Pressure mounts over Peak District gas drilling

National Park campaigners have slammed this week's government decision to allow controversial fracking under protected lands.

Friday, 18th December 2015, 11:59 am
Drilling at a Cuadrilla rig (example shown) was suspended after a minor tremour.

A vote was passed in favour of allowing gas companies to drill at least 1,200 metres under national parks and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, provided drilling takes place from outside the boundary of the sites.

The Peak district is among a number of national parks designated as having favourable geology for fracking, and now Campaign for National Parks said they are disappointed by MPs' partial retreat after promising to ban fracking in National Parks.

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After the latest batch of licences, a decision is pending on land just outside the Peak District (dark green).

Fiona Howie, chief executive of Campaign for National Parks said: “It is really disappointing that the regulations have been approved. Especially as Parliament were not given the chance to consider and discuss the concerns we have been raising.

Fracking involves drilling down thousands of feet and then turning drills to travel horizontally under the surface. (Crown Copyright)

"Fracking should not be allowed to take place under National Parks and other protected areas. We don’t yet know what the longer-term effects of this would be on these protected areas, so given this uncertainty the Government should have kept to their word and prevented hydraulic fracturing in protected areas at any depth.”

They join Greenpeace campaigners who said the move could mean a 'ringed by fracking rigs' around the Peaks.

Glossop based campaigner Martin Porter said: "It's the pantomime season, and the government is doing a very good jobs of being the pantomime villain. Not only will this decision upset people like me who think fracking shouldn't go ahead under any circumstances, it will annoy people who may support fracking but don't think National Parks are the place to do it, and also people who may not have an opinion either way, but who think decisions like this should be made locally and not imposed by Westminister

"Five days ago the government signed the Paris agreement on keeping climate change below two degrees by 2100. Climate chaos beckons unless we phase out fossil fuels. Instead the government is adding a new dirty fuel to the mix whilst killing off the renewables industry."

We issues calls to MPs around the Peak District to justify their vote on the topic. Bolsover MP and staunch opponent said: "This fracking bull should have been preceded by a debate. I thought it was very unusual to do it on the deferred motion - it's not satisfactory for a thing as important as fracking. The idea that it can intrude into national parks is offensive to the vast majority of people."

Conservatives Patrick McGloughlin, Andrew Bingham, Pauline Latham and Labour's Toby Perkins are all yet to respond.