Safeguards against fracking: all bark and no bite?

Safeguards against fracking: all bark and no bite?

In an earlier blog post, I looked at the principal areas in which the Infrastructure Act 2015 (InA 2015) would affect fracking. A key question was the extent to which certain designated areas were to be kept free from fracking:

calls for a moratorium were rejected and instead a suite of amends were inserted into the then Infrastructure Bill... Certain areas, like Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Groundwater Special Protection Zones were to be free from fracking.

A crafty last minute amend in the House of Lords, however, has seen the safeguarding provisions at IA 2015 section 50, tweaked enough to remove their bite.  The legislation now states that fracking can’t take place within:

    • ‘protected groundwater source areas’ or
    • ‘other protected areas’.

The catch? These areas are yet to be defined – but this must be done through regulations by 31 July 2015. This means the hot potato has been thrown to the incoming government to clarify and in the meantime we have no moratorium and no clear protection.

In t

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About the author:

Simone is an environmental law specialist and is head of LexisPSL Environment.

Simone moved to LexisNexis from Clyde & Co where she trained. Whilst at Clyde & Co Simone gained experience in contentious work, including large scale arbitrations, private claims and regulatory breaches, and a variety of non-contentious issues. Some of her experience includes the EU Emissions Trading System, the domestic Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme, environmental due diligence, Energy Performance Certificates, permitting requirements and contaminated land.

Simone has written a number of articles, which have been published in various journals and is a trustee of the United Kingdom Environmental Law Association (UKELA).