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: 'Robust regulation and monitoring is vital'

Robust regulation and comprehensive monitoring are vital to ensure the public acceptability test is met when it comes to fracking, Labour's Shadow Energy Minister has said.

Tom Greatrex said: "With 80 per cent of our heating coming from gas and declining North Sea reserves, shale and other unconventional gas may have the potential to form a part of our future energy mix.

"There are legitimate environmental concerns that must be addressed before extraction is permitted.

"David Cameron's Government must take these issues seriously rather than drawing simplistic and irresponsible comparisons with the USA."

His comments come after the government announced the bidding process for licences to explore shale gas will open today.

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