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New information regime for fracking projects

Published: Thursday, 11th February 2016

Mineral planning authorities (MPAs) should provide key information to both the Department for Energy and Climate Change and applicants when approving relevant shale gas or oil developments.

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) director of planning Ruth Stanier has written to all mineral planning authorities in England explaining how these new arrangements triggered by the Infrastructure Act 2015 will work. The aim is to support decision making under the Petroleum Licensing regime.

Her letter made it clear that the information required will be needed when it grants planning permission in respect of any development that involves “associated hydraulic fracturing” or if the application is not clear, involves the “boring for, or getting of oil and natural gas from shale”.

MPAs should “clearly and unambiguously” set out whether environmental information has been taken into account when making a decision on an application. Stanier also said authorities should confirm that no land is involved within a National Park, the Broads, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or a World Heritage Site.

MPAs will also have to spell out that cumulative effects of the application and any other fracking activity have been taken into account. These new arrangements came into force from 4 February.

In a separate but related development the appeal by energy company Cuadrilla over Lancashire County Council’ refusal to allow fracking at two sites in the county began this week.

View the letter

Roger Milne