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UK regulations are unfit for purpose and will not protect us – a detailed examination.

Fracking - Minding The Gaps by Jo Hawkins

Fracking – Minding The Gaps by Jo Hawkins

We are ‘reassured’ by the mantra, ‘provided we have robust regulation’ ‘ we have world class regulation’ ‘the UK has the most robust regulation in the world’ and so on. The Department of This That and The Other tell us that out health, wildlife, water, air, house prices and so on will be safe because we have ‘world class regulation’. Until now this has never been systematically challenged. A PhD student with time and insight and the ability to read legal terms has worked through all the regulations in the UK looking at Fracking. What she finds is alarming. In ‘Fracking – Minding the Gaps’ she discovers there is almost no regulation specific to fracking. Most is borrowed direct from conventional gas extraction and from off-shore drilling. There are recommendations rather than demands and a lack of precision.
Jo Hawkins has dissected the regulations and found them severely inadequate. She advised the Environment Committee of the House of Commons who wrote a report that called for a moratorium but was ignored by the government. The industry PR spin doctor explained that all the gaps had been closed. In a personal communication from the author, this does not seem to be the case.
‘World class regulation’ – yes, the world-wide finding is of poor, leaky and disappointing regulation, ‘robust regulation’ – sorry try again.

At present, the framing of shale gas and fracking activities as low risk is based on the assumption that a robust regulatory system is in place.76 This article has shown that this is not the case and that regulatory change is needed. Such a change requires recognition of the fact that the current regulation does not fit the technology and processes it is trying to control. Until this fact is acknowledged and addressed, the regula- tion governing fracking will continue to be inadequate.

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