Fracking u-turn is both humilation for the Coalition and a victory for common sense

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[Image: Eoin Clarke.]

The Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition government has given in to Labour Party demands for stern regulations on any fracking operations in the UK.

The climbdown is humiliating for the government – and particularly the Tories, who seem to have wanted fracking to be the centrepiece of its “We’ll do what we like, whether you want it or not” election campaign.

A committee of MPs called for a moratorium on fracking, on the grounds that it could derail efforts to tackle climate change – but this was ignored.

The Environmental Audit Committee also warned that there were “huge uncertainties” about the environmental impact of fracking – and this was also ignored.

But ministers pledged an “outright ban” on fracking in national parks.

And they acceded to the logic of the Labour demands, which were:

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[Image: Eoin Clarke.]

“This is a huge u-turn by the Government and big victory for the protection of Britain’s environment,” said Labour’s shadow energy and climate change secretary, Caroline Flint.

“Labour has always said that shale gas extraction cannot go ahead unless there is a system of robust regulation and comprehensive inspection, but David Cameron has repeatedly ignored people’s genuine and legitimate environmental concerns over shale gas. Now, thanks to Labour’s amendment, the Government has been forced to accept that tough protections and proper safeguards must be in place before fracking can go ahead.

“While eight out of 10 homes still rely on gas for heating, shale gas may have a role to play in displacing some of the gas we currently import and improving our energy security. But that potential benefit cannot come at the expense of robust environmental protections or our climate change commitments.”

It isn’t what everyone wanted – this writer would certainly prefer fracking to be banned from the UK altogether.

However, Labour’s regulatory system is certainly the next best thing – far better for the environment and the people of this country than anything proposed by the Tories and the Liberal Democrats, who clearly don’t care about the environment at all, despite their posturing.

It may be too much to hope that this will put the frackers off…

But at least this decision gives us hope.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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14 thoughts on “Fracking u-turn is both humilation for the Coalition and a victory for common sense

  1. Ratty

    This is Caroline Lucas’ view:

    Hi all – (further to my earlier post, which details all this), I just voted for a freeze on fracking (with cross-bench backing) – Labour abstained and the vote was lost…

    The debate was farcical – so little time was given that we weren’t even able to bring the trespass amendment to vote. That amendment sought to prevent fracking companies being awarded sweeping new powers to frack beneath your home without your consent – a move opposed by 99% of respondents to the Government’s own consultation. It was backed in a petition by 360,000 people. When it came to a freeze on fracking, Labour abstained. Instead they served up their own superficial tweaks, lacking in detail and riddled with loopholes. The strength of public feeling on this issue is palpable – and I think it’s intensified still further in the face of the astonishing lack of transparency, lack of accountability and lack of regard for the views of voters.

    People won’t be silenced on this. In the run up to the crucial Paris climate talks later this year, the pressure to ditch plans for fracking and instead invest in clean home-grown renewable energy will continue to grow…

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      “Labour abstained and the vote was lost…” Oh really? Isn’t it more accurate to say that the vote would have been lost whether Labour had taken part or not? Check Hansard – that’s what is indicated there.
      This is more anti-Labour rhetoric from Ms Lucas, who should know better. The enemy is over on the Government benches!

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Read the new article on the fracking debate. It might provide a little insight into Labour’s reasoning.

  2. Ian

    Labour abstained on the fracking moratorium in Scotland and the vote was lost. They must really want to lose up there. Labour/SNP coalition in May..?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Clearly they didn’t think they could win, so they supported the regulations instead – and backed a winner.
      Didn’t Jim Murphy want the moratorium in Scotland, though?

  3. Annette

    To not vote for a moratorium on fracking when the Environmental Audit Commission said there was no place for fracking in the UK was wrong.

    And as for Mike’s comment – are Labour only ever going to vote when they can win a victory?

    Pathetic- this plus Trident … the Labour party seem determined to find at least a couple of things each week to stop me voting for them.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Unfortunately, it didn’t matter what the Commission said about fracking when there were people on the Government benches who were going to support it at any cost.

