Let’s not fast-track fracking!

  • Contributor information: CNP

26 October 2018

Your National Parks are threatened by fracking despite current protections. Campaign for National Parks is urging the Government to reject the introduction of permitted development rights for shale gas exploration and prevent a fast-track for fracking in the planning system.  

In May this year, the Westminster Government announced plans to streamline the planning process for fracking. Fracking is a real threat to the environment – polluting groundwater, damaging the landscape and ruining the tranquillity of these beautiful places. Fracking is also a non-renewable source of energy, undermining the UK’s progress towards climate change targets. In light of these concerns, Campaign for National Parks is opposed to fracking in, under or within the setting of the National Parks.

Even though there are measures in place to restrict fracking on the surface of National Parks, there is nothing to prevent fracking from taking place underneath the surface of these areas. This means there is likely to be continued pressure for fracking related development just outside the boundaries of areas, despite them theoretically having the highest level of protection in planning policy.

Curbar edge in the Peak District

Curbar Edge in the Peak District National Park. Photo credit: Peak District National Park Authority

Currently, permitted development rights are generally used for minor changes to planning applications which are expected to have minimal impacts and are not anticipated to attract any opposition from the general public.

By contrast, most fracking related development are highly controversial and attract strong levels of opposition as is evident from the current protests in Lancashire. There are also a wide range of impacts associated with fracking including hydrogeological impacts, noise and air pollution, damage to landscape, tranquillity and wildlife, and increased traffic on unsuitable rural roads. This means that careful consideration must be given as to whether the activity is appropriate for the location and this can only happen if a full planning application is required.

For all of these reasons, it is essential that all fracking-related development is properly managed and monitored through the planning system and we strongly object, therefore, to the introduction of permitted development rights for shale gas exploration.

There’s no doubt that National Parks can make a contribution to the energy industry in England and Wales. However this cannot be at the expense of the special qualities of the Parks – the very reason they are cherished and protected.

Click here to read our full response to the consultation on permitted development rights for shale gas exploration