Bill in favour of hydraulic fracturing is ‘necessary,’ claims Lib Dem MP

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Sir Robert Smith MP has voted in favour of the nationally controversial Infrastructure Bill, at its Second

Reading.

The Bill, which contains clauses that would change trespass law in order to allow companies to drill under people’s homes without their permission, has now been committed to a Public Bill Committee.

Sir Robert, Liberal Democrat MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, believes the vote is necessary.

He said: ““I voted in favour of the Infrastructure Bill at its Second Reading. This is a wide-ranging Bill that will make new provisions for highways, the control of invasive non-native species, changes to community energy projects, as well as provisions for onshore drilling exploration.

‘‘Basically, it brings the law on drilling below 300m into line with coal mining. Some areas of the country have been identified as having potential reserves of gas. Only by drilling can that potential be established.

“Readers of the Piper are unlikely to see hydraulic fracturing, as the geology of much of the North-east appears to be unsuitable.

“To date, the Scottish Government has not ruled out allowing hydraulic fracturing to take place in Scotland. Any drilling in Scotland will need to comply with the planning and environmental rules set by the Scottish Parliament.

“The licencing of onshore oil and gas extraction will also be transferred to the Scottish Parliament under proposals from the Smith Commission.”

A Friends of the Earth spokesperson said: “Some 99% of people who responded to the Government consultation opposed this proposed change in trespass law.

“Not only has Government ignored this, but they have gone further to allow companies toleave any substance under the ground indefinitely without even notifying the landowner.”

Dennis Robertson, SNP MSP for Aberdeenshire West and Kincardineshire, said: “First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made clear that she is sceptical about hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, and has made clear the Scottish Government’s cautious, considered and evidence-based approach on this issue.

‘‘This stands in contrast to the gung-ho approach of the UK Government. Environmental concerns and the views of our local communities must remain the top priority.

‘‘We are completely opposed to the UK Government’s plans to allow drilling under people’s houses without any right of objection.

‘‘The UK Government announced in September that they are proceeding with proposals outlined in the underground drilling access consultation document – in spite of over 99% of all respondents opposing the proposal to legislate to provide automatic underground access to gas, oil and geothermal below 300 metres. The Scottish Government formally opposed these proposals.”

Aberdeenshire Green Councillor Martin Ford said: “Fracking makes no sense and, as a technique, should be opposed across the board.

‘‘Given the accepted, urgent, need to combat climate change by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, pursuing additional fossil fuel reserves is the last thing we should be doing.

‘‘The focus must be on moving to renewable energy and developing that.

‘‘There are local pollution issues associated with fracking, so it is doubly disappointing when representatives from areas at risk support it.”