Not so Fast with the Fracking, Britain

by Andrew Stuttaford

The UK may have great hopes of a fracking future, but the EU may well have other plans. EU Referendum’s Richard North is back on the case:

Sounding the alarm last week about [EU] Commission plans to regulate shale gas “fracking” was Owen Paterson [the Conservative Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs], who has been lobbying behind the scenes to head off this potentially damaging measure at the pass.However, as this blog reported back in October, the Commission is committed procedurally to producing a legislative proposal, otherwise damaging European Parliament amendments go ahead. We can expect a formal proposal either this month or next. This is despite the much-hyped Cut EU Red Tape initiative, sponsored by David Cameron, asking Brussels to avoid making new laws to control shale gas exploitation, an entreaty which has been completely ignored in Brussels, despite attempts by the Prime Minister to put it on the agenda at the last European Council.

Pause to ponder the fact that Cameron is still claiming that he can “renegotiate” the terms of British EU membership with these people.

North notes that Cameron has written to Commission President Barroso warning him that new EU laws could kill off investment in fracking at a “critical and early stage”:

According to The Times (paywall) – set out in more detail here – the Prime Minister is arguing that long delays and uncertainty caused by new legislation were a “major case for concern”. Mr Cameron has warned that EU competitors, such as China and the US, where gas prices have plummeted as a result of shale gas, are “already ahead of us in exploiting these resources”. He thus tells Barroso, “There is clearly merit in providing additional clarity on how the existing comprehensive EU legislative framework applies to shale gas”, then adding, “However, I am not in favour of new legislation”. What the Prime Minister has not understood, though, is that the EU fully intends to block shale gas development. In an agenda largely driven by NGOs such as Greenpeace, we have already reported how the Geneva-Brussels nexus is working on plans to kill the industry at birth, with the fulsome support of the European Commission.

Indeed North has (I wrote about this topic in August), previously highlighted the fact that the EU funds the environmentalist lobby groups that have been so assiduous in lobbying it, and, increasingly, have wormed their way into the policymaking machinery.

Back in August  I argued that this was a “profound corruption of the democratic process”. It was. It is. And it’s going to get worse.

North explains:

Strangely enough, with virtually no publicity, last week saw the LIFE 2014-2020 programme signed off. This approves annual grant payments of €11 million (see page 58) to environmental NGOs to enable them to continue their opposition to fracking. The EU funds will be used to leverage further contributions from charitable foundations and member state governments, making these NGOs formidable players, acting at the heart of the system.