Lobbying guide for North Yorkshire

Advice for North Yorkshire businesses that want to make their support for shale gas extraction known to local political leaders and decision-makers


North Yorkshire sits on top of the Bowland Shale, which experts have suggested could contain some 1,300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (central estimate) of which it’s generally thought around 10% could be extracted using current techniques.

To put that into perspective, the UK currently consumes approximately 3 trillion cubic feet of gas a year, and so if 130 trillion cubic feet of Bowland shale gas was used to displace 100% of existing gas sources, it could be expected to last over 40 years.

In reality, it’s more likely that UK shale gas would be used to replace imports of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from places as far afield as Algeria and Qatar. In 2013, LNG imports equated to about 0.39 trillion cubic feet of gas, and so if Bowland shale gas was substituted for this, that 130 trillion cubic feet would last over 300 years.

That’s a lot of gas, and there are lots of reasons to try and extract it.

It’s important that your local political leaders and decision-makers get to hear about those reasons from supportive members of the business community. If you decide to engage with your MP or local councillors, you could consider articulating some or all of the potential benefits listed below.

The benefits of extracting and using North Yorkshire shale gas

There are lots of important benefits that we can expect from extracting and using North Yorkshire shale gas:

Shale gas in North Yorkshire could boost local employment by creating supply chain opportunities for local businesses.

During the exploration and field-development phases of extraction, a successful shale gas industry targeting the Bowland shale in North Yorkshire could boost local employment by creating supply chain opportunities for local businesses. A report by EY (formerly Ernst & Young) in 2014 predicted that, nationally, a shale gas industry could one day be responsible for over 64,000 jobs and a supply chain spend of £33 billion at peak.

Substituted for coal in electricity generation, and as a replacement for imported LNG, North Yorkshire shale gas could contribute to reducing UK climate change emissions and improve air quality.

Burning gas to generate electricity releases around half the CO2 of coal, which means it’s better for the climate. Not only that, it’s a cleaner burning fuel too, producing virtually none of the harmful particulates that coal fired power stations emit and so a switch to burning more gas would also help to improve air quality too. Using North Yorkshire shale gas would also help avoid the CO2 emissions linked to producing and shipping LNG.

North Yorkshire shale gas could significantly boost tax revenues locally and nationally, unlike continued and increasing reliance on overseas imports.

The UK is currently a net importer of natural gas, and it’s predicted that imports will rise to 75% by 2030. Those imports are responsible for few jobs and do not generate any taxes for the government to spend on public services. North Yorkshire shale gas, on the other hand, will generate substantial business rates for councils to spend on vital local services, and employment taxes raised from all the people that work in and with the industry. Not only that, oil and gas profits are very highly taxed, with an effective tax rate of roughly 50% of production revenues.

How to engage with local political leaders

There are lots of ways in which you can engage with your local MP, councillors and other decision-makers to make your views known.

Write to or email your MP

In the first instance, you could write to your MP. Not sure who that is? Type your postcode into this website and find out.

It will be one of these. Click the appropriate link and it will open a pre-formatted email for you to send to your MP. Feel free to send it as it is, or use it as a guide and add to it to make it more personal (better):

Harrogate and Knaresborough
Name: Andrew Jones
Party: Conservative
Email Andrew Jones MP

Name: Rishi Sunak
Party: Conservative
Email Rishi Sunak MP

Scarborough and Whitby
Name: Robert Goodwill
Party: Conservative
Email Robert Goodwill MP

Selby and Ainsty
Name: Nigel Adams
Party: Conservative
Email Nigel Adams MP

Skipton and Ripon
Name: Julian Smith
Party: Conservative
Email Julian Smith MP

Thirsk and Malton
Name: Kevin Hollinrake
Party: Conservative
Email Kevin Hollinrake MP

If you decide to tailor the email, consider stating some of the economic and environmental advantages that we’ve set out above.

Arrange a meeting with your MP

Your local MP will hold a regular constituency surgery most weeks, usually on a Friday. As well as writing to them, you could arrange to go and meet them to discuss your views on the local benefits of North Yorkshire shale gas and to ask them to personally support it.

Remember, it’s an MPs job to stand up for and represent his or her constituents in Parliament. You are a constituent, and your employees will be too – you have just as much right to lobby your MP as opponents living and working in the same constituency.

