Parliamentary motion calls for fracking buffer zones in former mining areas

MPs from former mining areas are among supporters of a parliamentary motion calling for 500m gaps between fracking and ex collieries. The motion was proposed by Labour’s John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw, whose constituency includes shale gas exploration sites operated by IGas at Springs Road, Misson, and Tinker Lane, near Blyth.

Mr Mann’s motion also calls for an 850m buffer zone between fracking and significant natural fractures or faults. It urges the Local Government Secretary, James Brokenshire, to require fracking applications in mining areas to include all the available, high-resolution maps of faults.

The motion has been sponsored by Sir Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley, who spoke out last month against Ineos plans for shale gas drilling at Harthill. Other sponsors include Mike Amesbury (Labour, Weaver Vale), Ronnie Campbell (Labour, Blyth Valley), Kelvin Hopkins (Labour, Luton North) and Jim Shannon (DUP, Strangford).

They welcome a report by Professor Peter Styles, a past President of the Geological Society, launched in parliament this week.Professor Styles warned of an increased risk of earthquakes from fracking under previously-mined areas. It said fracking companies had failed to use all available geological data when applying for planning permission.

The motion urges Mr Brokenshire and local authorities to place a moratorium on fracking in former mining areas while they consider the conclusions of Professor Styles’ report. Early day motions are formal motions, submitted for debate in the House of Commons. Very few are actually debated but they allow MPs to draw attention to an issue or event.

Text of the early day motion:

This House welcomes the contribution of Professor Emeritus Peter Styles of Keele University, past-President of the Geological Society and formerly advisor on fracking seismology to Prime Minister David Cameron and the Department for the Environment and Climate Change on his new report presented to the Yorkshire Geological Society on the likely impact of fracking in former coalfield areas and the increased earthquake risks; notes Professor Styles’s demonstration of the significantly enhanced risk of earthquakes posed by fracking beneath coal-mined areas where mining-induced seismicity has already occurred; further notes his conclusion that this may have a significant impact on estimates of UK frackable gas reserves; calls on the Government to introduce a 500-metre buffer zone between former mine workings and current technologies for extracting unconventional energy sources and implement the 2015 and 2018 recommendations of an 850 metre buffer zone between fracking and any significant natural fractures or faults; urges the Government to examine the industry’s capability and capacity to identify faults or fractures likely to lead to any prohibited seismic events; further urges the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to adopt Professor Styles’s best practice recommendation that planning applications for any fracking site include all available, high-resolution, carefully mapped data sets and incorporate these in the National Planning Policy Framework, with reference to applications to frack; and further calls on the Government and local authorities to place a moratorium on fracking-related activities in coalfield areas which consider Professor Styles’s findings and report their conclusions.

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