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Saturday, 2 August 2014

NFNPA welcomes Government fracking announcement

The New Forest National Park Authority welcomes the Government’s intention to safeguard protected landscapes against fracking.

In opening the bidding process for companies seeking licences to explore for onshore oil and gas, Communities Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon also provided some additional planning guidance for National Parks.

In a press release from the Department of Energy & Climate Change and Department for Communities and Local Government, Communities Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said: ‘We recognise there are areas of outstanding landscape and scenic beauty where the environmental and heritage qualities need to be carefully balanced against the benefits of oil and gas from unconventional hydrocarbons.

‘For this reason, I am today making clear our approach to planning for unconventional hydrocarbons in National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites.

‘Proposals for such development must recognise the importance of these sites.’

Paul Walton, Head of Environment and Rural Economy at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The New Forest is a world-class landscape with over half of it recognised as being internationally-important for nature.

‘We welcome the Government’s intention to safeguard National Parks to ensure these iconic landscapes continue to receive the highest status of protection.

‘As with all major forms of infrastructure, oil and gas development should only be permitted within our finest landscapes in exceptional circumstances, where the reasons for National Parks being created would not be compromised and where it can be demonstrated that they are in the public interest.’

The recently-adopted Hampshire and New Forest Minerals and Waste Plan already emphasises that any proposal for oil and gas should not be located in the New Forest National Park except in exceptional circumstances and where the reasons for National Park designation are not compromised.

A licence would provide the first step to starting drilling. In addition to a licence, any further drilling application would require planning permission (from the National Park Authority for sites within the National Park), as well as permits from the Environment Agency and agreement from the Health and Safety Executive.

An FAQ factsheet can be viewed on Hampshire County Council’s website.

Please do take this opportunity to give your views on fracking in the Comments below.

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