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Government needs to keep fracking promise, says RSPB

Last modified: 18 August 2015

Landscape view of Langford Lowfields RSPB reserve

Langford Lowfields is one of the RSPB reserves included in the fracking licence blocks

Image: Ben Hall

The RSPB has today [Tuesday 18th August, 2015] called on the Government to introduce new measures that rule out fracking within all protected areas, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), before handing out any new fracking licences offers.

Of the 27 blocks of land that will be formally offered to fracking companies for exploration, they included 53 SSSIs and three RSPB nature reserves; Dearne Valley, Fairburn Ings and Langford Lowfields.    

Reacting to today’s Government fracking licence offers, Matt Williams, RSPB Climate Change Policy Officer, said: “The Government is today doling out new fracking licences for areas of the UK that put some of our most precious wildlife sites under threat. Sites of Special Scientific Interest, such as Attenborough Gravel Pits and Fairburn & Newton Ings, are up for grabs for fracking companies who will be able to apply for planning permission to frack anywhere within these newly licensed areas.

“SSSIs are some of our most important wildlife sites. Species such as kingfisher, bittern and goldeneye could be put at risk in these special places and should be protected from the Government’s fracking plans. Questions need to be asked why the Government has begun handing out new licences before figuring out how it’s going to protect our most sensitive sites.” 

This is the latest in a string of announcements that have put the natural environment at risk from a growing fracking industry. In early August, it was announced Government want planning authorities to speed up the fracking application process, and that came only days after the Government reneged on a promise, made by Amber Rudd in February, to ban fracking on SSSIs.

“The Government should introduce new measures that rule out fracking within all protected sites, including SSSIs, before handing out any new licences,” added Matt. “This is just the first of a number of improvements that should be made to the regulation around fracking; changes that are badly needed to protect people and nature.”

In the near future the Government is expected to publish more detail on how it will fulfil a promise to ban fracking from Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks, World Heritage Sites and the Broads. The RSPB believes that this list of protection does not go far enough, and should cover all protected areas, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest.  

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