Local authorities would be stripped of powers to block drilling for shale gas in the countryside under Conservative plans to copy the United States and make Britain less reliant on imported energy. Shale companies could undertake “non-fracking drilling” under permitted development rights, the party’s manifesto said. They would not need to make a formal planning application and could start drilling more quickly. Igas, a leading shale gas explorer, had to wait more than a year to get planning permission from Nottinghamshire county council to drill two exploratory wells, neither involving fracking. Ineos is preparing to submit several planning applications for shale drilling across the East Midlands. Councils could also lose the right to determine fracking applications, which may be treated as nation ally significant infrastructure projects and decided centrally. The manifesto said that “when necessary, major shale planning decisions will be made the responsibility of the national planning regime”. The government has already overruled Lancashire county council and given Cuadrilla permission to drill and frack wells near Blackpool. The manifesto said that shale energy “could play a crucial role in rebalancing our economy. We will therefore develop the shale industry in Britain.” The party has sought to reassure communities by promising a “shale environmental regulator”, which would assume functions now split between the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Times 19th May 2017 read more »