Areas to be excluded from fracking activities have been set out by the Government, through draft regulations that define the protected areas.
The draft regulations set out further protections for groundwater and national parks, areas of outstanding national beauty and world heritage sites, ensuring the process of hydraulic fracturing can only take place below 1,200 metres in these areas. Drinking water is not normally found below 400m.
Ministers also set out their clear commitment to ensure that fracking cannot be conducted from wells that are drilled in the surface of national parks and other protected areas in such a way as to not impact on conventional drilling operations.
However, environmental group Friends of the Earth has criticised the draft regulations, saying they have ‘given the green light to fracking under national parks’.
Glen Sanderson, new chairman of the Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “The Government is at the beginning of consulting on its draft proposals, so we are just at the start of this process. National parks are special places that are hugely valued by the people that live in them and visitors that enjoy them, and I am sure the Government recognises that.”
Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said that the ‘industry will be developed safely with world-class environmental protections’.