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Campaigners have argued that rules protecting National Parks from fracking could be bypassed due to a "giant loophole".
The Government has said fracking in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) and the Broads should be refused other than in "exceptional circumstances and in the public interest".
But environmentalists warned that as ministers have indicated that developing shale gas and oil resources is in the interests of the country, the rules could allow fracking in protected areas.
Official guidance states that if proposed development for shale oil or gas would lead to substantial harm or to loss of a World Heritage Site, planners should refuse consent "unless wholly exceptional circumstances apply".
Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Simon Clydesdale said: "By introducing an exception under a vague 'public interest' case, they've created a giant loophole that could allow fracking all over these protected areas, potentially causing serious environmental damage to our unique natural heritage."
A map shows the areas of Britain potentially available for shale gas exploration - also known as fracking.
As shown above, the areas in blue are those available in the latest round of licensing, while those in yellow signify areas where licences have already been awarded - including Blackpool, Brighton and Portsmouth.
More information can be found on the Department for Energy and Climate Change website.
A man from Newbury is cheering on his son as he competes in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Jack Alexander will be taking after his dad Gary as he takes part in shooting for the England squad.
Gary Alexander has represented Northern Ireland in previous years and many of the international shooting competitors are patients of his.
– Gary Alexander, Alex's dad
I’m so proud of Jack for having the opportunity to represent Northern Ireland this year – he’s a natural shot.
"Although I might prefer to be shooting in the competition, I’ll be supporting Jack as the team manager and will be at hand to help him and other competitors with their eye care. I always carry around an eye kit just in case there’s a problem. It’s vital that shooters in particular take care of their eyes as a lot of the final shot targets are 1,000 yards away."
The National Trust has welcomed new government guidelines dictating that applications for fracking in protected areas such as National Parks should be refused in all but "exceptional" circumstances.
The organisation said it was "right" that the Government addressed concerns about the impact on "special places", but called for the measures to be extended to nature reserves and other wildlife sites.
– Richard Hebditch, National Trust
This is a significant change in approach from DECC. We hope it will reflect a much more cautious approach that recognises the risks of turning some of the most special places in the country over to industrial scale extraction of shale gas and oil.
Stations and roads were underwater in Worthing today as storms caused flash flooding in the area.
Homes and shops were left damaged and people struggled to get around in water which came up to their knees in some areas.
A drone captured these images above a Worthing street which showed cars trying to manoeuvre through inches of water after a months worth of rain fell in just an hour.
Lightning and hail storms hit Sussex at the start of the morning rush-hour, with flash flooding causing disruption to travel.
A lively start to the week with intense thundery rain through the south-east already - and further downpours in places this afternoon.
A few scattered, light showers will drift through Northern Ireland, the West Country and Wales.
Elsewhere a fine, bright day with sunshine. Looking good in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games.
Highs of 22C in the north and 25C in the south, but muggy with the thundery air.
Two weeks worth of rain fell in just an hour this morning, battering England's south coast and causing flash flooding and disruption on the roads and rail. The Met Office said a "deeply unstable airmass" caused the storms.
ITV News reporter Richard Pallot reports: