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North Derbyshire MP opposes shale firms' calls to loosen fracking laws  

Lee Rowley, Member of Parliament for North East Derbyshire, is to lead a Parliamentary investigation into calls to loosen fracking regulations.  

The All Party Parliamentary Group on the Impact of Shale Gas, which is made-up of cross-party MPs and led by Lee Rowley, will invite experts to be questioned in Parliament next month.

The investigation is in response to recent calls from the fracking industry to loosen regulations put in place to prevent fracking-induced earthquakes, including from INEOS, the company hoping to drill in Marsh Lane.

Lee Rowley commented: “We’re holding this meeting to dig a little deeper into calls to loosen fracking regulation.

“One of the biggest concerns from residents in Marsh Lane and elsewhere in North East Derbyshire who are worried about fracking is that it could cause earthquakes that not only damage property but could lead to contamination.

“Any weakening of the regulation is wrong in my opinion and I have invited fracking regulators, fracking companies, campaign groups and scientists to join us next month to discuss my concerns.

“North East Derbyshire deserves clarity, so we want to get the experts on this issue all in one place to discuss this properly.  

“If any residents in North East Derbyshire want to submit written evidence for our group to consider, please do get in touch.”

The group will be exploring the following questions of interest:

  • Should the Traffic Light monitoring system for fracking be amended in any way?
  • Should trailing seismic events be included as part of the traffic light monitoring system?
  • Should Hydraulic Fracture Plans be allowed to plan for red events as standard?
  • What is the process for monitoring seismicity and well integrity?
  • Is there substantial independent monitoring of seismicity at sites?
  • Are regulators too reliant on data from operators?
  • Is the monitoring process transparent enough? 
  • How reliable are the seismic surveys and monitoring of the operators (detecting faults and damage to the well)?
  • Is enough attention given to below the ground impacts of fracking-induced seismicity?

In response, Jim Ratcliffe, INEOS Chairman commented, “The Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) seems to lack a basic understanding of the Richter Scale. It is a logarithmic scale. The limit within the United States is typically set at 4.0 – a level that the US Environmental Protection Agency feels is safe and will not lead to any damage to land, property or people. To put that into perspective, magnitude 4.0 is 3,162 times higher than 0.5 and 177,827 times stronger in terms of energy release.”

“The Government’s position is unworkable and unhelpful. They are playing politics with the future of the country. We have a non-existent energy strategy and are heading towards an energy crisis that will do long term and irreparable damage to the economy and the Government needs to decide whether they are finally going to put the country first and develop a workable UK onshore gas industry”

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