Yorkshire MP warns UK could miss out on fracking benefits

Kevin Hollinrake
Kevin Hollinrake
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A YORKSHIRE MP whose constituency is the target of fracking firms has described the controversial mining method as an opportunity the country cannot afford to ignore.

Kevin Hollinrake said it was vital to convince the public that fracking can be carried out safely and without disturbing communities and countryside in areas such as North Yorkshire.

This opportunity could spawn tens of thousands of jobs and good jobs too.

Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake

The Thirsk and Malton warned the failure to reassure the public would lead to years of delays in developing an industry which could bring thousands of skilled jobs.

ANALYSIS: The facts, the feelings and the fears involved in the fracking furore

North Yorkshire County Council is currently considering an application by Third Energy to frack at a site close to Kirby Misperton between Malton and Pickering in Mr Hollinrake’s constituency.

Speaking in a parliamentary debate today, Mr Hollinrake said: “We need to paint the picture to local people of how this can be done in a safe and discreet way.

“In an age of computer generated imagery and simulated time-lapse photography we can and must paint the picture to the public of how we can carry out fracking safely and discreetly or risk years of delays due to public concern.”

He continued: “This is an opportunity we cannot afford to ignore.The economy is doing well and unemployment has come down under this Government but we would benefit from a clean, low cost, low carbon, home grown energy source that would support domestic businesses, create local well-paid jobs and make our economy and nation strong by generating energy for generations to come.”

Mr Hollinrake told fellow MPs that shale gas could help improve air quality standards by reducing dependence on coal and improve the UK’s energy security by reducing the country’s dependence on imported oil and gas.

He said: “This opportunity could spawn tens of thousands of jobs and good jobs too. In my constituency we have many world class engineering businesses and a first class training organisation called DTA who specialise in training light heavy electronic and electrical engineers.

“These businesses can be the innovators of the future, taking the industry forward making it cleaner and more efficient.”

Mr Hollinrake said he had not seen the “significant and widespread industrialisation of rural areas” on a trip to the United States to see the impact of fracking but acknowledge the UK needed to learn the lessons of failed regulation across the Atlantic.

Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith used the Westminster Hall debate to call for the Government to reverse its recent removal of support for the development of carbon capture and storage technology.

The White Rose Project, based at the Drax power station plant in Yorkshire, was one of the schemes competing for a share of £1 billion of Government cash until ministers scrapped the competition late last year.

Ms Smith said: “It is very difficult for the Government to make progress on gaining public acceptance for the shale gas industy and part of the argument against shale gas is always been the emissions, the problem of using fossil fuels into the forseable future.

“CCS is one of the key means by which we can deal with that issue and if there is going to be a long term future for any fossil fuel I think the Government has to think again about the abandonment of CCS technology.”

She added: “We need to understand the nascent shale gas industry offers one of those rare opportunities to create a new demand for steel, something we badly need at the moment, and a new sense of hope for a positive future for what is one of our foundation industries.”

A spokesman for the Frack Free Ryedale campaign group said: “Mr Hollinrake continues to shamelessly peddle myths about fracking in his new role as cheerleader for the industry. According to [the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s] own 2013 report, fracking could only create between 15,900 to 24,300 jobs nationally – direct and indirect – at peak construction in the mid 2020s. This would require many thousands of fracking wells across an increasingly industrialised countryside, and is far fewer than the 27,000 jobs already lost or under threat because of the government’s cuts to the renewable energy industry.

“Also, fracking is neither low-cost or good for the environment. When fugitive methane leaks are taken into account, fracked gas is even more damaging to the climate than coal, and even Lord Browne, ex-chairman of Cuadrilla, admits that fracking is not going to have a material impact on gas prices.

“Mr Hollinrake also completely ignores the widespread and increasingly worrying health dangers of fracking - the practice is banned in many places due to health and environmental concerns - and has dismissed all the evidence and testimonies from local residents from his short trip to Pennsylvania that do not fit in with the industry’s narrative. No wonder his constituents feel that he’s sold his soul to the fracking industry.”