FRACKING will be allowed to take place under national parks after the government gave the green light with new regulations.

Although drilling operations will not be allowed on the surface in the New Forest, it does not prevent energy firms extracting shale gas outside of the national park by drilling horizontally across rock.

The draft regulations set out further protections for groundwater and national parks, areas of outstanding national beauty, the broads and World Heritage Sites, ensuring the process of hydraulic fracturing can only take place below 1,200 metres in these areas. Drinking water is not normally found below 400m.

A spokesman from the New Forest National Park Authority said: “While we have some concern that the process of hydraulic fracturing can now take place below ground in National Parks, albeit 1,200 metres below ground level, we welcome the government’s clear commitment to ensure that fracking cannot be conducted from wells that are drilled in the surface of National Parks and we await further details.

“In the meantime, together with our partner mineral and waste authorities, we shall soon be consulting on a new Supplementary Planning Document for Oil & Gas proposals that may affect the New Forest National Park.”