The U.K. has lifted a ban on exploratory hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking, the government's Department of Energy and Climate Change announced in a statement. The process will be subject to new controls, however, aimed at mitigating the risks of seismic activity.
These controls include a preliminary assessment of such risks, the submission of a fracking plan to the department, seismic monitoring before, during, and after the fracking project, and the installation and operation of an alert system.
The government instituted its ban in May 2011, following the detection of two small seismic tremors near the country's only fracking operations. Thus far, there has been no commercial shale gas production in the country.
In its statement, the Department quoted Secretary Edward Davey as saying, "we are strengthening the stringent regime already in place with new controls around seismic risks. And as the industry develops we will remain vigilant to all emerging evidence to ensure fracking is safe and the local environment is protected." He noted that shale gas "represents a promising new potential energy resource for the UK."
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