DCLG announces £800,000 to help councils handle shale gas applications

The government has announced a new tranche of funding worth £800,000 that councils can bid for to help them deal with shale gas planning applications.

DCLG: new financial support for councils dealing with fracking applications announced
DCLG: new financial support for councils dealing with fracking applications announced

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has also published a new Shale Gas Prospectus setting out how mineral planning authorities can bid for the funding.

A letter to council planning chiefs from DCLG chief planner Steve Quartermain said the new £800,000 pot is a continuation of funding provided last year.

Last year, the government made £1.2million of funding available for mineral planning authorities for 2015/16 for the same purpose.

The prospectus states: "The government recognises shale represents a new area for mineral planning authorities and that it will present complex and challenging issues for them in processing shale planning applications.

"This will support mineral planning authorities in processing and considering shale planning applications in an efficient, timely and effective manner."

The document goes on to say that the nature of shale gas development could mean that an authority "might need to draw on additional technical expertise" or "additional support" to "manage and assess representations made on the application efficiently".

Authorities can bid when they reach "defined trigger points" in the planning application process, which are outlined in the prospectus. These points must be reached on or before 17 February 2017.

They will be eligible to bid for funding up to a maximum amount at key stages during the planning application process. For the pre-application stage, the maximum bid level is £30,000; for post-receipt of an application up to £110,000; and post-decision, up to £20,000.

The prospectus says that funds will be allocated "on a first come-first served basis". 

To be eligible for funding, the authority must confirm that the bid "relates to a proposal, planning application or planning permission for development involving the boring for, or getting of, oil or gas from shale and is for a site within an area covered by a Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence".

In addition to the £800,000 funding, mineral planning authorities can also "request complementary support from the Advisory Team for Large Applications (ATLAS) to help them with the development of their community engagement strategy" as well as advice from the Planning Advisory Service.

The prospectus can be found here.

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