The Labour Party is to make an attempt at tightening the regulations for the extraction of shale gas, it has announced today.
Shadow Energy Minister Tom Greatrex is to put forward 11 amendments to the government’s Infrastructure Bill, which includes rules that allow shale gas developers to drill under people’s homes.
The proposals are designed to “close key loopholes” in the environmental regulations and include tougher requirements for fracking companies. They include monitoring and reporting on methane emissions, strengthening independent inspections of wells and providing more information on the chemicals used in the fracking process.
Also known as hydraulic fracturing, it involves injecting huge amounts of water and chemicals at high pressure into shale rocks so they force open and release oil or gas.
Labour’s proposals are also aimed at providing further protection for National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Areas of Specific Scientific Interest.
Mr Greatrex said shale gas extraction “cannot go ahead” unless there is a system of “robust regulation and comprehensive inspection”.
He added: “Despite clear flaws in the existing framework, David Cameron’s government has repeatedly side-lined genuine and legitimate environmental concern and seems prepared to accept shale gas at any cost.”
A DECC spokesperson said in response: “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks and the Broads are already protected. Planning guidance published in July stated that planning permission should be refused in these areas except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated they are in the public interest.
“Robust regulations are already in place to ensure on-site safety, prevent water contamination and mitigate seismic activity and air pollution.”
Last week the Environmental Audit Committee launched an inquiry into the environmental risks from fracking operations in the UK.