In the Conservative Party 2017 manifesto a commitment was made to develop a shale industry in Britain. The following statement was made:
We will legislate to change planning law for shale applications. Non-fracking drilling will be treated as permitted development, expert planning functions will be established to support local councils, and, when necessary, major shale planning decisions will be made the responsibility of the National Planning Regime.
On the 19th July 2018 the Government published two consultation papers relating to shale gas proposals. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published a consultation on the principle of whether non hydraulic fracturing shale exploration development should be granted planning permission through a permitted development right.This consultation paper can be found at Appendix 1.
The second paper, published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, is consulting on the criteria required to trigger the inclusion of shale gas production projects into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime. This consultation paper can be found at Appendix 2. The closing date for comments on both consultations is 25th October 2018.
The changes in planning law that would result are designed to speed up the planning processes or in government speak to introduce ”a range of measures to facilitate timely decisions on shale planning applications”.
The Consultations are of particular importance to our communities. We live in an area that is of interest to the shale gas companies who believe that shale gas might be extracted by fracking the underlaying shale layer, the Bowland Shale. Work has already started on two exploratory wells at Springs Road Misson and Tinker Lane in the parish of Torworth.
At the Tinker Lane CLG meeting of 12th September a representative from Nottinghamshire County Council told us that the County Council will make its own Council response to the consultations. Planning Officers have prepared reports of their take on the proposals in both consultations for presentation to the Planning and Licensing Committee meeting of 18th September 2108. A background paper can be found here. The officers recommendations on the Permitted Development Consultation are found at Appendix 3 and for the National Significant Infrastructure Project Regime at Appendix 4.
As Nottinghamshire County Council have worked on and granted the two applications for planning permission for exploratory drilling for shale gas and have much experience of applications and regulations of conventional oil and gas wells within Nottinghamshire their take on the consultations are considered a worthwhile read and are made available on the website.
The consultations are important, the outcomes might well have a direct bearing on how, and how quickly, the governments avowed intention to develop a shale gas industry is prosecuted. We urge the communities that are in the vicinity of the Tinker Lane exploratory borehole to respond to the consultations.