Fracking Of The Infrastructure Act 2015 Essay

2094 Words Apr 22nd, 2015 9 Pages
Following enactment of s45-50 of the Infrastructure Act 2015, there are now legal restraints that apply specifically to fracking in England. However, in contrast to the Energy Secretary’s declaration that a “crisp and clear” regulatory regime currently provides “robust” protection against risks (HL, 2014), this piece will argue that significant uncertainty remains regarding how existing hydrocarbon regulations apply to fracking, while gaps in the permissions process also serve to compromise environmental and health protection.

Considering that the scientific study of the effects of fracking is “in its infancy” (Kovats et al, 2014), it will be argued that legal restraints should exist to minimise the risks of fracking in accordance with the precautionary principle.

Licensing and Permissions

Despite the “extensive uncertainties” surrounding the hazards of fracking (HC, 2015:3), it is suggested that the legal restraints on fracking within the permissions process provide inadequate protection against the health and environmental risks.
For fracking to occur, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) must grant a Petroleum Exploration Development Licence (PEDL) after a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) that considers the environmental effects of the proposed fracking development. However, the SEA appears flawed; the assessment assumes that all environmental and health hazards will be mitigated by appropriate regulation (Hawkins, 2015) despite legal…

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