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Tougher Testing Rules Delay Fracking For Another Year

 Fracking is to be delayed for at least another year because of new rules that require 12 months of testing of groundwater before shale gas is extracted.

Cuadrilla, the energy resources company, hopes to win permission later this month to drill and frack up to eight wells at two sites in Lancashire. If approved, it would be the first full-scale shale gas exploration in Britain.

Francis Egan, the company’s chief executive, said the earliest that the wells could be fracked would be in July next year.

Labour forced the previous government to accept a clause in the Infrastructure Act 2015 that requires companies to measure the level of methane and other contaminants in groundwater for 12 months before the start of fracking. The results will be compared with measurements taken after fracking begins to check whether it affects groundwater.

The clause was prompted partly by claims in the US that people living near fracking sites have been able to set fire to their tap water because so much methane has leaked from wells into aquifers.

The industry claimed that the wells it was proposing in Britain were several thousand feet below aquifers and it was extremely unlikely that any methane would leak into them.

Mr Egan said he hoped the government would shortly publish secondary legislation that would allow the industry to drill holes to monitor groundwater without waiting for full planning permission for a fracking site.

This would reduce the delay to future projects, meaning that fracking could start within months of permission being granted. Mr Egan said the secondary legislation would also define what is considered under the act to be a “protected area”, within which fracking wells could not be drilled.

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Fracking in the UK won’t begin until July 2016 at the earliest due to new rules that require a year of groundwater testing before shale gas extraction, The Times reports.

Meanwhile renewable energies wind and solar are hitting record highs, last Saturday providing 12GW of power – equivalent to 40% of grid generation, according to Business Green and Renewable UK.

And the Conservative party’s big green energy project – the £1 billion tidal energy lagoon in Swansea Bay – was yesterday given the green light by Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, writes The Telegraph.

This comes as major British businesses – including energy companies EON, SSE and Scottish Power – have called upon the government to strike a strong deal at the Paris climate conference, to build a low-carbon economy, and to do it quickly, reports Reuters.

And finally, Scotland, for the fourth year running, has missed its emissions target, though it is still outperforming the rest of the UK in cutting its carbon dioxide emissions, the BBC reports.