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Unconventional Oil and Gas Exploration

Volume 594: debated on Thursday 19 March 2015

9. What recent representations he has received on the application of regulations to onshore unconventional oil and gas exploration; and if he will make a statement. (908201)

We receive a wide variety of representations on onshore unconventional oil and gas, and we always listen carefully to the views expressed.

The current regulations that apply to unconventional oil and gas exploration onshore have not yet been properly tried and tested. The protections given to national parks, sites of special scientific interest and areas of outstanding natural beauty were withdrawn in the Lords. Given that the regulations will not be published until July, what is the legal position on protections in or under national parks as regards any application that may be submitted this month?

The legal protections are in the Infrastructure Act 2015, which my hon. Friend played a role in shaping as it went through this House. I want to pay tribute to her for her long service in this House to her constituents: she has been unending in her determination to support them. I would say that anybody looking to propose a development of unconventional oil and gas ought to act as though the provisions of the Infrastructure Act were in place. There will be a period before they are formally implemented, but we need to ensure that development continues in the assured and careful manner provided for in the Act.