What Do The Labour Leadership Candidates Think About Fracking?

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The Labour Party’s stance on fracking has never been black and white, which makes the next party leader’s view on the topic fairly important. 

In February, the Labour Party abstained from a vote on an amendment for a moratorium on fracking, recommended by the Environmental Audit Committee’s report on Fracking. The amendment was not approved and voted down by 302 votes to 52 against a moratorium. 

The Labour Party decided to abstain after the government agreed to accept a list of their amendments to the Infrastructure Bill which tried to add a number of strong safe guards and restrictions against fracking.

However, the amendments were watered down in the House of Lords and were eventually passed into legislation, despite all present Labour MPs having voting against the bill.

A few months later, the party’s 2015 general election manifesto stated that if they were elected to power they would support a regulated fracking industry.

DeSmog UK contacted all the Labour Leadership hopefuls in order to get the candidates’ most up-to-date positions on fracking for shale oil and gas.


Corbyn, Kendall, Burnham and Cooper

Do actions speak louder than words?

Andy Burnham said that, “In the last Parliament, the Government watered down the environmental safeguards Labour tried to put in place.”

He stated how he is far from convinced that fracking is safe, and that any potential benefits must not come at the expense of the government’s commitment to act on climate change.

I am clear that no fracking should go ahead until we have much clearer evidence on the environmental impact. And, ultimately, it is local people and communities, not Whitehall, who should have final sign-off.”

Burnham has spoken out in the past about his views on fracking, and is the only candidate in the leadership contest who has actively called for a moratorium on fracking in the UK.

Fracking Moratorium

However, unlike Burnham, Jeremy Corbyn was the only candidate who defied the party whips’ mass abstention, along with 19 other Labour MPs, and voted for an 18 month moratorium on fracking when the opportunity presented itself back in January. 

Corbyn says he is wholly against fracking and believes that more should be done to increase the country’s renewable energy production.

Corbyn said: “Having looked at the evidence of the environmental damage and pollution caused by hydraulic fracturing, I am completely opposed to fracking.”

The further extraction of hard-to-reach fossil fuels is not compatible with the UK‘s national and international commitments. Instead, we should be ensuring greater investment in renewable energy generation.”

Regulated Industry

Yvette Cooper, on the other hand, says she supports the idea of a regulated fracking industry. She believes that the government was rightly forced to accept some of Labour’s amendments that were added to the Infrastructure Act, and thinks they will act as “proper safeguards”. Cooper thinks that, “If shale gas can be developed safely, then it could contribute to our security of supply by displacing imported gas in our energy mix.”

Liz Kendall did not have much to say on the potential impacts of fracking, but is in favour of devolving decisions like this down to a local level so that communities can vote to stop or allow fracking in their local area.

All members, registered and affiliated supporters who have joined before the 12th August are eligible to vote in the Labour Leadership election. Voting closes on the 10th of September and the final result will be announced two days after.

Photo: David Holt via Flickr / Labour Leadership via Wikimedia Commons

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Ben Lucas is currently pursuing an Investigative Journalism Master’s degree at the City University of London. He has a particular interest in UK and international politics, economics and environmental issues.

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