UK MPs have voted to allow fracking for shale gas 1,200m below national parks and other protected sites. The new regulations – which allow drilling from outside the protected areas were passed after Ministers used a statutory instrument to push through the new rules, which means legislation can pass into law without a debate in the House of Commons. MPs voted in favour by 298 to 261. Opposition parties and campaigners criticised the lack of a Commons debate – and accused ministers of a U-turn as they previously pledged an outright ban on fracking in national parks. The government said its plans would protect “our most precious landscapes”. It said the UK had “one of the best track records in the world for protecting our environment while developing our industries”. Shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy accused ministers of using a “parliamentary backdoor” to try to approve the “weak regulations” without debate. The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, whose constituency includes part of the Lake District, said: “The government’s decision to sneak through a huge change to allow fracking in our national parks without a proper debate is outrageous. They have shown their true colours and complete lack of regard for protecting some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK and its wildlife.” More on the Guardian here.