MPs have overwhelmingly rejected a bid to suspend fracking for shale gas. But the government agreed to Labour proposals for 13 new conditions to be met before shale gas extraction can take place. During a Commons debate, ministers also pledged an “outright ban” on fracking in national parks. Earlier, a committee of MPs called for a moratorium on the practice on the grounds that it could derail efforts to tackle climate change. The Environmental Audit Committee also warned that there were “huge uncertainties” about the environmental impact of fracking. Protests took place in Westminster as MPs gathered for a final Commons debate on fracking legislation in the government’s Infrastructure Bill. In the Commons, committee chair Joan Walley backed an amendment tabled by a cross-party group of MPs calling for fracking to be suspended for up to 30 months while an assessment is carried out. But the measure did not attract front-bench support and was defeated by 308 votes to 52. A Labour amendment was added to the bill, to loud cheers from opposition benches, which would impose 13 tests to be met before fracking. These include the completion of an environmental assessment and the need to consult residents on an individual basis. A ban on drilling in national parks was another of the suggestions in the Environmental Audit Committee’s report. Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood was among those protesting against fracking outside the Houses of Parliament. After Labour and other MPs tabled amendments to allow the change to be made, Energy Minister Amber Rudd told the House that the government would remove the provision that shale gas exploration would be allowed in such areas in “exceptional circumstances”. She later said there would be an outright ban in “national parks, sites of special interest and areas of national beauty”.
BBC News, 26 January 2015 ;http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health ;