Fracking

The right protections are in place to ensure that fracking can go ahead safely without risk to our most beautiful and important natural sites. People should have confidence in these protections and in this vital industry which could create over 65,000 jobs, be worth billions of pounds to our economy and could generate greater energy security.

 
I appreciate people's concerns about fracking, however Britain has a strong regulatory regime for exploratory activities that will be updated as the industry develops. With these protections in place, I think it is right that we explore and make use of shale gas and oil. 
 
Regulations will protect some of the country's most beautiful areas, including National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Fracking cannot take place at depths of less than 1,200 metres in these areas. The Government is also committed to banning fracking from wells drilled at the surface of these areas and of Sites of Special Scientific Interest, in order to safeguard these beautiful landscapes.
 
In addition to the regulations and the surface restrictions, consent cannot be granted for fracking until the environmental impact of a development has been taken into account. Operators are also required to monitor the levels of methane in groundwater.
 
The Government understands that it is critical for the industry to have the confidence of the public if it is to flourish in the long term. 

 

Myth Buster 
Myth: #1 We no longer need gas 
Fact: Last year 40% of our electricity was provided by gas and over 85% of the UK population use gas for heating and 60 % for cooking. We also need gas to make petrochemicals which are used in everyday items such as plastics, fertilisers, synthetic fibres, cosmetics and medicines. 
 
Myth #2: Using gas is incompatible with our climate change commitments 
Fact: Every scenario proposed by the Committee on Climate Change to meet our legally binding carbon reduction commitments includes demand for natural gas. A mix of gas and renewables will enable us to meet our climate targets and the Government continues to invest billions into renewable energy through the Contracts for Difference programme. 
 
Myth #3: Fracking will destroy national parks 
Fact: There will be no hydraulic fracturing in national parks. In 2016 we confirmed shale exploration wells will not be able to be drilled in protected areas. A shale gas site is typically about the size of a football pitch. Drilling only takes 4-8 weeks and once the wells are drilled the large equipment is taken away. Wells can be returned to their pre-drilling state in as little as 3 years.
 
Myth #4: Fracking will destroy countryside
Fact: There will be no hydraulic fracturing in national parks. In 2016 we confirmed shale exploration wells will not be able to be drilled in protected areas. A shale gas site is typically about the size of a football pitch. Drilling only takes 4-8 weeks and once the wells are drilled the large equipment is taken away. Wells can be returned to their pre-drilling state in as little as 3 years.
Myth #5: Noise from fracking sites will be disruptive  
Fact: Noise is carefully managed and regulated by the local authority. The planning process considers and regulates noise impacts to local people and authorities can impose restrictions. For example, Mineral Planning Authorities are able to impose limits on truck movements or the hours of drilling. Shale gas operators will also use noise reducing fencing to further minimise any noise.
 
Myth #6: Fracking will contaminate the water supply
Fact: The Environment Agency will not permit any activity where there is a risk of contamination of our water supplies. Furthermore, high volume hydraulic fracturing for shale gas is banned at depths of less than 1,000 metres. This depth is far below drinking water supplies which are typically found up to about 250 metres deep. 
 
Myth #7: Fracking is incredibly water intensive
Fact: A typical shale well uses less water over a decade than a golf course uses in a month and a coal-fired power plant uses in 12 hours. Companies will only be allowed to use water for hydraulic fracturing if there is enough supply locally without affecting drinking water supplies or the environment. 
 
Myth #8:
Fracking causes earthquakes
There is a very low risk that shale gas extraction could cause a noticeable seismic event. The Oil & Gas Authority regulates on-site seismicity and any activity must be paused immediately if a seismic event above a very low, precautionary threshold is detected. These events can be triggered by readings lower than those caused by a rollercoaster and would not be felt at the surface.
 
Myth #9: Fracking requires the use of nasty chemicals 
Fact: The chemicals that will be used in the UK are non-toxic, won't harm the environment and are similar to those found under a typical kitchen sink. Under EU and UK regulation operators are required to publish all of the chemicals they are going to use on site. 
 
Myth #10: Local communities don't get a say in the decision to start fracking
Fact:  Local communities must be fully involved in planning decisions and any planning application - whether decided by councils or government - will continue to require a full consultation with local people.