The UK Government said it is committed to a ban on fracking in national parks

The UK Government said it is committed to a ban on fracking in national parks

The Westminster Government has said it is committed to an outright ban on the controversial fracking of gas and oil in national parks.

And the Holyrood administration also called for a halt to any new ‘unconventional’ gas or oil developments in Scotland.

Hydraulic fracturing involves drilling deep into the earth and cracking oil-bearing rock by pressurised water, sand and chemicals.

The coalition Government said its commitment was to an outright ban on fracking in national parks, sites of special scientific interest and areas of outstanding natural beauty. It said it had previously published guidance that planning permission should be refused in national parks, the broads and areas of outstanding natural beauty, except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated they are in the public interest.

Previously we published guidance that confirmed planning permission should be refused in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated they are in the public interest.

A Government spokesperson said: “The Government has already built a robust regulatory system for the development of the shale industry in the UK.

“We are committing to formalise the safeguards, including a new ban on fracking in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and sites of special scientific interest.

“Successfully extracting shale gas out of the ground can create a whole new British industry, creating jobs, and make us less reliant on imports from abroad, but we recognise the need for a measured approach for this nascent industry.”

Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing today announced that there is to be a moratorium on granting consents for unconventional oil and gas developments in Scotland while further research and a public consultation is carried out.

The decision came days after the UK Government voted against a moratorium.

Last Friday, Mr Ewing wrote to UK energy secretary Ed Davey requesting that the UK Government do not issue further licences in Scotland as the powers over licensing are due to be devolved.

The Scottish minister said: “I am announcing a moratorium on the granting of planning consents for all unconventional oil and gas developments, including fracking.

“This moratorium will continue until such time as the work I have set out to Parliament today, including a full public consultation, is completed.

“The Scottish Government has taken a cautious, considered and evidence-based approach to unconventional oil and gas and fracking.

“I have listened carefully to concerns raised by local communities and environmental campaigners. We have put in place robust environmental regulation, tougher planning rules and successfully opposed the UK Government’s plans to end Scottish householders’ rights to object to drilling under their homes.

“We recognise that local communities are likely to bear the brunt of any unconventional oil and gas developments, particularly in terms of increased traffic and related emissions and noise impacts. These are issues that must be researched further.

“We have listened to legitimate concerns about potential negative impacts. However, we must also acknowledge that some take a different view and see opportunities in unconventional oil and gas extraction.

“We should never close our minds to the potential opportunities of new technologies, but we must also ensure that community, environmental and health concerns are never simply brushed aside.

“This government will not allow that to happen and I hope the actions I have announced today will be widely welcomed as proportionate and responsible.”

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