Drilling surface fracking wells in natural parks will be forbidden but firms still could frack underneath them

Fracking rules proposed to protect national parks

New fracking rules proposed by DECC will prevent energy firms from drilling fracking wells from the surface within national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. 

The plan put forward for consultation by the Department of Energy and Climate Change also expects sites of special scientific interest to be protected from surface drilling.

"The UK has one of the best track records in the world when it comes to protecting our environment while developing our industries,” said Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom.

"We have the right protections in place to ensure that fracking can go ahead safely without risk to our most beautiful and important natural sites.”

However, Greenpeace said the measures would not protect the environment from pollution from wider fracking activity and were only designed to calm down potential objectors.

"This announcement might have banned drilling rigs from littering the landscape, but the Government isn't banning fracking pollution spilling over into our most fragile and treasured countryside,” said Greenpeace campaigner Hannah Martin.

"Some of England's special scenery and nature reserves could still be ringed by fracking rigs bringing light, air, water and noise pollution to areas that should be completely protected.”

The new proposal would develop rules put into law as part of the Infrastructure Act 2015, which includes restrictions on fracking in protected groundwater source areas and other protected areas.

The proposed regulations would make clear what surface activity could take place in protected areas while not preventing horizontal underground drilling into such areas.

The UK government supports the development of hydraulic fracturing - commonly known as fracking - in the UK as it believes tapping into shale gas reserves would make the country less dependent on energy imports. The industry is projected to create up to 60,000 of jobs and inject billions to the economy.

However, opponents fear the technique, which involves pumping a mixture of water and sand into the ground under pressure to crack the rock and release the gas, could cause earthquakes, pollute water resources and damage the environment. Environmentalists also say that developing shale gas resources would slow down the deployment of renewables and contribute to the ongoing issue of global warming.

Recent articles

Info Message

Our sites use cookies to support some functionality, and to collect anonymous user data.

Learn more about IET cookies and how to control them