Opposing fracking in and under National Parks

The Campaign for National Parks is working to ensure that the most environmentally sensitive areas of the country are protected against fracking.

What is fracking?

Hydraulic fracturing, or as it is more widely known, fracking, is the injection of large volumes of water underground to extract gas or oil from shale rock deep under the earth’s surface. The water and other lubricating materials are forced (up to 2 km deep and 3 km horizontally) at a high pressure to extract the gas or oil.

What is our position?

We are opposed to fracking in or under our National Parks. Whilst we recognise that National Parks have a key role to play in delivering the types of energy infrastructure that will be required to meet the UK’s targets for renewable energy supply, this must be done in a way which is appropriate to the setting.

Fracking has significant environmental impacts – polluting groundwaterdamaging the landscape and ruining the tranquility of these beautiful places. Fracking is also a non-renewable source of energy and undermines the UK’s progress towards meeting climate change targets.

What is the latest update?

November 2019: The Government announces a halt to fracking “until compelling new evidence is provided” and confirms that it will not be taking forward the planning reforms proposed in May 2018. We are delighted that National Parks are safe from the risks of fracking activity for the time-being but believe that only a complete ban will ensure they are completely safe in future.

October 2018: We responded to two Government consultations on the planning process for fracking-related developments. We objected to proposals to remove certain developments from the local planning system as we are concerned that this would reduce the ability of local planning authorities to manage and monitor activities that have huge negative impacts on the environment and local communities.

May 2018: The Government announces plans to speed up the planning process for fracking developments. They will be consulting later this summer on proposals to remove the need for planning permission for certain fracking-related activities.  We are working with other NGOs to oppose these changes.

August 2016: Individuals are to be allowed to receive cash payments for agreeing to fracking – something we are very disappointed about. More info here.

June 2016: The Government published their response to the consultations on surface restrictions on fracking. They will use conditions on new licenses to restrict surface drilling and a policy statement to restrict existing licenses. At the request of the Welsh Government it will also apply to Wales. While this isn’t the outright ban we called for, it means there is a clear statement from the Government about restricting fracking on the surface of National Parks.

December 2015: The Government voted to allow fracking under National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and World Heritage sites. Following this they handed out new licences for onshore gas and oil exploration. More info here.

December 2015: In response to the Government’s consultation in November we submitted a response stating we are pleased that the Government has restricted fracking in National Parks but reiterating that there should be a complete ban on hydraulic fracturing in protected areas at any depth. See the full consultation response here.

November 2015: The government published a consultation setting out how it proposes to ban surface drilling in protected areas. However, the proposed measures do not prevent fracking activity taking place below the surface, which we are opposed to. In evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee earlier this year, the Royal Geological Society stated that “below c.200m there is very little information and data on the hydrogeological properties and potential for movement of pollutants through rocks below this depth”.

September 2015: We launched an e-campaign with other environmental organisations such as RSPBCPRE and The Wildlife Trusts encouraging people to email Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, saying why protected areas should be excluded from fracking. This was because we were becoming increasingly concerned about whether the Government was actually going to ban fracking in protected areas as they had made no progress on this despite their promises.

February 2015: The Government promised to ban drilling for shale gas or oil in or under certain protected areas, including National Parks, but did not make clear how this would happen.

July 2014: Revised planning guidance on fracking was issued by the Government making it clear that proposals for the extraction of shale gas in National Parks and AONBs must be considered against the major development test. We had raised concerns about the previous guidance published in summer 2013. More info here.

December 2012: The government lifted restrictions on the use of fracking on the basis that this would increase the security of our energy supply.