Decision by former MP to link up with fracking firm criticised

Former North East Derbyshire MP, Natascha Engel.
Former North East Derbyshire MP, Natascha Engel.

The decision by former MP for north east Derbyshire, Natascha Engel, to link up with the firm which wants to carry out fracking in the district, has been criticised.

Chemical firm Ineos has commissioned the former Labour MP to write an ‘information booklet’ on shale gas exploration.

Councillor Anne Western, leader of the Labour group at Derbyshire County Council.

Councillor Anne Western, leader of the Labour group at Derbyshire County Council.

The company has applied to drill for shale gas in Marsh Lane, near Eckington, has said the booklet will be made available to the local community and will ‘explain shale exploration and development’. 
Responding to the announcement, Anne Western, leader of Derbyshire Labour Group, said: “Natascha Engel’s decision to work on behalf of Ineos is shocking and disappointing. Natascha’s views on fracking are entirely her own and do not represent Labour Party policy or the views of many Labour members.”
And Bolsover MP Dennis Skinner said: “The Labour Party is totally against fracking. Our policy, adopted at the party conference in 2016, is to ban fracking completely in the UK and to back clean technologies and renewable energy.
“I have been campaigning against fracking locally and in Parliament. I recently raised the matter with Theresa May at PMQs because of the water contamination at Oxcroft.
“Unlike Lee Rowley, who made it clear last week during a Westminster Hall debate that he doesn’t oppose fracking in principle, only in north east Derbyshire, I am against fracking wherever it is proposed.”

Ineos said the book will ‘explain more about combating climate change, energy needs, and the positive impact on jobs, training, industry and community benefits’.

Explaining her decision to link up with Ineos, last week Ms Engel said: “I saw first-hand what the impacts are on small communities when they hear about a shale gas application near them – even when it’s only for exploratory drilling. What people want is information. They want to know how it will affect them and they want reassurance that it is safe. I hope that this booklet will provide some of those certainties.”
She added: “Most of all I hope that this will allow Ineos to work constructively with communities so that local people gain the most in terms of the jobs and apprenticeships that this industry could bring – something I have campaigned on for most of my adult life.”
And Tom Pickering, operations director at Ineos shale, said: “Natascha will give us a better insight into the needs and concerns of residents. As a former Labour MP and trade unionist, Natascha has always made the case for good jobs, as well as health and safety. At the same time, Natascha is well placed to give us a full understanding of local issues and help us to continue to be an open and inclusive organisation.”