Track fracking plan by United Kingdom government prompts criticism

18 May, 2018, 15:06 | Author: Regina Silva
  • The UK’s total shale gas output has fallen

It is hopelessly conflicted over its climate change obligations and is relying on magical thinking about non-existent Carbon Capture and Storage to justify its capitulation to the shale gas lobby.

However, under plans outlined by the business secretary, Greg Clark, the drilling of shale wells in England will be considered permitted development, meaning no planning application is required.

'In their commitment to extract more gas than we can afford to burn, they are trying to remove planning control from everyone who understands their local area and make exploratory drilling as easy as building a garden wall or conservatory'.

Environmentalist groups were dismayed at the announcement.

The Scottish government outlawed fracking a year ago after a public consultation found overwhelming opposition to it.

Shale gas explorers will be able to drill test sites without applying for planning permission and fracking sites could be classed as nationally significant infrastructure, meaning approval would come at a national rather than local level. "The government's announcement today that they will review the planning processes regarding shale is a step in the right direction and there is much more that needs to be done".

The brokerage service will provide guidance to local authorities and developers on the planning process, while the regulator will bring together three existing regulatory bodies - the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and the Oil and Gas Authority - to act as one coherent watchdog for the fracking industry.

"But labyrinthine planning rules make it next-to-impossible to access the energy right beneath our feet", Commercial Director at Ineos Shale Lynn Calder said.

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The new measures sparked immediate protests from green groups who have long argued fracking presents an unacceptable risk of local environmental damage and could lock the United Kingdom into a new generation of fossil fuel infrastructure at a time when it is committed to deep decarbonisation.

Green co-leader Caroline Lucas said: 'These latest measures utterly undermine the Government's green rhetoric - and show that the Tories simply can't shake their support for fossil fuel firms'.

She said shale gas had the potential to lower energy prices, although opponents of the technology say there is no evidence this will happen in the UK.

And fracking in widely used in the United States, where it has revolutionised the energy industry.

Since test fracking triggered a small natural disaster in Blackpool seven years ago, no commercial fracking has yet started.

"This country needs a diverse supply of energy which protects and secures United Kingdom jobs and United Kingdom taxes", he said.

It looks like, after seven years, the battle over the future of the United Kingdom fracking industry is still a long way from being decided.

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