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MPs agree fracking ban for national parks

Ministers have agreed an outright ban on fracking in national parks and accepted Labour proposals for tougher regulation, but blocked backbench calls for a moratorium on shale gas extraction.

Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint said the coalition had performed a "huge U-turn" by agreeing to Labour's demands for stronger safeguards around fracking.

The acceptance of the Opposition's amendment to the Infrastructure Bill came after energy minister Amber Rudd told MPs the government will be "effectively removing" the condition which would allow fracking in national parks in "exceptional circumstances", in an apparent concession.

Ministers also won a series of votes during report stage on the Infrastructure Bill, including a backbench attempt to place a moratorium on further fracking taking place - which was defeated 308 to 52, majority 256, after Labour did not take part.

The bill, which contains a range of other infrastructure measures including a roads strategy and planning reforms, received an unopposed third reading and will return to the Lords for further scrutiny.

Transport minister John Hayes said: "This bill looks beyond short-term political expediency to a future of greater investment, a future of more jobs, more opportunities and more growth.

"It's a bill which improves the funding and management of our major roads, streamlines the planning process, particularly for major projects, so facilitating investment.

"And it supports house building, introduces rights for communities to buy a stake in new commercial renewable electricity schemes, boosts our energy security and economic growth by making the most of our North Sea oil and gas reserves and facilitates shale gas and geothermal development."

Meanwhile, Labour warned the government against trying to tinker with its proposals for tougher regulation of fracking when the legislation comes before peers, saying ministers would be "asking for trouble" if they attempted to water down the protections in the Lords

Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Published on:
January 27, 2015
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