MP’S COLUMN: Fracking isn’t the answer to our energy issues in the UK, says Lee Rowley

Lee Rowley,
Lee Rowley,

The fight against fracking stepped up a gear when I introduced my first bill into the House of Commons – to protect, in law, the current regulations on earthquakes that can be caused by fracking activities.

As many residents know, a site between Marsh Lane and Coal Aston was given permission last year for initial drilling to take place to see whether it could be used for fracking in the future. This exploratory application was opposed by thousands of local residents last year, given the implications for the village of Marsh Lane, the traffic movements, the loss of agricultural land, the placing of industrial equipment in greenbelt and for many other reasons. Sadly, despite our best efforts, the decision was made to allow drilling – although none has yet started.

Lee Rowley,

Lee Rowley,

What did happen towards the end of last year was that full fracking was attempted elsewhere (over in Lancashire) for the first time in eight years. That was a foretaste of what could happen in Marsh Lane if the exploratory drilling happens and the fracking industry finds gas underneath us. Despite their best efforts, the attempts to frack in Lancashire wasn’t that successful and, eventually, the company doing it stopped just before Christmas. In attempting to frack, however, over fifty small earthquakes were caused in just a two month period close to the site near Blackpool. After this attempt, fracking companies came out and asked the Government to loosen the current regulations on earthquakes around fracking – essentially they want to be able to cause larger ones in order to give fracking a greater chance to be successful.

Fracking was already highly controversial before the earthquake issue reared its head. For it to be successful, and for it to have any impact on reducing gas imports from foreign countries, it will likely need thousands of wells across the country. That would mean areas like North East Derbyshire having dozens of wells in a very small area – each with thousands of vehicle movements, pipelines etc. I think that is completely inappropriate and one of the reasons I have worked hard on behalf of local residents to try to stop fracking since 2017.

Now, with this new issue regarding earthquakes, it highlighted even more clearly why fracking isn’t the answer. And that’s why I have proposed a law that says the earthquake threshold can’t be raised. Fracking isn’t the answer to our energy issues in the United Kingdom and should not be permitted to affect communities in the way it is proposed. I will continue to work to stop it in Parliament.