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Fracking Applications

Fracking applicationsThis really is a hot topic. No sooner have we done one fracking article than there's enough material for a new one!

For a few weeks now allegations have been circulating in Fylde about people and their businesses who might have received payments from Cuadrilla (for things like compensation for use of their land during seismic testing and so on), and who also hold public office, but have not declared such payments as an interest when discussing matters related to fracking.

At present we regard the allegations as gossip, but if they become formal, the matter is likely to come to a head, and we may be able to report further.

Also, the long awaited planning application for Westby / Little Plumpton has now been submitted to, and verified by, Lancashire County Council, so anyone who wants to can see the documentation on the LCC Website   (Just put the application number into the first search box)

Application Number: LCC/2014/0096
Construction and operation of a site for drilling up to four exploration wells, hydraulic fracturing of the wells, testing for hydrocarbons, abandonment of the wells and restoration, including provision of an access road and access onto the highway, security fencing, lighting and other uses ancillary to the exploration activities, including the construction of a pipeline and a connection to the gas grid network and associated infrastructure to land to the north of Preston New Road, Little Plumpton

Application Number: LCC/2014/0097
Application for monitoring works in a 4 km radius of the proposed Preston New Road exploration site comprising: the construction, operation and restoration of two seismic monitoring arrays comprising of 80 buried seismic monitoring stations and 10 surface seismic monitoring stations.

The seismic monitoring stations will comprise underground installation of seismicity sensors; enclosed equipment and fenced enclosures. The surface array will also comprise monitoring cabinets.

The application is also for the drilling of three boreholes, each installed with 2 monitoring wells, to monitor groundwater and ground gas, including fencing at the perimeter of the Preston New Road exploration site.

At present only the Little Plumpton site seems to be showing up, but that's probably because LCC are still validating the Roseacre one, and they won't make it available until they have.

Cuadrilla say they have submitted both applications.

We're not going to do a detailed look at these applications at the present time, there are far better experts than us who are scrutinising then, and we understand that the various groups will be setting up stalls in town centres to explain to people why and how to object to the applications.

The scale of protest is undoubtedly growing, with a meeting having been held at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester on a regional scale. We also saw there is now an impressive (and growing) list of local groups concerned with fracking including:

So there's likely to be a group in your town centre shortly.

There has also been growth in a group with an opposing philosophy - the North West Energy Task Force - which now claims over 400 members and says it is 'charged with understanding how the responsible extraction of natural gas from Lancashire’s shale can be used to create jobs, generate economic growth and boost local revenues'

Their website also says 'We are supported by Centrica Energy and Cuadrilla Resources, however our activities and views are independent of our financial supporters.'

Two notable locals (Chairman of 'Stay Blackpool' and Chairman of the 'Blackpool Business Leaders Group') are reported in the Gazette as having agreed to 'join the panel' [of the North West Energy Task Force] to help shape the organisation's policies.

The lady from 'Stay Blackpool' told the Gazette there was a fund of £2m to which small businesses could apply to for help, if they thought they had a product that would help the fracking industry, and she thought it [fracking] would complement the [tourism] industry rather than damage it.

The fund comprises 75% public money (for which, you can read 'tax we have paid') and is provided by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Technology Strategy Board. Awards will be focused at schemes aimed at reducing the environmental impact of fracking.

Business minister Michael Fallon had told the conference: "Shale gas has the potential to kickstart a whole new industry, building on the world leading expertise the UK already has in the energy sector. There will be significant opportunities across the steel, manufacturing and engineering industries as shale develops."

We think this funding amounts to another step by Mr Cameron to change legislation or arrangements specifically to smooth the path for shale gas extraction, so it earns a place in the 'Dave'll Fix It' panel that is now reproduced at the end of each of our shale gas articles.

But perhaps the lady from 'Stay Blackpool' might be right.

If there is a boom, and it follows the US model, there will be large numbers of single men looking to snap up the excess of £10 a night bedrooms that currently exists in Blackpool, (and perhaps, to provide a large new influx of customers for establishments in the Central Drive and Cookson Street business districts), (See our June 14: Fracking Update), but whether that's the sort of 'complementary' medicine she has in mind for tourism, and whether that would be the right sort of image to feature in the Blackpool Holiday Guide to help encourage people to stay in Blackpool, we don't know.

To be honest, we wouldn't be surprised to find her enthusiasm gets mired in some difficulty if the predictions about industrialisation of the countryside come true.

Certainly Cuadrilla's latest application will produce two 'flare stacks' that will light up the night sky for up to two years, and Cuadrilla recognise that the 'temporary sky glow' will be a 'likely significant effect' of the drilling application.

And that's only for starters.

Some are claiming there will be 800 or more wells.

So Blackpool Illuminations might be having some competition.

We can see a future strapline for the holiday guide covering 'Lytham St Annes and the Fylde Countryside' that could run something like 'Blackpool Illuminations are so yesterday. Come to Fylde for Flares with Flair'

OK! That's enough of the nonsense!

For the moment we're leaving the detail of the planning application to others.

This is partly because there is another, and to us, a much more sinister, application being considered at the present time.

