The UK Parliament has approved fracking for shale gas under national parks, giving shale gas companies access to more resources.
According to the new regulation, hydraulic fracturing can take place 1,200m below national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, world heritage sites, the Broads and some groundwater areas. Sites of special scientific interest and other wildlife conservation sites are not protected.
The regulation, criticised by Labour and Liberal MPs has been passed by a majority of 298 votes with 261 against.
The possibility of fracking under national parks was rejected in January this year by the previous parliament.
Yesterday’s vote, which took place without a parliamentary debate, will allow shale explores to drill horizontally into deposits underneath national parks, although shale gas wellheads must be located outside the protected zones.
"Rather than addressing public concerns over fracking, ministers are using a parliamentary backdoor to put through these weak regulations without a proper debate," said Lisa Nandy, Labour's shadow energy and climate secretary.
Britain is estimated to have substantial amounts of gas trapped in underground shale rocks and Prime Minister Cameron has pledged to go all-out to extract these reserves, to help offset declining North Sea oil and gas output.
However, the use of fracking, a process whereby water, sand and chemicals are injected to open up the shale rocks and release the trapped gas is opposed by many as it can cause earthquakes, pollute water resources and damage the landscape.