UK Onshore Industry Welcomes National Park Fracking Plans

Industry body UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) announced late Wednesday that it welcomes secondary legislation just passed in the UK Parliament that includes plans to allow fracking for shale gas under the country's national parks and in a number of other areas where fracking had previously been banned.

The passing of the secondary legislation is the latest step in the UK government's plans to develop a shale gas industry in the country. The UK had previously imposed a ban on fracking inside national parks in January, when the Conservative Party was in a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.

However, since the General Election – when the Conservatives achieved a majority in the House of Commons – the government has announced a range of measures designed to help boost the development of a shale gas industry in the country. These include the introduction of regulations to speed up shale gas planning applications by local authorities as well as a GBP 1 billion ($1.6 billion) shale gas wealth fund aimed at local communities who host shale gas drilling pads.

After Wednesday's secondary legislation was passed UKOOG said:

"The onshore oil industry takes the protection of our natural world seriously, and we have a long-established track record of developing oil and gas fields successfully and safely in environmentally sensitive areas. It is important to recognize that any future hydraulic fracturing for shale will take place several kilometers underground and as an industry we take all possible steps to minimize our impact on the environment and the surrounding communities."

However, environmental pressure group Greenpeace described the passing of the legislation as a "U-turn" and showed that the government had broken its promise.

Greenpeace Energy Campaigner Hannah Martin said in a statement released by the organization:

"What we have seen today is the government breaking its promise and forcing through regulations which will allow fracking underneath some of the most fragile and treasured landscapes in Britain. These areas have been protected for a reason: stunning areas like the Peak District, the North York Moors and the South Downs."

A former engineer, Jon is an award-winning editor who has covered the technology, engineering and energy sectors since the mid-1990s. Email Jon at jmainwaring@rigzone.com

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