Welcome to the new, improved Mark Menzies MP!
It is fair to say that Mr Menzies and I have not always seen eye to eye on a raft of issues, including fracking.
Today, however, I listened to his interview with Graham Liver on Radio Lancashire just after 7 am and I have to say it sounded as though I was listening to an MP who would at last stand up for his constituents if fracking were to make an unwelcome return to the Fylde.
This is a transcript of his interview:
Graham Liver and Mark Menzies MP – Radio Lancashire 6 April 2022 – 07:07
Good morning Graham,
What’s your reaction to this?
Well, I’m frustrated, because quite frankly, the well at Preston New Road was not viable. I wish people would stop saying its viable, it’s not viable, it would not have triggered a national moratorium, it wouldn’t have, you know, be a situation where we’re having to look at something that is quite frankly a danger to the public. And as for conservative backbenchers, being in favour of this, they are an unrepresentative rump, they’re the kind of people that when fracking was actually going on, didn’t know it was going on because they were so obsessed with Brexit, or trying to get rid of Theresa May. So these are people that are, quite frankly, are not representative of the Conservative Party, but also not people that actually have fracking anywhere near them. So it’s very good for them in theory to say “Isn’t it great, we’ve got all this gas”, but they don’t understand the realities, the practicalities. And quite frankly, to get up here, speak to people understand what’s going on, then form your opinion.
So so so this rump of the Conservative Party, do you talk to them? Do you say listen, I’ve had this on my patch. And I know what happens.
Yeah, but Graham aren’t the kind of people you can talk to. They are people that quite frankly, they make their mind up and once their mind’s made up they don’t listen to anyone about anything.
These are your Conservative colleagues, you’re talking about here Mark?
Yeah, a very tiny number of colleagues a very tiny number. And let’s be quite frank on this. You know, the Secretary of State’s spoke to myself and other Lancashire colleagues yesterday, and made it crystal clear that what is going on now is actually the logical follow on from last week announcements of the delaying of the cementing up of these two wells, this is a desktop exercise that’s taking place, and it’s looking to see has anything changed. And you don’t need to be an expert to work out the geology that caused these, you know, seismic events, one of which was 2.9. You know, let’s not forget the the regulations which I fought for, delivered the traffic light system, which the industry signed up to. Cuadrilla, happily signed up to the traffic light system, they happily said that they could do fracking safely, that they would not trigger anything above a 0.5 event. In reality, there were triggering events that 2.1, 2.3 and after fracking stopped, we get an event of 2.9 on the Richter scale. So when you speak to Cuadrilla, I think the question you ask them is not you know, is the gas on the ground? I think we can all accept there is gas there it is, can you do it safely? Can you do within the regulations that you yourself signed up to? And the answer is no, they can’t. So therefore, fracking cannot be done.
Are you worried that with what’s happening in Ukraine and the energy crisis at the moment that Cuadrilla will as you say, we’ll hear from them after eight o’clock this morning, they’re gonna say, Okay, if you want cheaper energy, you’re gonna have to put up with stuff like this.
Well no the people of Lancashire should not have to put up with stuff like this, we should not have to put up with something which is clearly by their own definition, unsafe. They made it very clear that anything above 0.5 on the Richter scale was something that was outside the tolerance zone, that their own fracture plan that they submitted oil and gas authority said that they would not go above a 0.5 event. And in reality, they couldn’t do within the 0.5. So it’s all great in theory, yes, there is gas there. Yes, we need the energy, I accept every single bit of that. But first and foremost, it must be able to be done safely. And if you’re triggering event in excess of two on the Richter scale constantly, that is not a safe way to do this I’m afraid and they’ve gotta (unintelligible) just move on.
Finally Mark in a statement yesterday,Cuadrilla cited a questionable claim from eight years ago, that Russia is actively engaged in anti fracking groups. What do you make of that?
Well, listen, you had someone on here from the local community, Barbara Richardson a few minutes ago, you know, I’ve worked with Barbara, you know, listened to her arguments and a number of times, at no point have I ever thought, here’s somebody who’s connected to Russia. So I think, you know, Cuadrilla has to be very, very careful when they’re setting to try and, you know, undermine, you know, very legitimate arguments put forward by local people. If this is about trying to build local consensus by goodness they are going about it in the wrong way.
Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde thank you ever so much for joining us this morning.