Over 30 people attended a meeting of the APPG Shale Gas Regulation & Planning this week. There was robust discussion on the topics of both financial compensation and the position of well sites in relation to homes. Members of the cross-party group, representatives from the gas industry and other concerned individuals came to give evidence. Staff from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, journalists and members of the public also attended.
There was a frank debate about the idea of compensating residents living near to where drilling is taking place. It was argued that any individual compensation could be potentially divisive and that options for money going into a more inclusive community fund might be preferable.
The other main issue addressed on Wednesday’s meeting was the regulation of the proximity of new shale gas extraction sites to homes and businesses and the overall numbers of well pads. Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, led the argument for a setting an agreed distance in order to protect residents as much as possible from any potential disturbance, for example, from increased traffic or noise from the work. Although the issue was discussed Mr. Hollinrake felt that a lot more needed to be done and firm guidelines put in place.
“I believe it went well and was very useful. Community concerns were forcefully made by local resident Right Reverend Cray and the MPs and Peers present were able to cross examine the gas operating companies on industry body. It was very apparent that there is a need for more clarity in terms of likely impact on the landscape and community compensation. We will continue our investigations to make sure that work is carried out without significant damage to the countryside and environment.”
During the meeting those people invited to give evidence not only got the chance to raise their questions but also took questions from the public. Among those was Bishop Graham Cray who lives near the existing well at Kirby Misperton where an application for shale gas exploration has been made. He is one of many representatives from various community groups opposed to fracking who has been asked to give evidence to the committee over the course of the APPG’s meetings.
The next meeting will take place on Tuesday 8 November and has been scheduled to focus on community issues. Among those expected to attend include representatives from the the Roseacre Awareness Group from the Fylde and also from The Mars Parent Group from Pennsylvania, USA where Mr Hollinrake visited last year during a fact finding tour of the area where Shale Gas extraction was taking place.