Permitted development for shale gas exploration - consultation

The purpose of this consultation is to seek views on the principle of whether non-hydraulic fracturing shale gas exploration development should be granted planning permission through a permitted development right, and in particular the circumstances in which it would be appropriate.

It is the Government’s view that there are potentially substantial benefits from the safe and sustainable exploration and development of our onshore shale gas resources. The consultation document atates that recent decisions on shale exploration planning applications remain disappointingly slow against a statutory time frame of 16 weeks where an Environmental Impact Assessment is required. Where there has been agreement on time extensions, applications determined by mineral planning authorities have taken up to 83 weeks for decision.

The consutlation adds that any developments that would be permitted through any potential permitted development right for non-hydraulic fracturing shale gas exploration, would still be required to receive the appropriate consents from the three regulators (the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and the Oil and Gas Authority) before development can proceed.

In line with the broad focus of the Written Ministerial Statement on supporting shale gas development, any permitted development right for exploratory shale drilling would only apply to shale gas exploration, and for non-hydraulic fracturing operations to take core samples for testing purposes. The governmetn consider that it would not be appropriate for it to allow for the injection of any fluids for the purposes of hydraulic fracturing. The right would not apply to all onshore oil and gas exploration and / or extraction operations. To also ensure that no hydraulic fracturing would take place and to ensure that the right is fit-for-purpose to align with the 2017 Conservative Manifesto commitment, it would be necessary to tightly define in legislation what development is permitted. Any permitted development right for non-hydraulic fracturing shale gas exploration would not be designed to circumvent the regulatory processes currently culminating in the hydraulic fracturing consent provisions.

Author: MHCLG

Date: July 2018 Date of publication

This item updates DCP section 25.131

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