  4. Neil Ross

    I think your analysis falls for the increasingly ludicrous Labour hubris.

    What happened, was that Labour essentially spiked a Lib Dem motion (NC9) which many on the new left were behind. Their numbers may not have passed it, granted, but as a matter of principle to their constituents, you’d think they would’ve turned out. Jim Murphy was in Aberdeen playing football, and my MP, Mr Brown was nowhere to be seen. (Come to that, has anyone seen him lately? He’s threatening to break his 12% turnout rate before he retires!) Their absence (not merely abstention) speaks volumes.
    The 13 clauses they inserted instead, add nothing to the existing regulations worth crowing about, and do nothing about the job losses among the authorities who are tasked with looking after said regulations.
    They didn’t have to turn out for that, because the Tories were quite happy with the proposal, so let it through unhindered. Now we have various Labour North Britain Branch Office people (see Margaret Curran for a good example) saying on Twitter that they turned up and won us this fantastical anti-fracking world, when Hansard proves they weren’t even there.
    So, in the end, they get a nice pat on the head from the Tories, and a chance to stick the head on the Lib Dems. Come to that, the Lib Dems didn’t even support their own man’s motion (Jeremy Huppert), but that’s a side show, as far as the Labour hubristic delusion goes. They’re all over the place claiming a great victory when it was nothing of the sort.

    What we needed was a moratorium, so we could get some breathing space to take stock of all the other moratoria and outright bans which have happened elsewhere. Germany, France, Poland, even the USA.
    What we get, is yet more establishment skullduggery and Labour doublespeak: Jim Murphy wants a moratorium, and is trying to throw the onus onto the Scottish Government? Bull, pure unadulterated bull. His party set their face against it in the Smith Commission, and it’s still a matter reserved to Westminster, and today’s debacle did nothing to change that. But the organisation who cannot directly do anything about it, are supposed to do something about it?

    And you wonder why some of us ex-Yessers are a wee bit wound up? Becuase this is the bull we’ve had to put up with: while it was contained within Scotland, it was easily dismissed by everybody else. But now it’s out in the open, UK-wide. Free range organic bull at its’ finest, Labour style. You’ve seen it in action today. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Hansard proves Margaret Curran was there.

      I don’t think we’ve heard the last from Labour on fracking.

      We’ll see who’s spreading bull, in the long run.

      1. Neil Ross

        I’ll stand corrected about Curran’s presence: but the fact remains, that Labour are saying one thing and doing another. Then their buddies in the MSM faithfully report the line, and there we have it. The bull is there for all to see.

        As I’ve said before, I agree with you about a lot of things: but this is where I will criticise. The Labour party needs to wake up, and wake up fast. You, as an activist, are the kind of person who should be ringing the alarm bells.
        This is not the Labour I grew up with, and voted for. It’s a disingenuous, hubristic monster, which is doing UK politics a disservice.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Labour has very few ‘buddies’ in the mainstream media. And I think many of its critics at the moment have an ulterior motive.

  5. Neil Ross

    You want to come up here and have a look at every newspaper, bar The National and sometimes The Herald, then.
    Every single lie repeated faithfully without criticism. Don’t even start me on the BBC. Why do you think Andrew Neill had Murphy on the rack? Because Murphy doesn’t get that level of questioning up here. He’s not used to it.

    BBC Scotland and the Lab Scottish branch is another revolving door arrangement. And they’ll faithfully carry out the twin dogmas of ‘SNP BAD’ and ‘Vote Lab or else Tories’.

    So, it really seems that way, and like I say, perceptions are important too. We see a corrupt system propped up by a supine press. An ineffectual opposition, who seem to want power for power’s sake.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      What lies? Why do you call them lies? Are these statements that nationalists have claimed were lies, that turned out to be factually accurate under analysis?
      There’s a lot of that about at the moment, and it makes the Nats look despicable.
      Perception is important. That’s why the SNP is doing itself no good at all by letting its supporters mess up its reputation.
      As for Labour being ineffectual – you need to check your recent history.

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