Germany relaxes fracking ban to allow "scientific trials".

FT: “Germany is to relax its outright opposition to fracking by allowing field trials of the controversial technology in a step towards tapping the country’s vast reserves of shale gas.
“….In new guidelines sent to German MPs on Friday, economy minister Sigmar Gabriel and environment minister Barbara Hendricks said the government would allow for “scientifically supervised exploratory measures” to be conducted over the next six years to gather evidence on the impact of fracking on the environment.
Germany has an estimated 2.3tn cubic metres of shale gas reserves but faces formidable public opposition to accessing the new energy source.
The country has the strongest Green party in Europe, with 63 seats out of 630 in the current Bundestag.
….The new guidelines, which are due to be adopted by Angela Merkel’s cabinet after the summer recess, recommend the current ban on unconventional fracking until at least 2021 but it will then be reviewed on the basis of the latest scientific assessments.
The government will end the moratorium on fracking for conventional gas extraction or “tight gas” – natural gas dispersed in silt or sand rather than trapped in rock – that has held in Germany since 2011. But unconventional or shale gas fracking above a depth of 3,000 metres will be banned.
….However, the government emphasised a series of strict environmental protections. Fracking will be banned in areas where water quality is officially protected, which rules out 14 per cent of Germany’s surface area, as well as areas containing spa water.”