On Wednesday 7th September, there is an Evidence Session on community compensation payment for communities affected by fracking. The meeting is in Committee Room 9 of the Palace of Westminster, and runs from 3.00 – 5.00 pm.
Compensation for fracking, eh? That’s a hot topic at the moment.
Indeed it is, certainly since the announcement last month of possible fracking pay-offs of up to £10,000 to people in affected communities, which hit the headlines last month. However, this has now been shown to be a bit pie-in-the-sky and wouldn’t happen for five or ten years, if ever, as outlined in this article in the Yorkshire Post and this in the Guardian.
Who is organising this meeting?
This is a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Shale Gas Regulation and Planning. According to their website, “The APPG was formed in 2016 to collect evidence, discuss and produce a report on effective and robust regulation and planning of shale gas exploration if such activity goes ahead. It will also consider proposals for ensuring that community benefit is received from any such activity.”
I would imagine that representatives of various communities threatened by fracking have been invited.
You would think so, wouldn’t you? However, the agenda for the meeting on Wednesday shows that only a single representative of threatened communities has been invited along. This is the estimable Rt Revd Graham Cray, who lives in Kirby Misperton, only a few hundred metres from the proposed fracking well-site at KM8. You can read a statement from Revd Cray here, and an interview with him here.
Who else has been invited to speak and answer questions?
So, that’s three fracking companies (Third Energy, iGas and INEOS), their trade body (UKOOG), a gas pipeline company (Northern Gas Networks), and an organisation that advises clients on how to distribute funds to communities (UK Community Foundations).
That seems a bit unbalanced. What about people in communities threatened by fracking in Lancashire? You know, those who live near Preston New Road and Roseacre?
And those who might be affected in South and East Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the Wye Valley, Surrey, Scotland … I could go on.
The chairman of the APPG is Ryedale MP Mr Kevin Hollinrake, whose Thirsk and Malton constituency includes the only fracking well currently approved in the UK, at Kirby Misperton, and one of the most openly pro-fracking MPs in the country.
Isn’t he the ‘Not Near My House’ guy?
The very same.
Wasn’t he forced to resign from this APPG earlier in the year?
That was a different APPG, one on Unconventional Oil and Gas. Mr Hollinrake was forced to resign by his constituents, claiming he didn’t know it was funded entirely by the oil and gas industry. You can read about this in this report in the Northern Echo, entitled MP SLAMMED FOR JUMPING FRACKING GUN, and if you want more background on his resignation, click here.
OK, I’m beginning to see a pattern. So who’s funding Mr Hollinrake’s new APPG?
Is that legal?
Probably. To be honest, nobody seems to have checked. However, it does seem rather odd that an MP – particularly one who is now a Parliamentary Private Secretary to a key member of Theresa May’s cabinet, the leader of the House of Commons David Lidington MP – is allowed to set up his own APPG and pay for it out of his own pocket, ostensibly to help him and his friends in the fracking industry achieve their goals.
You mean by not inviting people opposed to fracking to speak at his own APPG?
So what can I do about it?
I was wondering when you’d get round to asking that. There are some very quick and easy things you can do to raise this issue of fairness and balance. Here’s a list:
– You can email Mr Hollinrake to protest about the lack of community representation at this Wednesday’s APPG. If you are from a community threatened by fracking, please mention that in your email. As always, please be respectful and polite in your correspondence. We don’t do abuse, and name-calling doesn’t help our cause. Here’s Mr Hollinrake’s email address: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Or if you prefer, you could always phone his constituency office and pass on your views over the phone, the number is: 01347 666 880. Try and speak to Mr Hollinrake in person, but if you can’t, then please leave a short message with his staff.
– You can also contact your MP and ask him or her to go along to the APPG and raise the issue of lack of community representation. Whatever side of the debate your MP is on, it shouldn’t be hard to convince him or her that having one bishop against five fracking organisation is not exactly a level playing field.
– And if you’re in or near London, you can go along to the APPG yourself and watch the proceedings as all APPGs are open to the public. The meeting is this Wednesday 7th September, in Committee Room 9 in the Palace of Westminster, from 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm.
– If you live in an area threatened by fracking, why not send a press release to your local press and media outlets, asking why representatives from your area had not been invited to the meeting, and explaining that your community’s concerns about fracking are being ignored?
– You can also email all the other members of the APPG – shown here – expressing your outrage that local communities are not being adequately represented at the meeting. To make life easier, here are all their email addresses in a row so you can just cut and paste this into the To: line.
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
The other three members are Lord Truscott MP, Lord Young and Baroness Young. You can contact them separately at email@example.com and put in the names of the person you want the email to go to in the subject line.
You don’t get out much, do you?
You have no idea. But thanks for helping. And please share this information far and wide today, there’s not long till the meeting. We will leave the final words to Kevin Hollinrake …