MP accused of ducking questions on fracking

A fracking site
A fracking site
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Shale gas campaign group Defend Lytham today blasted Fylde MP Mark Menzies after he appeared to answer just five of 38 questions it posed to him over fracking.

But the MP has hit back at the group for ‘point-scoring’, saying he is unable to answer technical questions, and highlighted the work he has done so far calling for regulations to be put in place on the industry.

Fylde MP Mark Menzies

Fylde MP Mark Menzies

A spokesman for Defend Lytham said: “Mr Menzies eventually sent a reply, which ignored 33 of the questions and answered five in only the vaguest possible way.

“Defend Lytham is tremendously disappointed that our MP has chosen to be so evasive.

“Mr Menzies now has three years’ experience as MP for the area that is on the front line of shale gas exploration. He has worked as PPS to Energy Minister Charles Hendry, and he is serving as the Vice-Chairman for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Unconventional Oil and Gas which receives a significant amount of support from companies with interests in the fracking industry.

“Given this background and experience, his claim to be unable to answer the questions, because they assume that he has a detailed technical knowledge or are of such a speculative nature that it would be inappropriate of him to hypothesise on the answers, is quite incredible.”

The group posed a string of detailed questions about the future of fracking – the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into the ground to release shale gas from rock – on the Fylde.

But Mr Menzies said: “The chairman of Defend Lytham, has written to me on at least 24 separate occasions and I have always tried to answer with a detailed response. However, on this occasion the questions were of such a speculative nature, or assumed that I have a detailed technical knowledge of the engineering requirements behind the shale gas industry, that I was unable to do so.

“Last year, I called an Adjournment Debate in which I asked for a body to be put in place to oversee all the regulatory agencies involved in shale gas and that has now been formed in the Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil.

“I highlighted my concerns over the viability of the Anna’s Road site and said I would vehemently oppose any future development. Work on that site has been discontinued.

“I have since called a Westminster Hall debate to press Government further on the need for robust regulation by all those agencies working within the industry and have received assurances that the appropriate safeguards will be in place. I continue to meet regularly with the Prime Minister, the Energy Secretary and the Secretary of State for the Environment to discuss these issues.

“However, I am not prepared to become involved in unhelpful speculation formulated by those with a pre-determined agenda.”