knew what they were talking about.
As @MJ says it is difficult to judge anyone until you walk in their shoes. However top respect to all those people who exposed cheating in cycling , but society doesn't give them 5% of the respect it gave the cheats over all those years .. although God might reward them eventually and they sleep in their beds at night.

Jan 27, 2015 at 12:35 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Neil Armstrong's Team = Lance Armstrong's Team
What was NASA's 2014 record temperature about ?
It was about that from October they had shouting "2014 will be the hottest year ever"
So by January 1st they had no option but to announce a hotter temperature they had too much invested in it already. They had painted themselves into the corner.
- The real temperature if the planet could be anything eg 0.5C below or above what they said, not that I think it matters much.
.. Without the buildup, they could have said "the temp we got is around the same as most years recently"
but no they didn't they did their Bull Schmidt press conference, where they produced a 0.02C rise out of the hat, explicity failing to mention any caveats or error bars. And like for cycling the compliant media just waived the flags and didn't look tp find any dirt.
- For me before 2014 there was a difference between the SkS, DSB disinformation network and NASA.

..... Lance Armstrong was cleared of doping in 1999, 2006, 2009, 2012 The Case is (was) closed.

Jan 27, 2015 at 2:33 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

A rebel amendment to the Infrastructure Bill demanding a moratorium on fracking has been heavily defeated in the House of Commons.

The clause, backed by the chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Joan Walley MP, along with Lib Dem and Labour MPs, had proposed that fracking should be "discontinued" until an "independent assessment" was carried out.

It was defeated by 308 votes to 52 during a vote on Monday, but the Government did make concessions to the bill, including a pledge not to carry out fracking in national parks.

A Labour front bench amendment, which proposed a list of conditions before fracking can take place, was also accepted by the Government.

It comes after anti-fracking campaigners called on the Government to listen to concerns over environmental risks and climate change associated with the controversial technique in a report by the committee published on Monday.

A leaked letter from George Osborne revealed how the Chancellor called on Cabinet colleagues to "make it a personal priority" to implement measures to help boost the shale industry.

The report was welcomed by campaign groups fighting against fracking.

Matt Bryan, from Frack Free Dee, earlier spoke to Sky News from their protest camp at Upton, near Chester.

He said: "It's critical that Westminster acts upon the wishes of the people who voted them in.

"The evidence is clear and it's substantiated and politicians need to start listening to the evidence that's on the table and not the evidence that's pushed for a corporate agenda."

The Government has said it is going "all out" for developing a shale industry in the UK, claiming it would create jobs and growth, not to mention much-needed energy.

"We have one of the most robust regulatory regimes for shale gas," said a statement from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

"UK shale development is compatible with our goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions and does not detract from our support for renewables."

Government adviser Professor Peter Styles added: "It's fairly understandable that nobody actually wants any disruption near their house, but I will ask them if you are not prepared to engage in the process of providing energy are you entitled to engage in the process of consuming it?"

Supporters of exploiting the unconventional gas also claim it could be a "transition" fuel helping move the UK from the most polluting fossil fuel, coal, towards a cleaner energy supply.

But Ms Walley said fracking could not be compatible with long-term commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions unless full-scale technology which captures and permanently stores carbon was rolled out rapidly - something which looked unlikely.

She said: "There are also huge uncertainties around the impact that fracking could have on water supplies, air quality and public health."

The Infrastructure Bill includes measures to make it easier for energy companies to drill under people's homes without their permission and allows them to leave "any substance" deep underground.

A protest was held outside Parliament ahead of the final debate on the bill, with speeches by Vivienne Westwood, Bianca Jagger and former UK climate envoy John Ashton.

Jan 27, 2015 at 6:04 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Phillip Bratby, do you know what the extra "safeguards" the government agreed to are?

Sounds like yet another attempt to nobble the industry with long and expensive processes which more favoured industries are exempt from.

Jan 27, 2015 at 9:25 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Of course if CCS was feasible then the faux-greens would object strongly to that too.

