Infrastructure Bill: What it means and what they said

The recent debate and vote on the Infrastructure Bill - the first such vote for MPs on fracking - had major ramifications for the environment and the UK energy mix.

Here, edie explains the major announcements that were made, with comment from key industry players.

Key points

– Labour’s accepted Clause 19 amendments banned fracking in protected areas; covering thousands of square miles including national parks, areas of natural beauty and protected groundwater zones.

– Balcombe – the scene of fracking demonstrations in 2013 – is protected under this amendment, but the proposed drill-sites in Lancashire are not. That shifts the focus of the debate towards Lancashire County – Council who will decide this week if Cuadrilla can drill in the region.

– Clause 19 also stipulates a 12-month monitoring period at any site before fracking can commence, as well as assessments by the Environment Agency.

– A proposed 30-month fracking moratorium was rejected by MP’s, meaning there is still hope for shale gas acolytes.

– Zero Carbon Homes: A rushed Commons debate meant MPs failed to provide new amendments to the Bill that would have beefed up carbon emissions standards for newly built homes

Industry reaction

Oil and gas analyst Philip Mace, partner at Clyde & Co, said: “The industry will now be thinking long and hard about its plans for unconventional oil and gas development in the UK. 

“The amendments to the bill mean the outlook for the sector is uncertain as we go into the general election and beyond. Investors loathe this sort of uncertainty – so the prospects for shale oil and gas in the UK looks bleak for the short and medium term.”

Greenpeace UK energy and climate campaigner Simon Clydesdale said the concessions were a clear sign that the ‘monolithic consensus ‘of fracking was crumbling.

“MPs are clearly feeling the heat from growing public opposition to the fracking bandwagon that wants to drill half the country.

“Banning fracking from national parks and sensitive water protection areas, though basic common sense, is a clear step forward in recognising the risks of this industry. Now that ministers have implicitly recognised that shale drilling is too risky for our nature reserves, they’ll have a tough job trying to explain why that isn’t the case across the country.”

See comments from Friends of the Earth and Labour MP’s here

The Bill: As it happened on Twitter

[<a href=”//” target=”_blank”>View the story “Infrastructure Bill: To frack or not to frack?” on Storify</a>]

Brad Allen

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie