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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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National Parks 'to be protected' from fracking

National Parks will be protected from fracking unless there are "exceptional circumstances", ministers said.

As the latest bidding process for shale licences opened, ministers unveiled new guidance on which sites can be explored for gas and oil.

A view of the Lake District National Park. Credit: PA Wire

Applications to explore in National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, World Heritage Sites and the Broads will refused other than in "exceptional circumstances and in the public interest".

Business and Energy minister Matthew Hancock said the new guidance will be "robustly enforced" to ensure Britain's "outstanding landscapes" are protected.

But Greenpeace said the policy would do nothing to reduce opposition to fracking, as campaigners continue to voice concern over the environmental risks.

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