They just don't want fossil fuels anywhere at any time. Exactly why can be gleaned from this transcript.....

CO2 is just the convenient excuse! They really want less consumption, production, growth, houses, roads, cars and planes. These regressive measures will only apply to the plebs though while the green patricians will continue to do whatever they feel like.

Jan 27, 2015 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG


The details are I think the New Clause 19, as cited in Hansard here:

Jan 27, 2015 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

I note from Hansard the following exchange:

Caroline Lucas: What the Minister has said, essentially, is that DEFRA should not do research that might possibly become embarrassing if it become public. How on earth does she expect people to have any confidence in the Government’s policies on fracking if the Government cannot even put the research in the public domain?

Amber Rudd: I do not think the hon. Lady quite heard my comments. If somebody in another Department has prepared something, a junior member perhaps, and it was not appropriate for them to have done so, which is a comment I have fairly made, I do not think it is appropriate for it to be released. It could mislead the public. It is because I am so concerned about the public that we have taken this view.

Sounds like Greenies have infiltrated the Civil Service and are trying to pass off rubbish as well informed policy opinion. But I guess we know that already. After all, the politicians have been at the same game.

Jan 27, 2015 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

BTEX scare in Gloucester, Australia - Greens/media will be dancing as fracking op voluntary suspended. Doesn't seem that dangerous to me. And I wonder if it's activist sabotage. As its it is not used in fracking in the US anymore (inert compounds are used instead) although it might be naturally in oil deposits. "None of the fracking fluids used by AGL at Waukivory contained any of the chemicals detected, and they are likely to be naturally occurring in the coal seams about 600 metres below ground level" AGL said Skynews

"BTEX Chemicals found in AGL coal seam gas flow back water" "just reported even tho found on Jan 15th EPA
- "The properties of BTEX compounds mean that most releases end up in the atmosphere, although some can be bound (relatively briefly) to soils and sediments. They react with other air pollution and are broken down, "
" higher concentrations resulting from a spillage are moderately toxic to aquatic life. Significant bio-accumulation and concentration through the food chain is unlikely"

To people "Exposure to BTEX at normal environmental concentrations, and even to higher concentrations over a short period of time, is unlikely to damage health significantly. However long-term exposure to higher concentrations"

"- BTEX is the term used to describe a group of chemicals related to benzene. This includes a variety of compounds: toluene (methyl benzene), ethyl benzene, xylenes and benzene itself. These compounds are usually colourless, sweet-smelling liquids which evaporate easily. They mix well with organic solvents, but do not dissolve well in water (and may float on the surface before evaporating into the air)"
source Scottish EPA

Jan 27, 2015 at 12:38 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Thank you for the transcript, Alex - sterling work!

Do I detect a preponderance of wimmin among the delusional greens?

Jan 27, 2015 at 1:09 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Hysterical nutcases are ramping up the scare " vote #greens DONT BELIEVE MINING SPIN deadly FRACK btex radioactive destroying all AUSTRALIA "
Note the Scottish EPA in previous post doesn"t think it's particularly dangerous

And in the Corp statement the levels seem very low
1 test had half part per million, the natural background level in water in other places nearby before they started was a 1/10th of that.
- And 4 other tests found levels around that background level

Jan 27, 2015 at 1:17 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

For a further look at the "thoughts" of Joan Whalley, read her address to WWF in August 2014. Climate Change Deniers, 97%Consensus, she obviously gets all the right briefings, probably from Bob a Job at the Grantham Institute.

Jan 27, 2015 at 6:25 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

You nailed it Terry- what a bunch of know-nothing dorks.

Every last one a public parasite.

Jan 27, 2015 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

Thanks, it doesn't add up. These conditions are presumably in addition to whatever regulatory requirements would normally apply. And most of them are bollocks.

For instance, why would you need to "monitor" the area for 12 months before you start? Monitor it for what? It's just a needless delay that adds deadweight costs and provides a further window for activists and objectors to cause trouble.

