Mark Menzies MP – Can you help unravel this mystery?
Over the last few weeks a number of commentators have become increasingly concerned that the report from the Committee on Climate Change to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, produced under the direction of the 2015 Infrastructure Act, has not been made public.
This report deals with the question of whether the exploitation of onshore petroleum resources (including shale gas) is compatible with meeting UK carbon budgets.
The report was produced as required by the end of March but there has been no response yet from the government. Such a response is required by the Act to be provided “as soon as is practicable”.
Recent replies from Angela Leadsom to written enquiries from two MPs have produced neither a reason for the delay, nor a date for a DECC response.
It was originally suggested in April that Easter and a pre-election “purdah” period might have caused a short delay. However
there seems no reasonable excuse for any further delay now.
We would therefore ask Mr Menzies whether he can himself establish what the situation is with regard to this report and push for an early release of both the report and the government’s required response to it.
There is a need for urgency here because Cuadrilla presented evidence to the Inspector during the recent planning inquiry into the LCC refusals of their shale gas applications, relying strongly on a ministerial statement from Amber Rudd.
The QC for Cuadrilla told the Inspector that the statement confirmed a national need for shale exploration due in part to anticipated climate change benefits. She told the inspector that Ms Rudd’s statement said shale gas has an important part to play in helping the UK meet its climate change obligations. The inspector was told “The inspector should continue to give
the statement very great weight as the government’s stated position.”
The inspector has suggested a date for her report on the appeals as being early July.
If there is now new evidence emerging that the government may be obliged to shift its position on whether shale gas has a positive role in tackling climate change, it seems vital that the Inspector should consider this new position before producing a final report.
The suggestion has come from elsewhere that the government is withholding publication of the CCC report and its
response, because of embarrassment over how this might affect its onshore petroleum policy.
It is vital, if the planning inspector is to indeed take government policy into account, that she has full access to
the report and the government response before concluding her own judgement on the appeals.
We have therefore written to Mr Menzies requesting his assistance in this matter and look forward to hearing what he has is able to reveal.