The laws that regulate fracking come mainly from 15 different European Directives. This includes EU-wide agreements on water contamination, air pollution, chemicals, climate change, biodiversity, environmental liability (who’s to blame for negative impacts), and a requirement to consult local communities and assess potential adverse effects.
If these rules are not faithfully transferred into UK law then our currently inadequate fracking regulations would be made even weaker.
It’s reasonable to worry that the government will not faithfully transfer these laws. They have often made clear that they think fracking regulation is already too restrictive and have opposed proposals to tighten it.
The UK’s track record paints a worrying picture for the future of fracking post-Brexit, especially if we lose EU environmental protections and legal systems.
There is a risk that fracking companies will try to exploit Brexit to water down environmental laws in their favour.
Last year INEOS and other chemical companies managed to win a £100m-per-year exemption from the carbon trading scheme from the government. We can only assume companies will fight for other exemptions from climate policy costs and green taxes.
With the concern about what a post-Brexit UK will look like, oil and gas companies are jumping at the opportunity to promote fracking. Instead, the focus should be on greener, community-owned energy.
It’s clear that the UK must accurately transfer EU rules into our own laws as a very minimum, if we’re to avoid a fracking free-for-all in a post-Brexit UK.