Laying down the law: planning for fracking operations

Andrew Wiseman outlines new government proposals to speed up the planning process for onshore gas and oil applications to help trigger shale exploration in the UK.

Proposals to fast-track shale gas planning applications have been announced by the departments of energy and climate change (Decc) and the communities and local government (Dclg).

Energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd said: “We can’t have a planning system that sees applications dragged out for months, or even years on end.”

Opponents of fracking have queried whether the changes are about improving the planning system or simply trying to achieve different result from those that the planning authority might take.

A case in point

The joint announcement follows a high-profile example of the difficulty in obtaining planning permission for shale gas exploration. In June, Lancashire County Council rejected Cuadrilla Resources’ planning application to drill, fracture and flow test four shale gas wells at Preston New Road, near Blackpool.

Cuadrilla had originally submitted the application in June 2014 for the site and another at Roseacre Wood, also in Lancashire. The council took 12 months to reach a final decision. The ...

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