CAMPAIGNERS have been outraged by the government’s decision to allow fracking beneath the New Forest and other national parks.

The Campaign for National Parks and councillors have spoken out after MPs held a ballot vote, approving fracking under National Parks.

The group have said they are “disappointed” by the decision and council members have said they are shocked by the u-turn in government policy.

It comes after an earlier promise by government that they would ban fracking in National Parks – but there was speculation as officials never revealed how they would achieve this.

Now the announcement has been made that they will be legally allowed to use the borders of National Parks for fracking below depths of 1,200m.

Fiona Howie, chief executive of Campaign for National Parks said: “It is really disappointing that the regulations have been approved. Especially as Parliament were not given the chance to consider and discuss the concerns we have been raising.

“Fracking should not be allowed to take place under National Parks and other protected areas. We don’t yet know what the longer-term effects of this would be on these protected areas, so given this uncertainty the Government should have kept to their word and prevented hydraulic fracturing in protected areas at any depth.”

The move to allow fracking to take place under national parks was first proposed earlier this year and concerns were raised as fracking has been linked to earthquakes and other environmental problems.

The government said the legislation needed to be flexible to prevent the fracking industry being “unduly constrained”.

Julian Lewis, Tory MP for New Forest East said he abstained from voting because he felt fracking was an “absolute certainty” but that he still believed no fracking should take place in national parks until its impact on other “less sensitive” parts of the country had been assessed.

He said: “The fact that government have taken the legal power to do this doesn’t in any way alter my view that they shouldn’t approach fracking in sensitive areas or known areas of beauty until several years of experience and knowledge in parts of the country that aren’t so sensitive. I hope the Government will be sensible about this.”

MPs voted on the proposal yesterday which defined protected areas where shale gas extraction would be banned and regulations states fracking can only take place 1,200 metres below national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, world heritage sites, the Broads and certain groundwater areas.

David Harrison, Lib Dem councillor and member of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: “I’m very disappointed by the government’s u-turn having promised that there would be a ban of fracking in national parks and we now have the prospect of fracking on the borders of national parks in some areas which will pollute the landscape and certainly increase the number of HGVs in the area.

“It seems the government are going to release terms today about where could be affected so we are waiting on tender hooks, I imagine the west of New Forest will be mainly affected.

He added: “I believe that fossil fuels should stay in the ground, we have recently been told the government want to reduce carbon emissions and tackle global warming but we know that fracking will release carbon into the atmosphere. The government should be looking at renewable energy, it’s a growing green industry but the government seem to be thinking that fracking is the future, I think they are blatantly wrong.”