Calls for tighter fracking policy

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Tighter policies on ‘fracking’ have been called for by members of the South Downs National Park (SDNPA) as they shape their joint minerals local plan to cover the next 25 years.

Members said they were concerned the government had not yet set in stone its commitments to safeguard protected areas and the South Downs National Park Authority needed to spell its policies out clearly.

Chairman of the SDNPA Margaret Paren said: “Given the government’s position is anything but clear it makes sense at this stage to have two policies splitting them into conventional and non-conventional drilling so there is greater clarity.”

The oil and gas policy before the committee laid out that proposals including extensions to existing sites would be permitted provided that where they involved fracking, surface development was outside the national park and other protected sites.

Planning committee members said they had concerns the emerging policies governing hydraulic fracturing did not nail fracking companies down clearly enough.

They asked officers to go back to the drawing board and come up new policies which separated the park’s stance on conventional oil and gas drilling and the controversial process of fracking.

The government made a commitment to ensure fracking cannot take place from wells drilled at the surface of national parks but there is no current legislation.

Ian Phillips told the committee minerals policy should be tweaked to cover all the eventualities of the ‘associated paraphernalia’ of fracking.

The draft minerals plan looks set to ditch 25 of the 27 sand and gravel quarries listed for possible excavation in the 2014 mineral sites study plan.

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