Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the environmental consequences of fracking. [36969]

Richard Benyon MP; Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Natural Environment and Fisheries): The impact of hydraulic fracturing on the water environment in England and Wales would be assessed on a site specific basis by the Environment Agency. This would happen via its role as a statutory consultee in the planning process, or as part of its consideration of the need for, and response to, an application for an environmental permit (under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010). The Environment Agency has its own in-house technical expertise which is used to support its role in protecting and managing water quality and resources. This expertise is available to the Government.