MPs have voted to allow fracking under national parks although the ruling has caused some controversy amongst ministers after an underhand method of getting the measure through was used, avoiding a proper debate in the House of Commons.
Despite the Conservative pledge to ban fracking in protected areas, 298 ministers voted for fracking against 261 who were not in favour, after a statutory instrument – a form of secondary legislation was implemented to fast track new rules.
Shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy was outraged, accusing ministers of using a parliamentary backdoor sneak through weak fracking rules without debate. She has called for a ban on fracking until the environmental effects have been fully investigated.
“Ministers had previously conceded that there should be the tougher safeguards that Labour has been calling for to protect drinking water sources and sensitive parts of our countryside like national parks. Now they’ve abandoned those promises.
Neither MPs or the public have received these assurances yet ministers are ignoring people’s legitimate concerns and imposing fracking on communities.”
While other parties and environmentalists oppose the change vehemently, energy minister, Andrea Leadsom defended her actions explaining that moving from coal to gas was a huge decarbonisation win, adding that shale gas could create thousands of jobs.
With concerns over the current UK power capacity margin, fracking could be a welcome resolution to our diminishing energy supply and security. If the method worked like it has in the USA, Britain could develop it’s own homegrown energy allowing them to reduce their reliance on gas imports and lower wholesale prices.
UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) also backed the vote stating that environmental concerns were at the top of their priority list and promising to adhere to strict regulations.
“It is important to recognise that any future hydraulic fracturing for shale will take place several kilometres underground and as an industry we take all possible steps to minimise our impact on the environment and the surrounding communities.”
Rules state that fracking will only be allowed 1,200m below national parks, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads and World Heritage Sites and the drill rigs would have to be positioned outside the boundaries of the protected areas.
A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman added: “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.”
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