Infrastructure Bill – Briefing Update

images[1]The Infrastructure Bill contains numerous damaging sections, including various clauses on fracking. You can find out more on the dedicated Infrastructure Bill Facebook page.

Here are the three most worrying sections of the Bill from a fracking perspective.

Maximising economic recovery

Clause 36 includes a requirement for oil and gas companies to maximise economic recovery of hydrocarbons, which is in clear opposition to the internationally recognised need to slow down (and soon stop) the extraction of fossil fuels. This is already being used as an excuse by these companies to ignore environmental considerations by claiming that they are legally compelled to recover as much oil or gas as possible, whatever the consequences.

Amazingly, the government’s position appears to claim that ‘maximising economic recovery’ of fossil fuels will help reduce climate change. as stated here: “It is vital, both for Britain’s energy security and long-term economic outlook, that steps are taken to maximise the economic recovery of our indigenous hydrocarbon reserves. This approach is consistent with the Government’s decarbonisation objectives.”
You can read more about this in an excellent briefing by Beki Adams on the Talk Fracking site.

The Trespass Law

In its current form the Infrastructure Bill will change the centuries-old Trespass laws, allowing fracking companies to drill under people’s homes and land without their permission – despite 99% of people who responded to the consultation being against it. There’s more on this in the Daily Telegraph.

The Cameron Loophole

The Infrastructure Bill also includes the now infamous Cameron Loophole, which is an amendment that permits the “passing any substance through, or putting any substance into, deep-level land” and gives “the right to leave deep-level land in a different condition from [that before] including by leaving any infrastructure or substance in the land”. There is more on this in The Guardian.

Amendments

However, there is a way to stop this. Two MPs, Norman Baker and Caroline Lucas, have tabled amendments to remove the clauses related to fracking (Clause 36 and 38-43).

Please email your MP TODAY and ask him/her to support these amendments when the Bill returns to the Commons for a vote. These amendments are being discussed this week, so there is no time to lose!

If your MP is Anne McIntosh, her email is anne.mcintosh.mp@parliament.uk.
If you have a different MP, you can find his or her email address on TheyWorkForYou.com.

Here is a draft email you could customise and adapt.

Dear …

I am writing to you regarding the Infrastructure Bill, which is currently in Committee stage in the House of Commons. There are various aspects of this Bill that I feel need to be removed, particularly  changes in the law relating to fracking.

 

Clause 36 includes a requirement to ‘maximise economic recovery of oil and gas in the UK’, which will place economic recovery above any and all environmental considerations and is in effect a green light to allow companies to increase greenhouse gases and climate change. 

Clauses 38-43 contain two of the most damaging parts of the Bill. Firstly, the change in the Trespass Law, which will enable companies to drill under people’s homes without their permission (which as my may remember was opposed by 99% of all respondents in the Government’s Recent consultation). 

This section would also permit the “passing any substance through, or putting any substance into, deep-level land” and gives “the right to leave deep-level land in a different condition from [that before] including by leaving any infrastructure or substance in the land”. 

This would be tantamount to giving fracking companies a completely free pass to dump waste frack water [which would be contaminated by carcinogens such as benzene] and any other type of toxic waste [including nuclear waste] under the ground with no oversight whatsoever. 

It is also interesting to note that this clause was added very late on in committee in the House of Lords by Baroness Kramer, and was not part of the original bill. It is astonishing that such a clause could be added to the Bill that could have such dire environmental consequences after the Public Consultation has finished, with no objective and independent oversight, and it is questionable as to whether this is even legal. 

Two other MPs, Norman Baker and Caroline Lucas, have tabled amendments to remove these sections from the Bill and I do hope you will vote for these amendments when the Bill returns to the Commons. 

Also, please encourage other MPs to support these amendments and make sure that these clauses do not become law. 

I look forward to hearing your views on this. 

Yours sincerely

 

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