Fracking licence bidding to open as National Parks are protected

The bidding process for licences to explore shale gas will open today, the government has announced.

The government is committed to going "all out for shale", claiming it is important for energy security, jobs and the economy.

Critics argue shale gas - which is extracted by the process of fracking - is damaging to the environment with the risk of water pollution.

Ministers are also expected to announce that National Parks will be protected from the practice unless there are "exceptional circumstances".

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Fracking: Campaigners attack 'threat to public health'

Campaign groups have lined up in opposition to fracking as the bidding process for licences gets underway, with claims that the process is bad for the environment and unsafe to the public.

Campaigners have long opposed fracking in Britain. Credit: Martin Gerten/DPA

Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth say plans to protect National Parks will not quieten protesters, adding that communities should be offered the same safeguards.

Today the risk of fracking has spread. This threat to the environment and public health could now affect millions more people.

– Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth's energy campaigner

Ministers waited until the parliamentary recess to make their move, no doubt aware of the political headache this will cause to MPs whose constituencies will be affected.

– Louise Hutchins, Greenpeace UK energy campaigner

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