The Angling Trust has given a warm welcome to this week's climbdown by the Government which means that fracking will no longer be permitted in National Parks or in water sensitive areas covered by SSSI's or other special protections.
The fracking companies will also be forced to carry out environmental impact studies before any permission can be granted to drill through the water aquifer for oil and gas. The changes followed amendments to the Infrastructure Bill promoted by the Angling Trust and other wildlife groups which were adopted by the Opposition and eventually conceded by the Government.
Back in March last year the Angling Trust co- authored the report Fit to Frack? in partnership with the CPRE, National Trust, RSPB, Salmon and Trout Association, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and the Wildlife Trusts.
The report highlighted a lack of regulation around shale gas exploitation which could cause serious impacts for a range of threatened species including birds, salmon and other wildlife. It also raised serious concerns about the impact of drilling and water contamination on some of our most precious natural habitats such as chalk streams. These crystal clear waterways are highly prized by anglers for the quality of their fishing and known to wildlife-lovers as 'England’s coral reefs'. Some 85% of the world’s chalk streams are found in Southern and Eastern England.
Fit to Frack? called for all protected wildlife areas, nature reserves and national parks to be frack-free zones, for full environmental assessments to be carried out for each drilling proposal, and for the shale gas industry to pay the costs of its regulation and any pollution clean-ups.
Martin Salter, National Campaigns Coordinator for the Angling Trust said:
'We spent a lot of time talking to our sister organisations in America where fracking was allowed to proceed with minimal controls and caused some worrying incidents of pollution and contamination. The message from across the pond was crystal clear and we have been lobbying furiously for a proper regulation to protect vulnerable rivers and groundwater sources. These new protections are hard won but vital in ensuring the future health of the environment upon which angling depends.'
A spokesperson from the coalition for the Fit to Frack report, said:
'These amendments to the Infrastructure Bill will help safeguard our nation's wildlife, habitats and landscapes from the environmental risks associated with fracking, but there is still work to be done to ensure a robust regulatory system is established to offer protection for places still vulnerable to this largely untested technology.'