A public consultation on the impact of fracking is expected across Europe next year.
According to Independent MEP Marian Harkin The European Environment Commissioner Janus Potocnik has committed to an impact assessment in 2013, part of which will be a very significant public consultation, which will give citizens an opportunity to make their views known.
“Proposals from the Commission are expected in 2014. At last the EU Commission is taking responsibility for environmental concerns and that has to be good news. The Commissioner also agreed that the risks from fracking are greater than those from conventional gas exploration. This is an important first step in helping to ensure that the widespread environmental concerns surrounding the shale gas extraction process are at last being addressed by the EU,” Harkin stated.
The Commissioner also said in the European Parliament that existing legislation is not sufficient to address all risks arising from fracking.
Harkin told the paper, “For some time now, I and others have been saying that there were significant gaps in EU legislation, e.g. the need for a Mining Directive, the necessity to expand the remit of the Environmental Impact Directive and gaps in the Water Framework Directive, and the Commissioner’s statement has now confirmed this position.”
Two reports passed at the plenary session of the European Parliament this week called for fracking to be supervised, and for EU governments to exercise caution about allowing the exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels, pending further analysis of whether full-scale regulation is appropriate. MEPs said a “robust regulatory regime” was needed for all shale gas activities, including hydraulic fracturing, and that environmentally-friendly processes and best available techniques should be used to achieve the highest safety standards.
However the Parliament decided to vote down an amendment urging member states not to authorise any new fracking operations in the EU.
“While it is strictly up to each member state to legislate for fracking, MEPs should have sent a strong signal by discouraging them from doing so while laws remain weak,” Harkin concluded.