Responding to public consultations

When a company submits either a planning application to the Minerals Planning Authority (in this case, North Yorkshire County Council) or an environmental permitting application (in England to the Environment Agency) the public has a statutory right to be consulted.

That’s your chance to have your say to the officers and councillors that will decide on planning applications, and the environment officers that will determine environmental permitting applications. You can respond in a variety of ways, including by email, in writing or, increasingly, via an online web portal.

However you choose to respond, here are some pointers on things you could consider including:


National Planning Policy Framework

142 in the National Planning Policy Framework states emphatically that “Minerals are essential to support sustainable economic growth and our quality of life. It is therefore important that there is a sufficient supply of material to provide the infrastructure, buildings, energy and goods that the country needs.”

143 in the National Planning Policy Framework states that local planning authorities, when setting local planning policy for minerals extraction (like shale gas) should:

“when developing noise limits, recognise that some noisy short-term activities, which may otherwise be regarded as unacceptable, are unavoidable to facilitate minerals extraction”

144 in the National Planning Policy Framework states that local planning authorities, when deciding planning applications for minerals extraction, should:

“give great weight to the benefits of the mineral extraction, including to the economy;”

“provide for restoration and aftercare at the earliest opportunity to be carried out to high environmental standards, through the application of appropriate conditions, where necessary. Bonds or other financial guarantees to underpin planning conditions should only be sought in exceptional circumstances;”

147 in the National Planning Policy Framework states that minerals planning authorities should also:

“when planning for on-shore oil and gas development, including unconventional hydrocarbons, clearly distinguish between the three phases of development (exploration, appraisal and production) and address constraints on production and processing within areas that are licensed for oil and gas exploration or production.”

Local decision-makers should be reminded of these overarching national planning policies when responding to public consultation.


North Yorkshire’s history of playing host to the extractive industries 

North Yorkshire has a rich history of onshore oil and gas extraction, dating back to the 1930s. Exploratory wells have been drilled, appraised and then sealed and restored at locations all across the county, including in the picturesque Dalby Forest and Vale of Pickering. A total of six gas fields have been discovered in the county. Third Energy operates a number of existing onshore gas wells, including at Kirby Misperton and Ebberston Moor, and a gathering station and electricity generating facility at Knapton.

Between 1997 and 2004, annual production of land-won sand and gravel varied from 2.5 to 2.7 million tonnes, with an estimated 29 million tonnes of permitted reserves still remaining.

Around 30,000 tonnes a year of silica sand is quarried at Burythorpe near Malton.

Around 1 million tonnes a year of potash is mined at Boulby, located in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, plus a further 500,000 tonnes a year of rock salt. Sirius Minerals has recently won planning approval for its York Potash project, which will see it build a new potash mine near Whitby, which will be capable of eventually producing 20 million tonnes a year of polyhalite.

Local decision-makers should be reminded of the fact that North Yorkshire already plays host to a variety of extractive minerals processes, all of which co-exist quite satisfactorily with local agriculture, tourism and the rural way of life – despite the inevitable noise, dust and heavy road traffic that they are all associated with.


Supply and demand for gas

Some 23 million (90%) of UK  households consume natural gas.

Of these, 84% are thought to use gas to heat their homes and provide hot water, with around 60% choosing to cook with gas.

Demand for gas is expected to continue to exceed the supply available from UK sources.

The UK has been a net importer of gas since 2004, becoming more dependent on imports from other countries, including Liquefied Natural; Gas shipped from as far afield as Algeria and Qatar.

By 2025, the UK is forecast to be dependent on foreign imports for 68% of the gas needed to meet energy demand, rising to 77% by 2030.

Dependency on foreign supplies presents security of supply issues for the UK.

Renewable sources of energy (such as wind power) need to be developed and the necessary infrastructure delivered to provide a greater contribution to the energy mix.

Gas (including gas from shale rock) will be a key source of energy while the exploitation of renewable sources of energy is being developed, and will continue to be required as a back-up during periods of interruptions of renewable supply (windless periods).

Local decision-makers should be reminded of the fact that a reliable source of UK natural gas will improve energy security for the nation, heating people’s homes and helping to balance the electricity grid in times of low or no output from wind and solar resources.