The United Kingdom has allowed a fracking project in North West England, turning a blind eye on widespread controversy surrounding its plans for shale gas exploration.
The government’s last-minute approval for the energy site in fracking in Preston New Road, Lancashire, came Tuesday on the last day of Parliament before the summer recess, according to The Independent.
Hydraulic fracturing will begin at the site by shale gas extraction company Cuadrilla which has obtained the permit after meeting all the necessary requirements, Energy Minister Claire Perry said.
The approval for the project comes despite public concerns about the shale gas exploration which many say could have serious environmental impacts. The same site in Lancashire experienced two minor earthquakes in previous exploratory drilling.
Environmental activists and opposition politicians criticized the approval for the project, saying the government was in search of new fossil fuel resources amid an unprecedented heatwave that is partly due to rise in carbon emissions.
“This announcement has been snuck out on the last day of parliament. In the middle of a global heatwave the government is kickstarting a new fossil fuel industry. It should hang its head in shame,” said Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, in a Twitter post on Wednesday.
Independent government advisers at the National Infrastructure Commission warned earlier this month that current government plans were not enough to meet emissions targets as it relied on natural gas exploration.
Parts of Lancashire will be subject to a hosepipe ban from August 5. That comes as the shale project will need millions of gallons of water for the hydraulic fracturing. The water needs to be injected in high pressure to break the rocks below the wells to allow the extraction of the gas.
Activists said the government had better pursue green energy goals by investing in renewables, instead of forcing shale gas projects.
“There is no need to force fracking on this community in Lancashire when the alternatives are so clear,” said Liz Hutchins, Friends of the Earth director of campaigns, adding, “The government backed the wrong horse. Renewables have cleared the finishing line and have taken the cup while fracking is limping along on the first stretch.”
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