Outright ban? Sneaky plans afoot for national parks to get fracked sideways

Posted by LiamBB — 17 July 2015 at 4:06pm - Comments
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Something's missing from Amber Rudd's pledge...

After pledging to protect national parks and groundwater from fracking in January, the Government has revealed a backdoor plan that could be disastrous for some of our most treasured countryside.

When Energy Secretary Amber Rudd told MPs in January that “We have agreed an outright ban on fracking in national parks [and] sites of special scientific interest,” most of us thought it marked the end of that particular battle. The wider spectre of shale gas still loomed, but the collective outrage around blasting pressurised chemical cocktails under our most treasured pockets of countryside, did seem to have the desired effect. After all, ‘outright ban’ seemed like pretty definitive language.

But this week the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published draft regulations on shale gas extraction that fly in the face of Rudd’s seemingly-steadfast statement from January. The rules appear to suggest that fracking companies should be free to frack under national parks, groundwater supplies, and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s) -- as long as they drill deep enough outside these supposedly-protected locations before drilling sideways underneath them.

Worse still, test drilling in SSSIs could become totally fair game under the DECC guidelines, provided companies like Cuadrilla or iGas move their rigs to the outer edges of the parks or aquifers before they start squirting chemicals underneath them!

Does this sound like an ‘outright ban’ to you?

We’ve got to be on our toes now – it looks like nothing is safe with a government that can reinterpret their own words with such self-serving creative license. Though the detail of the new rules won’t be debated in Parliament until September, we need to make sure that the scrutiny in that discussion is considerably stronger than it clearly has been in DECC’s own internal meetings.

And scrutiny will be up to all of us. The government is assuming none of us are paying enough attention to notice them pushing policies of national significance through in the text of some departmental paperwork, blatantly at odds with the democratic mandate DECC had been given by MPs in January.

Lots of people fought hard to make sure that the government’s mad dash for shale gas would at least spare the parts of the country we cherish most. But now even the North York Moors and the South Downs – according to the pro-fracking Telegraph - 'could be surrounded' by boreholes and 40 metre drill rigs.

Sign up to join the fight for a frack free UK and we’ll let you know as the details emerge about how we can act together to stop these underhanded plans.

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