Dear National Park Authority,
ProtectedAreaWatch.Org is not alone in becoming increasingly concerned about the prospect of unconventional petroleum development within the UK’s National Parks & A.O.N.B.’s.
The South Downs National Park Authority, which is presently considering an application from unconventional shale company Celtique Energie, has stated on its website it cannot ban hydraulic fracturing within the National Park as:
” An outright ban on fracking may result in challenges to the High Court on the basis that an application was ‘pre-judged’. ” SDNPA Minerals & Waste Policy
This situation is unacceptable, unconventional hydrocarbon prospecting, especially controversial techniques like Hydraulic Fracturing are not suitable economic activities within our National Parks & A.O.N.B’s.
Although conventional oil production is already taking place within our National Parks – it is important to remember these methods carry lower impacts and associated risks and are activities that existed prior to National Park designation.
Unconventional Oil and Gas operations are not compatible or reconcilable with the environmental and sustainability criteria of National Park and A.O.N.B designation.
Specifically: to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of our National Parks, to safeguard air, water and soil quality or to promote sustainable use of resources.
The UK’s National Parks & A.O.N.B’s are protected in UK Law under numerous legislature, including the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environment Act 1995.
I see no validity in SDNPA’s assertion that banning fracking may result in challenges in the High Court and it is more likely that, on the contrary, attempts to allow unconventional oil and gas development within our Protected Areas will face significant legal challenges.
It is time the UK National Parks Authorities showed some authority and leadership on the matter and declare our National Parks & A.O.N.B’s frack free zones.
Editor, Protected Area Watch