The Guardian reported that Britain has defeated European Union attempts to set legally binding environmental regulations for the shale gas industry. According to the paper, David Cameron has led intense lobbying against the proposals, arguing that existing rules are strict enough to keep fracking safe and that new rules would delay investment and increase costs.
The Guardian says it has seen leaked documents from the European commission, obtained by the Euractiv news service. that show attempts to safeguard the environment with a new legally binding directive have been defeated by the UK, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Instead, a set of non-binding “recommendations” covering protection against water contamination and potential earthquakes will be published on 22 January.
In December, Cameron wrote to the president of the EC, José Manuel Barroso, stating: “It is essential the EU minimise the regulatory burdens and costs on industry and domestic bill payers by not creating uncertainty or introducing new legislation.” He added: “The [shale gas] industry in the UK has told us that new EU legislation would delay imminent investment.”
Keith Taylor, the Green party MEP for the south-east, (which includes Cuadrilla’s site at Balcombe) said: “It’s deeply disappointing that the EC is set to publish proposals that will do nothing to protect EU citizens from the dangers of fracking. The UK government may be pleased with this result but those living near shale gas reserves will be very worried.”