Another odd one is " unless planning authorities have considered the cumulative impact of hydraulic fracturing activities in the local area" - which is so broad and meaningless that the company could be in court for years arguing about what it means.

I can't see why any of the conditions on that list would not already be covered by existing regulations, or otherwise just be more roadblocks.

But it seems that no-one in the government has the nous or the stomach to fight for fracking - they just take the path of least resistance irrespective of the consequences.

Jan 27, 2015 at 9:15 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

@Johanna @GreensDontAddUp
you premonitor a site to collect your baseline statistics, 12 months means you have covered all seasona variations. So when "deadly carcinogen X' is detected 3 months into drilling, you can say "yes that happened last year as well .. it's from the acorns"

" path of least resistance irrespective" .. Bet they over-rule anti windfarm protestors.
Though supporting green seems the 'right' things to do
- Just like blaming aborigines seemed the 'right' things to do....
Hey Brian Wiltshire last night on 2GB last night .. Wow, questioning green dogma is forbidden on UK radio.
- I can only think that the Labor party are blackmailing Tony Abbot : boat people sorted, but what about the ABC and Climate, and giving money away to parents ? ..yes I know he doesnt control the senate

Jan 28, 2015 at 3:49 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

The oil industry in NZ has been using 'fraccing' or Hydraulic Fracturing for over 60 years with no observed ill effects.
Does the British government not actually want to release the enormous underground reserves of useable hydrocarbons that are on offer in return for a modest capital investment, or is the average Brit MP too dim to understand the fairly simple concepts involved.
Or are the Brits collectively waiting for a Good Fairy to solve their energy problems?
When I consider the sheer stupidity of this saga with the huge number of Colonials who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation during two warld wars and other less-publicised but costly armed struggles, I wonder why my father and his fathers' generations actually bothered!

Jan 28, 2015 at 3:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

you premonitor a site to collect your baseline statistics, 12 months means you have covered all seasona variations. So when "deadly carcinogen X' is detected 3 months into drilling, you can say "yes that happened last year as well .. it's from the acorns"
Well, how does that work with annual variations - e.g. dry years and wet years, warmer and cooler ones? You can never say with confidence that you have a true baseline. Indeed, precisely because of those variations, it just provides more ammunition for opponents when conditions change in future years, as they always will.

There must already be vast swathes of regulatory requirements in place for other extractive industries, not to mention those that governed existing fracking sites when they were established.

My question is - why did the government meekly accept that these are insufficient, and load up the scales even further against fracking?

Jan 28, 2015 at 4:02 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

@Jo it's about Risk vs benefits *
it's REALLY about Greens cannot do maths
so they have divide things into evil or magically good
as XX said here : "Show us your graph" is the first thing we should ask
* so the corp might decide that it needs to do a pre-year monitor for a totally new situation, but more would be ridiculous. You just need to consider 1 in 100 year floods etc. BUT BUT what pre-monitoring would you do on an already dirty site ? Say tar sands surely you just get on with it.

- So I'm with you on the regulations
all you need is 2 rules
1. Polluter pays
2. Developer must have insurance
you could add in surprise government inspections

- Why does the gov insist on over-regulation ?
1. to reassure semi-green loonies
2. Maybe the biz likes it, cos a framework is easy .If they do miss something they can argue "well that was not in the law"
3. Green blob has infected everywhere inside universities & gov depts.. just like fear of Jews 100 years ago.. Anti-Fossilfuel is the new antisemitism.
( Expressing hate is enjoyable and on some subjects, you get a free pass)

Jan 28, 2015 at 6:50 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Studies, schmuddies. Anti-frackers don't want to actually study anything. They just want to erect roadblocks.

A couple of years ago, I was told by a shale gas explorer in Poland that it takes one month on average to get permits for wells in Canada & USA. In Poland, considered the most "frack-friendly" EU country, it takes one year.
Call it inertia if you like. I call it corruption.

Jan 28, 2015 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

Well said, kellydown.

While both sides claim victory, the reality is that the regulatory thicket has just been reinforced with barbed wire.

Jan 28, 2015 at 10:15 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

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