UK’s Cameron urges EU to cut fracking ‘red tape’

Letter to EC chief Barroso calls for minimal shale gas regulations and says climate targets should be simplified

(Pic: Number 10/Flickr)

(Pic: Number 10/Flickr)

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has written to the head of the European Commission warning him not to back tough new regulations on shale gas drilling.

The EU is due to publish guidance on fracking at the end of January 2014 as part of its climate change strategy leading up to 2030.

In a letter to EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso dated December 4 Cameron says “lengthy timeframes” surrounding new regulations could deter investors.

“I believe the existing EU legislative framework and robust guidance is sufficient to ensure that shale gas activities can be regulated in a safe and sustainable manner,” Cameron writes.

“The UK’s world-leading environmental regulation experts are ready to work with DG Environment to facilitate further dissemination of best practice across the EU.”

Yesterday the UK’s energy department published its ‘fracking roadmap’, revealing that it considers around half of the country is suitable for drilling operations.

Shale gas exploitation has already proved to be controversial in the UK, inciting protests in the West Sussex village of Balcombe earlier this year.

In the past two days campaigners have also attempted to block access to a fracking site in Manchester, dropping off a 56ft wind turbine blade and parking a bus outside the entrance.

Cameron also calls for the EU to adopt a 40% carbon reduction goal for 2030, rising to 50% if an ‘ambitious’ UN deal is agreed in 2015, but says it should reduce its three climate targets to one, combining renewables, emissions and energy efficiency in one figure.

“It is essential that we avoid regulation or targets that will force Member States away from their least cost decarbonisation pathway, or undermines a level technology playing field,” he writes.

“The voters in many Member States will become increasingly resistant to climate targets where they are deemed to be expensive, inflexible and insensitive to national and regional needs.”

The UK has long campaigned for the EU to drop its renewables target, a stance many believe it linked to planned investment in nuclear energy, which is not counted as ‘renewable’.



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