Shale gas regulation tightened following parliamentary debate

27th January 2015

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Energy ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Ecosystems ,
  • Biodiversity ,
  • Natural resources


Muhammad Ali

Fracking will be completely banned in protected areas, including national parks, the government has confirmed.

A series of amendments to provisions on shale gas exploration and extraction in the Infrastructure Bill were debated in the House of Commons yesterday.

Shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex tabled a new clause with several new measures, including that fracking would not take place “within or under protected areas”.

Government guidance published in July 2014 states that planning authorities should refuse planning applications for major developments in national parks, the Norfolk broads, areas of outstanding natural beauty and world heritage sites, but includes the caveat “unless it can be demonstrated both that exceptional circumstances exist and that it is in the public interest”.

Initially, energy and climate minister Amber Rudd said this level of protection was sufficient and that a blanket ban would be disproportionate, before completing a u-turn and agreeing to a “an outright ban” on fracking in such areas, and removing from the bill the caveat on exceptional circumstances.

But MPs demanded clarification on the issue when speaker of the house said no amendment had been tabled by the government that clarified the wording on shale gas in national parks.

A spokesman for the energy and climate department (Decc) this morning confirmed that it is “committed to formalising safeguards, including a new ban on fracking in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and sites of special scientific interest”, adding that the wording around “exceptional circumstances” had been removed.

The government is also adding a requirement for shale gas operators to conduct baseline monitoring of a site for 12 months before fracking commences. Existing regulations state that only three months monitoring is required. Fracking will also not be allowed in any groundwater protection zones. Currently, it is only banned from groundwater protection zone one, meaning it could have taken place zones two or three.

Other measures in the Labour clause exist already in regulations or in industry commitments on best practice. For example, a requirement for all fracking operations to undergo environmental impact assessments and for operators to disclose all chemicals they plan to use.

An amendment to impose a moratorium on fracking, introduced by a cross-party group of MPs on the environmental audit committee, was defeated, with only 52 votes in favour.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of industry body UKOOG, said: "It is good news that MPs have rejected the misguided attempts to introduce a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. Most of the amendments agreed are in line with best practice in the industry or codify the directions of regulators, which the industry would naturally comply with.”

Many MPs, including environmental audit committee chair Joan Walley, complained that a large number of amendments on a contentious subject were being debated in a very short space of time. The bill will now move to the final stage at the House of Lords, where the amendments will be considered again.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Swing voters show strong support for renewables

There is strong support for renewable energy as a source of economic growth among UK voters, particularly among those intending to switch their support for a political party.

16th May 2024

Read more

A project promoter’s perspective on the environmental challenges facing new subsea power cables

3rd April 2024

Read more

The UK’s major cities lag well behind their European counterparts in terms of public transport use. Linking development to transport routes might be the answer, argues Huw Morris

3rd April 2024

Read more

Tom Harris examines the supply chain constraints facing the growing number of interconnector projects

2nd April 2024

Read more

The UK government’s carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) strategy is based on optimistic techno-economic assumptions that are now outdated, Carbon Tracker has warned.

13th March 2024

Read more

The UK government’s latest Public Attitudes Tracker has found broad support for efforts to tackle climate change, although there are significant concerns that bills will rise.

13th March 2024

Read more

A consortium including IEMA and the Good Homes Alliance have drafted a letter to UK government ministers expressing disappointment with the proposed Future Homes Standard.

26th February 2024

Read more

Global corporations such as Amazon and Google purchased a record 46 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind energy last year, according to BloombergNEF (BNEF).

13th February 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close