In the UK, we have been successfully regulating for gas and oil drilling for over 50 years and have tough regulations in place to prevent water contamination.
All hydraulic fracturing operations will require a groundwater activity permit. The Environment Agency will not grant a permit where the risks to groundwater are unacceptable. They have powers to impose conditions to ensure proper protection or to prohibit activities which they consider to pose unacceptable risks.
The Infrastructure Act 2015 required the Government to specify protected groundwater source areas within which hydraulic fracturing cannot take place, which we did in draft regulations debated in the House on 27 October. They define these areas as being equivalent to Source Protection Zones 1, which applies to those areas close to drinking water sources where there is the greatest risk associated with groundwater contamination. This will reinforce the regulatory approach, as it is consistent with the approach taken by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales to control the risks from other groundwater activities.