Members of Frack Free Nottinghamshire (FFN) visited the MP for Newark, Robert Jenrick at his constituency office on Friday 9 January, regarding the Infrastructure Bill currently making its way through Parliament. Mr Jenrick is a member of the Public Bill Committee investigating the Infrastructure Bill before it reports to the House on 15 January. Newark constituent Lis Harris along with FFN were anxious to make Mr Jenrick aware of their concerns regarding three clauses in the Bill:
- Removing landowner’s rights to object to drilling on their land (amending the Trespass Law);
- Allowing any substance (whether toxic or not) to be left underneath the land;
- Explicitly encouraging the maximising of economic gain from extraction of fossil fuels.
These clauses would inevitably relate to hydraulic fracturing of shale gas in this country, FFN wanted to put their concerns direct, so that Mr Jenrick could report direct to the Committee.
Brian Davey, Maggie Gallimore, Lis Harris (a Newark consituent) and her partner discussed the issues with Mr Jenrick and his assistant. The issues covered ranged from regulation of fracking, through the comparison of fracking in the USA to fracking in the UK, to scientific reports on the effects of fracking, and a recent publication by the British Medical Association on health issues. When Mr Jenrick was satisfied that he had been put in the picture with regard to these concerns, he asked what specific issues he should take to the Committee. Maggie suggested that he request fracking companies be forced to list ALL chemicals used throughout the fracking processes and Brian Davey added that all substances produced AFTER the fracking process should also be listed – ie radioactivity released from the rock when it is fractured, Benzine, Methane, etc. Assurances must also be made about where waste product is stored after the process – transparency is essential. Regulation, if it is ‘Gold-Standard’, must also include provision for adequate compensation if fracking caused harm in any way – a reversal of the present situation, in which insurance can be denied to homes in an area designated for fracking.
Whilst Mr Jenrick is confident that Newark itself is not at present in danger of being fracked, FFN emphasised that their fears were general and not ‘scare-mongering’ and were based on genuine scientific evidence. FFN left Mr Jenrick a compilation of 400-plus reports on the effects of fracking from sources that have experienced it, together with a summary produced by Friends of the Earth.
The meeting ended amicably, with Mr Jenrick promising to do what he could to represent the views of his constituent and Frack Free Nottinghamshire as far as he could.