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Fracking applications rejected in Lancashire, UK, and an EU Commission stakeholder meeting

Just over a week ago we published our new briefing and detailed report looking at chemical pollution from fracking. It’s been a busy 10 days since publication, with inaccurate criticism of our report from the UK fracking industry, two decisions on fracking applications in Lancashire, UK, and an EU Commission stakeholder meeting.

Lancashire County Council have been deciding on two separate planning applications for fracking in the county, one at Roseacre Wood, the other at Preston New Road; both applications came from the UK-based company Cuadrilla Resources. Last week the councillors voted to reject the Roseacre Wood application, while yesterday they voted against the Preston New Road site. These votes have led to some questioning the future of fracking in the UK, but there is likely to be an appeal from Cuadrilla. CHEM Trust had sent copies of our report to the councillors prior to their discussions.

Yesterday the European Commission organised a “Stakeholder Event on Unconventional Fossil Fuels“, as part of their work to review the ‘Recommendations‘ on shale gas that they published in January 2014.

As the coverage from ENDS Europe makes clear, there was substantial disagreement as to whether the EU legislative framework for fracking needed to be tightened. CHEM Trust was represented by Executive Director Dr Michael Warhurst, and called for stronger regulation, as ENDS states:

“A representative of UK NGO ChemTrust said the problem of lack of clarity on the legal framework had arisen in a case in England in which a firm applied to reinject saline water that came out with the gas and it seemed that this would be regulated under the Landfill Directive.[1]

An additional issue was pressure on regulators, with 15% of staff in the English Environment Agency cut last year, he added”

ENDS Europe also points out that it wasn’t just environmental groups that were concerned;

“A representative of water utilities association EurEau said there were gaps in the 17 directives that applied to fracking, particularly the Environmental Liability Directive, meaning new EU legislation was needed for the longer term.”

The Commission will be continuing to examine the evidence from this review process, before deciding the next steps. It’s worth noting that an oil and gas industry representative pointed out that the current low oil price is making fracking pretty uneconomic in Europe at the moment.

However, there could be more pressure to expand fracking soon and now is, in CHEM Trust’s view, the ideal time to create a more effective regulatory system. See our recommendations for details of what we think needs to be improved.

 

[1] The case described is at Ebberston, in the North York Moors National Park.