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Labour – asleep at the wheel on fracking regulation?

“Dear Aunty, is it true that Labour were the party in power when fracking licences were last offered up?”

Well, yes, it is true sweeties.

And it just goes to show the extent to which Labour MPs are now prepared to use shale gas as a political football.

You see, the 13th Landward  Licensing Round for onshore oil and gas was opened in November 2007 with applications closing in February 2008.

Cuadrilla, by way of example, was granted its Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence, PEDL165, later that year in September 2008 by The Rt. Hon. John Hutton MP, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Refom (BERR).

(You can see a full list of licence awards here)

John Hutton is now Lord Hutton of Furness, and here you can find confirmation that he was Secretary of State at BERR in 2008, under the last Labour administration.

More recently, we’ve heard from Tom Greatrex, Caroline Flint, Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn at Labour about the weaknesses of environmental legislation as it relates to shale gas and fracking poppets, but let’s consider this for a moment:

These Labour politicians appear to be suggesting that the last Labour government handed out licences for fracking despite perceived deficiencies in the regulations.  And it’s not as if they can argue that the process was new – fracking for shale gas took off in the US in 2000, eight years before.

Just let that sink in for a moment my loves…

That’s right: if we are to believe the comments now made by Tom Greatrex, Caroline Flint, Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn, there is only one logical conclusion we can draw, and that’s that the previous Labour government was asleep at the wheel on fracking regulation when it recklessly handed out PEDLs the length and breadth of the UK.

Of course, the reality is that fracking was already adequately regulated even back in 2008, when I’m sure that Gordon Brown as Prime Minister, and his Chancellor Alistair Darling, would have been very eager to get their hands on the potential tax revenues of this new domestic energy source.

The only reason that Tom Greatrex, Caroline Flint, Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn are so outspoken on the issue right now is because their party is in opposition.

Now consider this also:

Since 2008, we’ve seen environmental regulation in Britain strengthened, particularly as it relates to shale gas operations.  The Environmental Permitting Regulations (England and Wales) 2010 not only transposed the EC Mining Waste Directive – which directly regulates shale gas activities – but also absorbed the environmental controls of the earlier Radioactive Substances Act 1993 and introduced tighter controls on NORM – which, again, directly impacts shale gas extraction.   The EC Waste Incineration Directive of 2000 has also now been integrated into the Environmental Permitting regime, where it is used to regulate gas flaring at shale sites, and the EC Groundwater Directive is also deployed via the Environmental Permitting system.

So, in actual fact, since the last Labour government handed out all those fracking licences – which it was clearly comfortable doing on the basis of the controls in place at the time – environmental protections have increased sweeties.

Yes, dears, that’s right.  It’s better regulated now than it was back then, when Labour were in charge.

I think that’s rather telling of the position that Tom Greatrex, Caroline Flint, Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn have all been taking, a position that not only risks the prospect of new jobs and investment but that endangers the existing onshore oil and gas workforce.

Who would have guessed that Labour, supposedly the party of working people, would be prepared to gamble with the livelihoods of ordinary working families just to score political points against their Tory rivals?

Until next time xxx

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