The climbdown is humiliating for the government – and particularly the Tories, who seem to have wanted fracking to be the centrepiece of its “We’ll do what we like, whether you want it or not” election campaign.
A committee of MPs called for a moratorium on fracking, on the grounds that it could derail efforts to tackle climate change – but this was ignored.
The Environmental Audit Committee also warned that there were “huge uncertainties” about the environmental impact of fracking – and this was also ignored.
But ministers pledged an “outright ban” on fracking in national parks.
And they acceded to the logic of the Labour demands, which were:“This is a huge u-turn by the Government and big victory for the protection of Britain’s environment,” said Labour’s shadow energy and climate change secretary, Caroline Flint.
“Labour has always said that shale gas extraction cannot go ahead unless there is a system of robust regulation and comprehensive inspection, but David Cameron has repeatedly ignored people’s genuine and legitimate environmental concerns over shale gas. Now, thanks to Labour’s amendment, the Government has been forced to accept that tough protections and proper safeguards must be in place before fracking can go ahead.
“While eight out of 10 homes still rely on gas for heating, shale gas may have a role to play in displacing some of the gas we currently import and improving our energy security. But that potential benefit cannot come at the expense of robust environmental protections or our climate change commitments.”
It isn’t what everyone wanted – this writer would certainly prefer fracking to be banned from the UK altogether.
However, Labour’s regulatory system is certainly the next best thing – far better for the environment and the people of this country than anything proposed by the Tories and the Liberal Democrats, who clearly don’t care about the environment at all, despite their posturing.
It may be too much to hope that this will put the frackers off…
But at least this decision gives us hope.
Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike
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