Image courtesy of Lewis Clarke/Wikimedia Commons.

The British Parliament approved a new policy on Wednesday that will allow horizontal shale gas drilling beneath national parks and other protected areas.

According to the BBC, members of parliament voted 298 to 261 in favor of allowing unconventional gas drilling up to 3,937 feet below national parks and other protected sites.

The new policy will allow shale drillers to use horizontal drills to access shale reserves that sit underneath the country’s national parks.

However, the shale wellheads must still be located outside of protected areas, Retuers said.

Drillers will now be allowed to access reserves that sit beneath national parks, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads and World Heritage Sites, the BBC said.

However, sits of Special Scientific Interest were not mentioned in the proposal.

“The UK has one of the best track records in the world for protecting our environment while developing our industries – these regulations will get this vital industry moving while protecting our environment and people,” a Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman told the BBC.

The approval comes nearly a year after the British government agreed to ban unconventional drilling in national parks but rejected calls for a countrywide moratorium.

According to the U.S. Energy Administration, the UK has about 25.8 trillion cubic feet in unproved technically recoverable wet shale gas reserves.


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