South Downs National Park welcomes fracking ban

Anti-fracking campaigners at Midhurst.14LASEP11a-10 PPP-141109-203835006
Anti-fracking campaigners at Midhurst.14LASEP11a-10 PPP-141109-203835006

THE South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) has welcomed a government decision to ban fracking in national parks.

Chief executive Trevor Beattie said: “The government recognised the importance of the South Downs’ special landscapes when it was made a national park.

“This announcement shows a commitment to putting measures in place to make sure it stays protected and we await further details from the government as to how this will work.”

Despite wanting to go ‘all out for shale’, the government has been forced not only to agree to ban fracking in national parks, but also to set stricter conditions for fracking in individual areas.

It has promised to introduce measures so that fracking could go ahead only if it were shown to be compatible with climate targets.

The moves have come after widespread concerns from MPs across the political spectrum.

But anti-fracking groups believe the government’s actions are not enough to safeguard communities and their environments.

Brenda Pollack, campaigner at Friends of the Earth, told the Observer: “Public opinion and increasing concern from MPs has forced a retreat on fracking, but these concessions do not go far enough.

“It would not prevent fracking getting the green light in parts of Sussex, despite overwhelming opposition from local communities.

“The only way to safeguard our climate, local communities and their environment from the fracking threat is to halt shale gas completely.

“Ministers should stop believing their own fracking hype and concentrate on real solutions to the energy challenges we face – using renewable power and cutting energy waste.”

Repeating the call for an outright ban on fracking, Mrs Pollack said the current concessions would not prevent the current fracking applications in Lancashire, nor help prevent drilling in areas of West Sussex outside the national park such as Wisborough Green and Kirdford.

A plan from oil and gas exploration company Celtique Energie was refused at Boxall Bridge between the two villages last year and the company is appealing to a government planning inspector at a public inquiry in September.

The country’s first planning applications for full-scale fracking were due to go before Lancashire county council on Wednesday,(January 27) with an officers’ recommendation to refuse.

But Cuadrilla announced it wanted a deferral and the council agreed.

Villagers in Wisborough Green and Kirdford are hoping the eventual outcome will help them in their fight against Celtique’s appeal.