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Labour seeks fracking restrictions to protect drinking water



The Labour Party is seeking to ban fracking for shale gas on land that collects Britain’s drinking water in proposed amendments to the government’s infrastructure bill. A campaign group has said such a move is “basic common sense”.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is gradually becoming more widespread in the UK although the method of extracting shale gas remains controversial.

Those supporting fracking claim it can be used as a transition fuel towards a low-carbon economy and that with the correct regulations in place will not cause harm. However, opponents argue that the risks, such as environmental damage, water contamination and methane leaks, outweigh the gains.

In a proposal the Labour Party puts forward amendments to the governments infrastructure bill, which contains the controversial provision to allow fracking companies to drill under people’s homes that Labour also opposes.

The proposal states, “The carrying out of hydraulic fracturing in connection with the exploitation of unconventional petroleum in relevant land shall be prohibited.”

It goes on to explain that ‘relevant land’ means land that is located within the boundary of a groundwater source protection zone as specified by the Environment Agency.

Responding to the proposal, Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Donna Hume said, “Labour’s call for a ban on fracking near aquifers and for other safeguards is the right one – its is basic common sense to not risk Britain’s drinking water.

“While Labour’s set of proposals is a welcome break the government’s gung-ho pursuit of controversial fracking whatever the costs, the truth is that any fracking is highly risky for people’s health and the environment and has no place in any community.”

A poll of the UK public from September 2014 found that whilst Brits have slightly warmed to fracking, approval remains low when compared to renewables. The poll found that just over a fifth of those surveyed approved of shale gas.

Photo: Nicholas A. Tonelli via Flickr 

Further reading:

Davos: David Cameron ‘undermining climate change efforts’ with fracking support

Cabinet reshuffle: new energy ministers oppose green energy and support fracking

Fracking boom will increase global carbon emissions, scientists warn

Poll: UK perception of fracking improves, but public prefers renewables

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