MPs agree national parks and protected areas no place for fracking

Fracking will be banned in national parks, sites of special scientific interest and other "protected areas" after MPs approved a last-minute amendment to the Infrastructure Bill.

Rossall beach near Blackpool, a region where test drilling for shale gas has taken place - image: Flickr
Rossall beach near Blackpool, a region where test drilling for shale gas has taken place - image: Flickr

The amendment, called for by the Environmental Audit Committee, was successfully added amid a brewing Liberal Democrat and Tory rebellion against the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at high pressure to fracture shale rocks and release natural gas.

During the debate in the House of Commons yesterday energy minister Amber Rudd said the Government would remove the provision that shale gas exploration would be allowed in these areas in "exceptional circumstances".

She added there would be outright ban in "national parks, sites of special interest and areas of national beauty".

These are:

  • Special areas of conservation under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c) Regulations 1994
  • Special protection areas under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
  • Sites of special scientific interest under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
  • National parks under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949
  • The Broads under the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Act 1988
  • Areas of outstanding natural beauty under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000

MPs from cross-party group the Environmental Audit Committee called for the amendment, along with a series of other changes, yesterday, saying there were "huge uncertainties" about the environmental impact of the process.

As thousands of anti-fracking protesters gathered outside Parliament, MPs voted against the committee-backed amendment to suspend shale gas extraction for up to 30 days until it could be further investigated, by 308 votes to 52.

However, the government conceded to a Labour suggestion that a check-list of 13 new conditions be met before fracking could start.   

Fracking has led to a dramatic drop in gas prices for United States residents and a boost to the US economy.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Amenity weed control - glyphosate and spraying update

Amenity weed control - glyphosate and spraying update

Professionals in the amenity sector should be taking an integrated approach and using the appropriate methods, Sally Drury advises.

Reviewed: Brushcutters

Reviewed: Brushcutters

New machines from Echo, Makita, Stihl, Tanaka and Canycom Samurai reflect the huge variety of models but how do our reviewers rate them? Sally Drury reports.

Sue Ireland: A career in parks

Sue Ireland: A career in parks

After nine years in charge 4452 hectares of open space entrusted to the care of the City of London Corporation (CoL), Sue Ireland is leaving for pastures new. She shares her insights from 38 years in the parks sector with Sarah Cosgrove.