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Fracking set to be banned from 40% of England’s shale areas

Guardian analysis reveals new rules agreed by government will make huge swath of protected areas off limits for shale gas exploration

Fracking is set to be banned on two-fifths of the land in England being offered for shale gas exploration by the government, according to a Guardian analysis.

Such a wide-ranging ban would be a significant blow to the UK’s embryonic fracking industry, which David Cameron and George Osborne have enthusiastically backed.

There were setbacks last week after the Scottish government declared a moratorium and UK ministers were forced to accept a swath of new environmental protections proposed by Labour, leading some analysts to say the outlook for fracking was bleak

One of those new protections was to rule out fracking in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs), sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) andgroundwater source protection zones (SPZs).

Neither the government nor Labour have stated how much of the land available for future shale gas drilling – 60% of England – would be affected by the new bans. But a Guardian data analysis has revealed it is 39.7%, with large swaths of the south and south east off-limits, as well as the Yorkshire Dales and Peak district.

 

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