Shale gas planning fails: Is the UK going cold on fracking? Amid recent planning rejections for gas testing in England and questions over fracking firms’ financial stability, green campaigners believe the tide is turning in their favour 2018 was supposed to be the long-awaited breakthrough year for the UK’s still fledgling shale oil and gas industry. After all, last year had not been kind to the sector. Scotland moved to ban onshore oil and gas exploration altogether, and commercial-scale hydraulic fracturing didn’t appear much closer to reality in England. Meanwhile, UK government public opinion trackers showed support for fracking hit its lowest ebb, nosediving to just 14 per cent, at the same time as opposition continued to grow. January has quickly become a month to forget for shale gas advocates, indicating that, just a few weeks in, 2018 might not turn out to be quite so promising after all. Firstly an application from energy firm INEOS to drill a controversial 1.7 mile deep well near Harthill to examine rock samples – which campaigners against the development claimed could lead to fracking – was rejected by Rotherham council last week due to concerns over highway safety and “insufficient ecological details submitted”. On the same day, planners in Cheshire rejected an application from IGas to carry out tests for gas in Ellesmere Port in the face of significant local opposition. Crucially, the ruling specifically cited climate change as one of the main concerns over the proposed development. Then, Cuadrilla’s plans for exploratory shale gas works near Roseacre Wood went the same way 24 hours’ later, when Lancashire council unanimously voted to reject the firm’s proposals. It was a fourth piece of fracking news emerging last week which may deal the most significant blow to the wider industry going forward. In a statement to Parliament, Business Secretary Greg Clark gave an update on the progress of Third Energy UK Gas Ltd’s application to hydraulically fracture its site in Kirkby Misperton, North Yorkshire – a decision which had been referred to him following regulatory changes late last year. Crucially Clark also announced that, while he was satisfied Third Energy UK has met all technical requirements for its proposals, he would be stalling the application in order to investigate the company’s finances.
Business Green 30th Jan 2018 read more »