Friday, December 18, 2015

UK Parliament Votes to Allow Hydraulic Fracturing Operations Under National Parks

On December 16, 2015, the British Members of Parliament approved the Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing (Protected Areas) Draft Regulations limiting hydraulic fracturing operations in defined “protected groundwater source areas” and “other protected areas.” The Draft Regulations were presented for debate before Parliament in July 2015.

The Draft Regulations define “other protected areas” as “areas of land at a depth of less than 1,200 metres beneath – a National Park; the Broads; an area of outstanding natural beauty; or a World Heritage site.” According to the National Parks Act of 1975, petroleum operations are prohibited on any land that is a national park. These new regulations mean that hydraulic fracturing operations will be allowed under national parks as long as wells are horizontally drilled outside the national parks’ boundaries – which revives the debate on essential questions relating to public concerns as to environmental protection. 

According to a media report, “Ministers used a statutory instrument . . . to push through the new rules, which means legislation can pass into law without a debate in the House of Commons.”

Writing by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow

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