Victoria Atkins MP addresses constituents’ concerns on fracking

Many constituents have contacted me with concerns about the impact of fracking on our local and national landscape.  

I understand and appreciate these concerns, but I have been reassured that the Government is creating a regulatory regime that provides clear, strong protections for the environment.

The regulatory regime will provide clear, strong protections for the environment. For example, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are protected, consent cannot be granted for drilling without an environmental impact assessment and operators are required to monitor methane levels in groundwater. The Government has introduced draft regulations to Parliament that define the areas in which fracking will be banned.

With safeguards in place, I think it right that we explore and make use of shale gas and oil, as part of a diverse national energy supply, as well as to secure jobs and investment. Each application will have to be judged on its merits.

I am, therefore, cautiously in favour of fracking, on three conditions: that the technology is safe, that the visual impact is minimal and that local communities are compensated properly.

For those constituents who have contacted me regarding National Parks, the protections cover National Parks and as such, fracking cannot take place at depths of less than 1,200 metres in these areas. The Government has clearly committed to ensuring that fracking cannot be conducted from wells that are drilled at the surface of National Parks, and I am confident that these protections will ensure that the beauty of our National Parks is protected.

The UK has one of the best track records in the world when it comes to protecting our environment while also developing our industries, and Ministers have assured me that that this experience will be brought to bear on the shale gas protections. The industry will be developed safely with world class environmental protections, creating jobs and delivering better energy security, while all the time safeguarding some of our most precious landscapes. 

Any constituents with specific concerns should email me at victoria@victoriaatkins.org.uk