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Farron criticises Government's move to allow fracking in National Parks

December 15, 2015 1:34 PM

Fracking [Schematic depiction of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas] (By Mikenorton (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)The Conservative Government are today attempting to force through plans to allow fracking in National Parks without a proper debate in the House of Commons. The Government will make the changes through a Statutory Instrument which means there is no Commons debate held around the details of their proposals.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron MP said:

"The Government's decision to sneak through a huge change to allow fracking in our National Parks without a proper debate is outrageous. They have shown their true colours and complete lack of regard for protecting some of the most beautifully scenery in the UK and its wildlife.

"It is tantamount to vandalism to not recognise that some areas simply must be protected from fracking so they can be enjoyed by future generations.

"The Liberal Democrats protected National Parks and important wildlife sites from fracking while in Government, and have consistently taken a cautious approach to fracking. There are some sites where fracking should be banned in all circumstances. Our priority is to make sure this happens and to focus on how Britain can best deliver a low-carbon future to tackle climate change."

The Liberal Democrats protected National Parks, important wildlife sites (Sites of Special Scientific Interest, SSSIs), Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and groundwater source protection zones from fracking while in Government, within the Infrastructure Bill. Now that the Conservatives are on their own, they have reneged on the commitment that was made. In the SI, fracking will be allowed in these places below 1,200m and in the case of SSSIs, at surface level too.

It is extremely disappointing that the Conservatives do not see the value in protecting these areas. This is just a part in what is a much broader devaluing of the environment which can be seen from the systematic unravelling of green policies by this Government including scrapping subsidies for renewables, selling off the Green Investment Bank and ending the Green Deal.

Liberal Democrats in Government ensured that a system of seismic monitoring will be in place, before, during and after any fracking process. We also ensured that local communities are guaranteed a say on whether fracking should take place in their areas, and will benefit from any potential shale gas well if they do. Fracking is not the answer to all the UK's energy needs, nor is it likely to provide the massive cash boost that its supporters claim it will. It will detract from investment in renewables which is where the focus should be in order to move towards a zero carbon Britain.