Thank you for contacting me about shale gas.
The right protections are in place to ensure that fracking can go ahead safely without risk to our most beautiful and important natural sites. People should have confidence in these protections and in this vital industry which could create over 65,000 jobs, be worth billions of pounds to our economy and could generate greater energy security. For these reasons, the Government is providing further reassurance for our most valued areas.
I fully appreciate people’s concerns about fracking, but let me reassure you that Britain has a strong regulatory regime for exploratory activities that will be updated as the industry develops. With these protections in place, I think it is right that we explore and make use of shale gas and oil.
Regulations will protect some of the country’s most beautiful areas, including National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Fracking cannot take place at depths of less than 1,200 metres in these areas. The Government is also committed to banning fracking from wells drilled at the surface of these areas and of Sites of Special Scientific Interest, in order to safeguard these beautiful landscapes.
In addition to the regulations and the surface restrictions, consent cannot be granted for fracking until the environmental impact of a development has been taken into account. Operators are also required to monitor the levels of methane in groundwater.
I am pleased that the Government understands that it is critical for the industry to have the confidence of the public if it is to flourish in the long term.