In a response to a consultation on the issue which was run earlier this year, the government said it would amend the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development)(England) Order 2015 "so that development which consists of the drilling of boreholes for groundwater monitoring for petroleum exploration can take place as permitted development".
It said that the amendments would "enable the drilling of boreholes for monitoring and investigative purposes in respect of petroleum exploration to be carried out as permitted development for the purposes of: groundwater monitoring – with the duration of the longer term right extended from six to 24 months for the longer use of land seismic investigation and monitoring; location and appraisal of mine workings."
On the drilling of boreholes for seismic investigations, the document said that the government considered "that it is important to obtain seismic data to inform any potential proposals for petroleum exploration, and it would be beneficial to be able to do this early in the process."
The document said that the detailed wording of the amendments to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 will be set out in a statutory instrument, to be laid before Parliament in 2016.
Further amendments to permitted development rights for petroleum exploration site investigation and monitoring Government response to the consultation can be read here.