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30/07/2014

Mixed response to guidance on beauty spot fracking

AONB

Campaign groups and other organisations have given mixed reactions to the government’s efforts to protect beauty spots from shale gas extraction.

Greenpeace questioned whether the guidance announced on Monday, made it easier to drill in national parks by giving the communities secretary the right to overrule local authorities.

It also raised concerns about how “exceptional circumstances”, in which drilling in beauty spots would be permitted, could be tested.

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth said that the benefits of UK shale gas have been “seriously over-blown”.

“By protecting national parks and other special places, ministers accept that fracking risks impacts on the local environment, this safeguard should be offered to communities too,” he said.

The National Trust, which owns large areas of land in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, welcomed the planning guidance but said it should be extended to include nature reserves, other wildlife sites and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The Local Government Association (LGA) called for an increase in the 1% of revenue from drilling currently being proposed for local communities.

Mike Jones, chair of the LGA’s Environment and Housing Board, said: "The community in an area where any council approves the extraction of shale gas must not be short-changed and should receive up to 10 per cent of the revenue from sales to mitigate the adverse impacts of development and deliver significant community benefit.

“Payment of all community benefits and revenues must also be mandatory, not voluntary, and enforceable by law. If any site is given permission it must be subject to robust and independent monitoring to ensure that the local environment is fully protected."

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