Anti-fracking campaigners in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire are urging their MP to oppose regulations that fail to ban hydraulic fracturing in some protected areas, despite a government promise.
Frack Free Ryedale has written to the Thirsk and Malton MP, Kevin Hollinrake, asking him to speak against the regulations at a parliamentary committee tomorrow (Tuesday) and vote against them in the House of Commons.
Tomorrow’s committee will discuss regulations that add detail to the Infrastructure Act, passed by parliament in February. In their present form, the regulations do not ban fracking in Sites of Special Scientific Interest despite an earlier government promise. Nor do they ban fracking in all groundwater Source Protection Zones, even though the government accepted an opposite amendment during the passage of the Infrastructure Bill.
The regulations are contained in a parliamentary device called a “statutory instrument”. The draft proposes to ban fracking in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. But there would be no restrictions on fracking at depths of 1,200m under these protected areas or on placing fracking infrastructure within their boundaries.
Frack Free Ryedale, which is opposing Third Energy’s plans to frack at an existing well at Kirby Misperton, said in its letter that Mr Hollinrake had “consistently argued in favour of fracking, provided there are robust regulations in place”. The letter continued:
“Those robust regulations must surely start with a commitment to ban fracking from areas that have already been officially designated by law as having high intrinsic value, either because they provide us with drinking water, are important wildlife reserves, and have important landscape value for wildlife, the general public and the local economy.”
The letter asks Mr Hollinrake to attend the committee meeting and speak against the regulations.
David Davis, of Frack Free Ryedale, said: “It is clear that the government have broken its promise to ban fracking in protected areas, including SSSIs and GPZs, the aquifers that provide us with our drinking water.”
“It is time for Mr Hollinrake to show his constituents that he supports strong regulation by opposing this ill-conceived and dangerous legislation.”
In an interview with DrillOrDrop, Mr Hollinrake said he thought regulation of fracking seemed to be strong. But he said “I’m not going to take anything on trust. And I absolutely want to make sure those regulations are enforced properly”.
We asked Mr Hollinrake’s office this morning if he was planning to attend the committee. We’ll update this post when we receive a response.
The Draft Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing (Protected Areas) Regulations 2015 will be discussed by the Second Designated Legislation Committee. It meets at 2.30pm tomorrow in Committee Room 9 at the Houses of Parliament. The regulations will come to the House of Commons soon after. They will be voted by the full house only if enough MPs shout ‘No’.
More details on the committee and its membership.