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Friday, 16 October 2015

European Shale Gas and Oil Summit 2015 - Engagement and National Leadership

European Shale Gas and Oil Summit - Day 2.

We know what the PM thinks about shale gas.

Almost everyone I speak to tells me that they would like to have, but do not have, trusted independent advice that enable them to make an informed decision about shale gas - about whether we need it and about the risks and advantages that come with it.

  • The industry tries to tell people - but they are not trusted - too many hands in the till.
  • Environmental NGOs try to tell people - but they are not trusted - too much passion and not enough basic sense.
  • Local planning officers and civil servants (e.g., employees of the Environmental Agency) would love to tell people, but they are not allowed to.
  • Scientists are unbiased (on the whole), expert and would like to tell people, but they have no independent funding and no platform.
  • The media are more interested in drama than informing people about important things.
  • Government does not try.

Where is the leadership?
People tell me that they would like:

  • Direction from the top.
  • More political endorsement with reasons why!
  • Single point, transparent regulatory accountability that has teeth.
  • An unambiguous guide to best practice.

Then they can feel comfortable about making an informed decision. Until then the default position is the status quo, which will ultimately lead to electricity outages, ministers over-ruling planning decisions and an erosion of a local say in local planning.

OUGO is the governments Office for Unconventional Gas and Oil, commonly called OffUGO!. It sits within the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Energy Development Unit and tells us that it is part of a Unit which is responsible for encouraging and overseeing energy development in the UK. OffUGO has a number of remits. One is to 'Support Public Engagement'. Yet I do not know what they have done in this sphere recently, and I doubt whether many readers of this blog have heard of them.

Leadership - erm...

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