Shale gas

MQT on 2014-12-17
Session date: 
December 17, 2014
Question By: 
Tony Arbour
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


The Chancellor recently announced the funding of a National College for Shale gas in Lancashire. Given that my research indicates that the shale oil in the South could be worth up to £94bn, is it not high time you lobby the Chancellor for something similar in London?


Answer for Shale gas

Answer for Shale gas

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Tony.  I congratulate you, as ever, on your vigilance and vision in pursuit of fracking.  I know how avidly you wish to frack everywhere else except Richmond. 


You are quite right.  Unfortunately, we do not think we have much exploitable shale gas in London.  I am not certain that a shale gas college should be set up in London.  We have one fairly near.  There is a centre in Portsmouth where we have a lot of expertise.  That will probably do us.


My own view is that we will not frack much anywhere in this country until they sort out the title to the hydrocarbons beneath people’s properties.  As long as it is vested in the Government or in the Queen, as it is put, I do not think this thing will progress.  We need to do what the Americans do.


Tony Arbour AM:  I make no apologies for returning to this one, Mr Mayor.  I am sorry you take such a pessimistic view on the development of shale gas.  There are some people in London who do take a rather more optimistic view than you on this.  Notably, the GMB union has come out in favour of this.  No doubt it has come out ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, GMB is in favour of fracking, I know.


Tony Arbour AM:  Yes.  No doubt it has come out in favour of this because of the 46,000 jobs that will be created by the exploitation of the world reserves.  I did make the point last time that the fracking resources may not physically be in London but many of the jobs that will be created by fracking will be in London.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That will happen, inevitably.  I agree with you on that.  I agree with that.  Just to clarify what I think should happen and why we should follow America, what I do not mean is following America and having a republic or having access to weapons or whatever.  We should have a system that enables people who have any amount of land, when they think there are hydrocarbons that can be fracked beneath it, to have the title to those hydrocarbons or to that shale gas.  At the moment, it is all allocated to the Government.  Since 1914 or the early 1920s, it was all given over to the state.  There is no individual interest in this matter.  Nobody has anything to gain from it.  No landlord and no property-owner in Britain has anything to gain from it.  No wonder not a single cubic centilitre of this stuff has been fracked in this country.  Not a bit, nothing.  Not a pint of gas has been fracked from Britain.


Tony Arbour AM:  I do not know actually, Mr Mayor, whether or not that is entirely accurate.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  It is.  Check it out.


Tony Arbour AM:  I am not one who would argue with your omniscience on this matter.  Returning to the point about GMB, did you know that six of the Members sitting opposite are members of GMB?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  You do not surprise me.  That is why they have never achieved a night Tube or anything like that.  That is absolutely true. 


Tony Arbour AM:  In relation to this question, it does suggest that there are six enthusiasts for this sitting over there.  It may well be that sitting over here there are ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Frackers.


Tony Arbour AM:  ‑‑ colleagues who equally want to get fracking.  If the problem really is as you say, Mr Mayor, I repeat the point that I made to you the last time I raised this: when you depart for another place, you will still be Mayor of London.  That will give you the opportunity in that other place to untie this knot that you say is preventing fracking from taking place.  Is that something you might like to promote a bill on when you are there?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I want you to know that on your behalf and on behalf of all Londoners I have already taken this up with the Energy Minister, who came in to see me.  I think it was only yesterday or the day before yesterday.  I had a very good conversation with Matthew Hancock [Minister for Business, Enterprise and Energy] who was seized of the problem.  Whether he is going to be able to solve it before the election I was not quite clear. 


Tony Arbour AM:  That is progress. 


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  It is.


Tony Arbour AM:  Thank you, Chairman.