Natascha Engel

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Natascha Engel

Natascha Engel was the Labour Party MP for North East Derbyshire from 2005[1] until she lost her seat in the 2017 general election to the Conservative candidate Lee Rowley. Engel had previously narrowly beaten him in the 2015 general election with a majority of just 1,883. [2] It was the first Labour loss for the seat in over 35 years.

After leaving politics Engel took on controversial consultancy work in December 2017 with INEOS Shale, which has oil and gas licence blocks in her former constituency.

She also now sits on the advisory board of the Westminster Connection (TWS), which has been described by the Sunday Times as 'a discreet lobbying firm with Israeli links', Chaired by Lord Stuart Polak, its clients include controversial Israeli arms firm Elbit Systems,[3] whose factories in the UK have the scene of many protests by campaigners in recent years.

In October 2018 Engel was named the UK government's 'Fracking Tsar', a ministerial public appointment independent of government tasked with acting as a link between local communities, industry and regulators.

She resigned from the role in April 2019 amid a flurry of frontpage headlines and high profile radio and TV coverage carrying her claims that the UK government's refusal to review rules over earthquake-induced drilling levels was strangling the nascent industry [4]

In early July 2019 campaigns and lobbying agency Public First announced Engel would be 'joining in two weeks' as a partner to head up 'a new practice specialism in policy and communications on infrastructure and regulation'.[5] She started 15 July, three months after resigning from her government role.

Stance on fracking

FrackWell.png This article is part of the Spinwatch Fracking Portal and project

‬Engel is avidly pro-fracking. Her former North East Derbyshire constituency includes six oil and gas licence blocks, all awarded to INEOS by the Oil and Gas Authority under the 14th licensing round in 2015. By November 2016 INEOS had put forward plans for four shale wells, one hrz frac well and 2D and 3D seismic surveying.[6]

Lee Rowley, the Conservative MP who defeated Engel, has argued vociferously against fracking in the constituency, and in 2018 was appointed the chair of an all-party parliamentary group on the impact of commercial fracking.

Writing pro-shale information booklet for INEOS

In December 2017 Engel was commissioned by petrochemical giant INEOS to write an 'information 'booklet' that would 'better explain shale exploration and development'. INEOS Shale operations director Tom Pickering explained that her assistance would 'give us a better insight into the needs and concerns of residents. As a former Labour MP and trade unionist, Natascha has always made the case for good jobs, as well as health and safety. At the same time, Natascha is well placed to give us a full understanding of local issues and help us to continue to be an open and inclusive organisation.'

Engel explained her rationale to carry out this work in INEOS's press release:

I saw first-hand what the impacts are on small communities when they hear about a shale gas application near them – even when it’s only for exploratory drilling. What people want is information. They want to know how it will affect them and they want reassurance that it is safe. I hope that this booklet will provide some of those certainties.
Most of all I hope that this will allow INEOS to work constructively with communities so that local people gain the most in terms of the jobs and apprenticeships that this industry could bring – something I have campaigned on for most of my adult life. [7]

Engel's decision was criticised by several Labour MPs. Anne Western, leader of Derbyshire Labour Group said: “Natascha Engel’s decision to work on behalf of Ineos is shocking and disappointing. Natascha’s views on fracking are entirely her own and do not represent Labour Party policy or the views of many Labour members.”

Dennis Skinner the Labour MP for Bolsover said: 'The Labour Party is totally against fracking. Our policy, adopted at the party conference in 2016, is to ban fracking completely in the UK and to back clean technologies and renewable energy.
 I have been campaigning against fracking locally and in Parliament. I recently raised the matter with Theresa May at PMQs because of the water contamination at Oxcroft.
 Unlike Lee Rowley, who made it clear last week during a Westminster Hall debate that he doesn’t oppose fracking in principle, only in north east Derbyshire, I am against fracking wherever it is proposed.'[8]

As of October 2018 when Engel was appointed UK shale gas commissioner, this booklet had still not been published.

Voting record

As an MP Engel had an inconsistent voting record on fracking. [9]

  • 26 January 2015: voted for making fracking companies apply for an environmental permit before conducting exploratory drilling. She was absent however for a vote to amend the Infrastructure Bill to include a moratorium on fracking.
  • 11 February 2015: voted against requiring more pre-conditions for where fracking can take place.
  • 16 December 2015: absent for a vote on loosening the conditions for when fracking to take place in protected areas and national parks.

Former staff




  1. Natascha Engel,, accessed 29 October 2013.
  2. Derbyshire North East Parliamentary constituency BBC News, accessed 21 May 2015
  3. TWC Associates, TWC Associates website intro, undated,Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 5 January 2018.
  4. Melissa Jones, Fracking industry and resigning tsar Natascha Engel hits full media spin cycle on quake rules, Spinwatch, 8 May 2019
  5. Public First LinkedIn profile, last accessed 15 July 2019
  6. Oil and gas: licensing rounds,, accessed 14 November 2016.
  7. INEOS Shale commission former MP Natascha Engel, INEOS Shale, 1 December 2017, accessed Dec 2017, and 7 Jan 2018
  8. Liam Norcliffe, [ Decision by former MP to link up with fracking firm criticised\, Derbyshire Times, 6 December 2017
  9. TheyWorkForYou | Natascha Engel, TheyWorkForYou, accessed 10 November 2016.
  10. Register of interests of members' secretaries and research assistants, 23 March 2016,, accessed 20 April 2016