Over half of Britain’s landmass is now open to bids for drilling by fossil fuel companies seeking “unconventional hydrocarbons,” government ministers announced on Monday, granting millions of British residents the prospect of fracking “on their doorstep.”
Though the official announcement, along with subsequent media reporting, claimed that the government had created expanded guidelines for shale gas exploration in national parks and world heritage sites, a Greenpeace analysis found that the new rules “actually make it easier” for fracking companies to drill in these protected places by entrusting the Communities minister, currently the pro-fracking Eric Pickles, with the sole authority to determine if the request meets the criteria of being an “exceptional circumstance.”
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Even the facade of protecting these “special places” proves that “ministers accept that fracking risks impacts on the local environment,” said Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth.
Further, as The Ecologist’s Oliver Tickell points out, the position is “far worse for wildlife sites […] which are to receive no specific protection at all.”
“The Government’s desperate obsession with shale gas will continue to send shock waves across the UK, with millions of people now facing the prospect of fracking on their doorstep,” Bosworth continued. “If we want to boost energy security, tackle rising fuel prices and cut carbon we should be investing in efficiency and renewable power.”