The following is an interesting exchange between Leanne Wood and Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales in the Welsh Parliament on the 27th January 2015:
Diolch, Lywydd. First Minister, yesterday the Environmental Audit Committee at Westminster published a significant report and they made a key recommendation. I quote:
‘A moratorium on the extraction of unconventional gas through fracking is needed to avoid both the inconsistency with our climate change obligations and to allow the uncertainty surrounding environmental risks to be fully resolved.’
Plaid Cymru supports a moratorium on fracking, First Minister, for the same reasons. Does the Welsh Government agree?
Well, you can’t support a moratorium on fracking unless you agree that licences should be devolved. I take it that licences should be devolved and then we should consider an effective moratorium on fracking.
Yesterday, First Minister, your party tabled amendments to the Infrastructure Bill in Westminster that would see the devolution of licensing for onshore fracking to the Scottish Parliament. Not only did you exclude Wales from having the same powers, but your party refused to support a Plaid Cymru amendment for the devolution of these powers to Wales. Do you want these powers—the same powers of licensing for onshore fracking, First Minister?
Well, I think many people are going to be confused and frustrated, First Minister that you say one thing and you do another. You’ve suggested concern about fracking, but you haven’t made any representations to the Westminster Government, have you? You say that you want us to be offered the same powers as Scotland, but you take no action in order to gain such powers. You say that you oppose Tory austerity, but you vote with them to entrench it, and you bemoan Wales’s fiscal disadvantage, but refuse to take greater responsibility for it. First Minister, you offer warm words when it comes to concerns raised about fracking, but you don’t want the powers to stop them, do you? Otherwise, you would have instructed your MPs to support Plaid Cymru’s amendment yesterday. When Plaid Cymru says it, we mean it. When Labour says it, you say one thing and is it not the case that you actually do another?
I do wonder sometimes, I think—. The leader of Plaid Cymru asked me a direct question and I gave her the most direct answer imaginable, and she denies I ever gave her an answer. I mean, the reality is this: the issue of fracking is something that representations have been made on as part of the St David’s Day process. We want to see it devolved to Wales. There is no question that somehow Scotland should get something and Wales should not, and it’s part of the St David’s Day process. You are either part of that process or you are not. The last thing we should do is move to a situation where we try to have powers given to us in an ad hoc fashion. We need Silk part 1, we need Silk part 2, we need delivery of Smith with regard to Wales and discussion about that, and then we will see progress. That is the position of Welsh Labour, and that is the position, I believe, of the people of Wales.
The next step is obviously to obtain copies of correspondence etc to see exactly how hard the Welsh Government have tried to get powers over fracking devolved.