MPs are to vote today (Wednesday 16 December) on whether to allow fracking under protected landscapes amid calls for stronger safeguards.
Under government plans, fracking would only be allowed 1,200m below national parks, with drilling taking place from outside the protected areas. MPs overwhelmingly rejected an outright ban on fracking in a Commons vote in January, during which ministers also pledged an “outright ban” on fracking in national parks.
The proposals, set out in July, would only allow fracking 1,200m below national parks, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads and World Heritage Sites. Sites of Special Scientific Interest, which are designated to protect wildlife or geology, are not mentioned.
A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: “The UK has one of the best track records in the world for protecting our environment while developing our industries – these regulations will get this vital industry moving while protecting our environment and people.”
Rob Fairbanks, Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Board Director, comments;
“The debate over the fracking legislation has highlighted that protecting our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty has such a high level of public interest. The Surrey Hills AONB Board welcomes the fact that people care about these nationally important landscapes. I understand however that fracking will not be pursued in the Surrey Hills because any oil and gas can be extracted by conventional methods if it is viable. The principle being established by Government is that fracking sites should not be located in the Protected Landscape is something that we fully support and should have wider implications in terms of oil and gas extraction.”