UK Parliament votes in favour of allowing fracking beneath national parks
16 December 2015
MPs have voted to allow fracking for shale gas 1,200m below national parks and other protected sites. The proposals, first set out in July, would only allow fracking 1,200m below national parks, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads and World Heritage Sites and the drill rigs would have to be positioned outside the boundaries of the protected areas.
Opposition parties and campaigners criticised the lack of a House of Commons debate - and accused ministers of a U-turn as they previously pledged an outright ban on fracking in national parks. Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said there had already been "enormous debate" on the subject.
MPs overwhelmingly rejected a bid to suspend drilling for shale gas in a Commons vote in January, during which ministers also pledged an "outright ban" on fracking in national parks.
The Government said the rules will kick-start the onshore fossil fuel industry but would protect the UK’s environment and people living in it.
This news was followed by the announcement by Swiss-based multinational chemical company Ineos that it had won 21 new shale gas licences in the final part of the UK Government's 14th licensing round.
The majority of licenses are located in the old mining heartlands of North Yorkshire, the North West, and the East Midlands. The company, which is now one of the UK’s biggest Shale gas players, was awarded 700,000 acres on top of its existing 300,000 acres.
The company has committed to full consultation with all local communities and will share 6% of revenues with homeowners, landowners and communities close to its shale gas wells.
The announcement by the Department of Energy and Climate Change mean INEOS is now the biggest player in shale in terms of UK onshore oil and gas licenses, giving it access to one million acres of potential Shale gas reserves.