The government has just announced that it’s pretty much going to ban fracking for oil and or gas in 25% of the country. This is not actually what they’ve said, of course not, but it is what they mean. For they’re saying that the rules will make fracking in national parks and or areas of outstanding natural beauty much more difficult. To the point that only if a deposit is of great economic importance will drilling be allowed.
We might think this is just fine: we’d not drill under Westminster Abbey after all and there might be parts of the country that are simply so beautiful that we wouldn’t want anyone to put a couple of shipping containers of equipment behind concealing hedges. That’s possible, even if unlikely.
However, the part that people will miss here is quite how much of the country this blocks off. Some 25% of it in fact.
National parks and other areas of important countryside will be protected from fracking, ministers will announce in a move that will head off anger in the Tory heartlands ahead of the election.
While stopping short of a total ban, the Government will unveil new planning guidance to make it harder to drill fracking wells in national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.
In a significant concession, the new rules state that fracking should only be allowed in the most precious areas of British countryside in “exceptional circumstances”.
Any will say “Oh, how sensible” to that. But then add in quite how much land this covers. National Parks cover some 10% of the country. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty a further 15%. People don’t seem to realise quite how much of the country is already being pickled in aspic.
There’re very definitely people who don’t want us to have access to this lovely cheap energy for whatever reason. Sadly, some of them are currently in government and making the rules.