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Labour plans stricter rules for UK’s fracking industry



The Labour party has announced it will try to strengthen regulation for the British shale gas industry in the infrastructure bill, said to be too bland in relation to environmental assessment and monitoring of toxic fluids and methane levels.

On Tuesday, the opposition will lobby to add to the bill well-by-well disclosure of the fracking fluid being used, monitoring of methane levels in groundwater and environmental impact assessments for every fracking well.

This is despite the government’s claims that fracking – or hydraulic fracturing, the practice of pumping chemicals into shale rocks to extract gas – is safe and would contribute to national energy security, a position that according to Greenpeace is damaging the Conservative party in the light of 2015 elections.

Shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex said, “Shale gas extraction must only be permitted to happen in the UK with robust regulation and comprehensive monitoring. Too often, David Cameron’s government has ignored genuine and legitimate environmental concerns in pursuit of a rhetoric-led policy.

“With eight out of ten homes still reliant on gas for heating, and with declining North Sea gas reserves, shale may have a role to play in displacing imported gas. The type of relentless hype from many Tories not only overplays the likely impact of shale, but also leaves many feeling their concerns have not been properly addressed.”

Despite being promoted as a low-carbon form of energy essential to the UK’s energy future, fracking has met fierce opposition by both environmentalists, local communities and experts, as it has been suggested that not only can it not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it could also increase the likelihood of groundwater contamination and methane leakage.

In a recent poll, it was revealed that public support for fracking has fallen, with only 24% of Britons saying they support shale gas extraction.

Photo: Department of Energy and Climate Change via Flickr

Further reading:

Steep decline in British public’s fracking support, poll shows

Thousands plan to protest against Cuadrilla fracking in Lancashire

Scientists warn expansion of fracking is outpacing research into environmental impacts

Fracking will reduce Tory chances of winning the election, says Greenpeace

British national parks open to fracking ‘under exceptional circumstances’, government says