Over the last couple of days, some newspapers have been misreporting the regulation of the potential shale reserves that could play a key role in securing Britain’s future energy supplies. We want local communities to play an important role in helping to safely develop the shale industry. The government also remains committed to ensuring communities have their say on fracking applications and this is why there is no change to the process for environmental permits for fracking.
The Independent’s article ‘Fast-track fracking without public consent’ and a follow up commentary piece in The Telegraph ‘Double standards will fuel suspicion on fracking’ implies that fracking applications would receive less environmental scrutiny from the public. This is simply untrue. The Government has said from the start that we will consult with local communities about the impact of fracking and we will continue to work closely with the Environment Agency (EA) and other regulators to ensure all operators abide by the strict rules that govern the industry.
The process for operators to apply for a fracking permit has not changed. Any operator wanting to undertake fracking needs to apply for an environmental permit, conduct an environmental impact assessment and apply for planning permission. This is open to full public consultation.
The current consultation by the EA, however, focuses on two techniques used for testing conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells. The consultation looks to define the standard rule permits for operators applying to drill and carry out preliminary testing of oil and gas wells and not on the permits for fracking. The Government supports the work by the EA to ensure the thorough and effective environmental regulation of oil and gas extraction.
As we have said before, we have made a commitment to ensure local people have a say about fracking in their community. The Government continues to support the development of the shale industry in a safe and sustainable way.