Fracking will be allowed to take place beneath national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, ministers have announced, despite committing to a ban in such areas less than three weeks ago.
Energy companies will not be allowed to base their fracking operations on the ground within the protected zones but instead will be able to station their drilling rigs just outside and then drill horizontally underneath them.
Preventing fracking beneath such areas would not be “practical” and would “unduly constrain” fracking firms, Amber Rudd, the energy minister said.
Fracking typically involves drilling more than a mile down and then horizontally, potentially for more than a mile and a half.
Labour warned the change could allow protected areas to become surrounded on all sides by fracking operations.
Patrick Abercrombie once said that there was no point in designating protected areas such as the North Downs if then you allowed ribbon development at the base of the hills outside the protected areas where most people will experience the natural beauty from.
This is the answer to this question. The planning system and the application of the Dower Test. It makes no difference if the amenity of a microbe living several 100 metres down is affected, it doesn’t affect the beauty test. If water is the issue then this is just as important inside protected areas and outside them, and groundwater has a separate system of designation anyway.