The full article published in the Guardian on 7 January 2015 can be read here: The Guardian

Labour Party says it wants to protect Britain’s drinking water sources and reinstate the right of homeowners to be individually notified of nearby fracking


Labour’s proposal on water catchment areas would ban fracking in all groundwater protection zones. Government rules already ban shale gas exploration close to water extraction sites, but not in the wider catchment. Many of the groundwater protection zones cut through areas licensed for fracking.

“Shale gas extraction can only go ahead if we have a system of robust regulation and comprehensive inspection,” said Tom Greatrex MP, Labour’s shadow energy minister. “Despite clear flaws in the existing framework, David Cameron’s government has repeatedly side-lined legitimate environmental concern and seem prepared to accept shale gas at any cost.”

“With eight out of 10 homes still relying on gas for heating, shale gas may have a role to play in displacing some of the gas we currently import and improving our energy security,” said Greatrex. “But that potential benefit cannot come at the expense of robust environmental protections or our climate change commitments.”

Groundwater is estimated to provide a third of drinking water in England and Wales, it also maintains the flow in many of our rivers. In some areas of Southern England, groundwater supplies up to 80% of drinking water. The Environment Agency have defined Source Protection Zones (SPZs) for 2000 groundwater sources such as wells, boreholes and springs used for public drinking water supply. These zones show the risk of contamination from any activities that might cause pollution in the area. The closer the activity, the greater the risk. The maps show three main zones (inner, outer and total catchment) and a fourth zone of special interest, which is occasionally applied to a groundwater source.

You can view SPZs and find out more by clicking here and going to the EA’s information on groundwater and its protection in England and Wales.

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