Climate change minister says green groups are 'foolish'

Climate change minister Greg Barker gave a keynote speech at a meeting on shale gas at Westminster. He stated that UK had one of the strongest regulatory systems in the world. Mr Barker was forced to rein back some of his comments later in the meeting when he was asked a question from Balcombe resident and anti-fracking campaigner Kathryn McWhirter, who was in the audience.

She said: “I was shocked by the tone of sarcasm in your voice, twice, when you talked about people campaigning in Balcombe.”

“We have read peer-reviewed science. We are not emotional. I was horrified that in one breath you are sarcastic about us and in the second breath you are saying how you should acknowledge the genuine concerns of local residents.”

Kathryn McWhirter said Balcombe’s experience of regulation was that monitoring of Cuadrilla’s well was “practically non-existent.” She said the Health and Safety Executive never came to check the integrity of the well and it never had any of the meetings it was meant to have with the Environment Agency. She said the EA relied on an email from Cuadrilla at the end of each week that it was doing what it was supposed to do.

“I could go on for an hour unpicking everything you have said”, she added.