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EA’s Lord Smith “misreported” on Green light for fracking in National Parks comment

3rd July 2014

Lord Chris Smith, the out-going chair of the Environment Agency, said he was “rather misreported” by The Times when he was quoted as saying fracking should be allowed in National Parks.

The paper published an interview with him on Saturday (28th June) headlined “Green light for national park fracking”. The first sentence said: “Fracking can take place in national parks because the visual intrusion it causes is minimal, and the environmental risks have been exaggerated”. The views were attributed to Lord Smith.

Later in the article, he was directly quoted as saying on fracking in National Parks: “I wouldn’t rule it out because provided it’s being done properly, the visuals impact can be very limited indeed. It will depend on any individual locations.”

But in an email sent yesterday to an opponent of drilling in National Parks, Lord Smith said: “What I actually said to the Times reporter who was pressing me on the subject (rather misreported in the eventual article) was that there would be many locations in National Parks where fracking would be inappropriate but that there might be some locations where – with the right constraints and regulation – it could be permissible. It would, however, depend very much on the nature of the location, and the access to it.”

Lord Smith continued: “The strictest environmental regulations would need to be in place (as with all fracking sites) as well as proper planning consideration of access and traffic.”

The email ended: “I just didn’t think that a blanket ban was the right way to approach the issue.

The South Downs National Park Authority is due to consider an application in the autumn by Celtique Energie to drill an exploratory borehole near Fernhurst.

A group of landowners in Fernhurst formed a legal block around the proposed site, in effect making it difficult for Celtique to drill a horizontal well. In April, the company revised its plans and said it would drill a vertical well only.

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