Whilst everyone is pre-occupied with the LCC planning applications, the Environment Agency has quietly published a notice of details of an application by Cuadrilla Bowland Ltd for an Environmental Permit under the 'Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010'

If anyone wants to carry out a 'waste treatment activity' on a site (either fracking or lots of other types of site) in England, you need to get a Permit from the Environment Agency.

Some activities, such as 'temporary storage of waste' are usually exempt from needing a permit - but most other stuff does need one.

We were a bit surprised to see the notice had quoted the 2010 regulations - because it was our understanding that these previous (2010) regulations have now been replaced by the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2013 which consolidate recent amendments including some new exemptions which supersede the paragraph 'Exemptions from 6 April 2010'.

But whichever applies, there are two main types of permits – 'standard rules' and 'bespoke'.

Most waste activities that require a permit are likely to fall under the Standard Permit requirement. This would be things like waste transfer stations, sorting facilities, composting sites and pet crematoria.

A bespoke one is what it says on the tin, it's designed specifically for a site or a process - and Cuadrilla's is a bespoke one.

The first stage of a Permit application is to see if the application has been properly made (technically whether it has been 'Duly Made'). We're told that in theory, this should be a half day assessment of whether the application is proper and complete. But it can take up to six weeks.

Essentially, the way the permit system works is that the regulations require sites with Environmental Permits to demonstrate that their organisation has the competence to run the site.

And historically there were two ways of satisfying this requirement.

The traditional way is for a site to have a suitably trained person, (either someone with a Certificate of Technical Competence) or someone who is 'Deemed Competent' on the site. This choice between the two seemed to depend on the level of the permit.

'Competence' used to last for life once a person had passed the course or been approved as Deemed Competent, but from 1 March 2009, all CoTC and DC holders have been required to pass a test of 'Continuing Competence' every two years.

We understand that a new system has now been introduced, and it's where a business - rather than an individual - has put in place the necessary procedures on the back of ISO 9001 to be able to demonstrate that it has suitably competent people. This means that a site is not just dependent on one person, but is able to satisfy the competence requirements through its processes.

This system is called the Competence Management Scheme and was devised by the Energy and Utility Skills Council with the Environmental Services Association.

The whole of the Environmental Permitting (EP) regime seems to be designed to protect the environment while at the same time, simplifying the regulatory system and minimising the administrative burden on the regulators and the operators of the facilities.

The regulations transpose the provisions of 18 European Directives regulating emissions to air, water and soil; waste management and management of specific substances.

So, we can see that the legislation is specifically DESIGNED to reduce both the regulatory input and the administrative burden on the operators.

And from what we understand, despite the EA's latter-day promises to assuage public anxiety by undertaking some on-site inspection, the permits are normally 'enforced' - not by sending out technical inspectors for unannounced visits - but by sending out enforcement, suspension or revocation notices or, ultimately, criminal prosecution - when an operator tells the regulator he has done something wrong.

But this idea relies on the operator providing accurate and honest reports, (knowing that if they report a failure they will receive a notice).

The temptation not to do that must be very strong.

This, in essence, is what many folk get so upset about.

The body that is supposed to be the regulator and policeman appears to be able to discharge its policing responsibility by saying in effect, "Well, we're satisfied you have the right procedures in place and you have experienced and competent people on your team, so just carry on. Send us the forms every week to say everything is OK, and let us know if you have a problem you can't sort out"

It's a bit like a traffic policeman saying well, you passed your driving test a few years ago, and you're now an experienced and competent driver so I don't need to interfere, just carry on.

We all know life doesn't work like that.

We still need traffic policemen who randomly and regularly patrol the roads to pick up the human failings when procedure and competence is disregarded to take an urgent mobile call, or when someone has had too much alcohol with their lunch or whatever.

And if you need further proof of how individuals will by-pass proper procedure, disregard policy and dismiss common sense, just have a read of 'Not Fit For Purpose' and you'll see EXACTLY what we mean.

If that's the Environment Agency's interpretation of 'Gold Standard' regulation we simply can't agree that it is even satisfactory - let alone fit for purpose.

To further illustrate this, we only need look for a moment at the EA's involvement with the management, treatment and recording of the waste from drilling operations (before the fracking takes place) that we have previously reported...

The Environment Agency say they have not tested any of the drilling muds so far, and they holds no information on the testing of such muds. They argue is the duty of the producer to correctly describe their waste.

They say Cuadrilla are the producers and so Cuadrilla may hold test information, but the EA don't.

They say testing of the waste to see it is 'as described' *can* be carried out at waste disposal sites (to confirm the waste *they* are accepting is correctly described and compliant with their Environmental Permit), but this is not mandatory. And they say the waste site receiving the waste would hold that information about testing but the EA doesn't.

The EA says it does not hold any information in relation to the testing of drilling wastes (including muds, cuttings and cores) from the Cuadrilla sites within the North West, and that the disclosure of the destination of drilling wastes [eg to a waste treatment facility] would be prejudicial to Cuadrilla.

They argue this would be particularly damaging to Cuadrilla’s ability to competitively engage in negotiations involving relatively small contractors.

Quite apart from any other role the EA has, we don't regard the description of their involvement as the policing authority for waste that we have set out above to be anything like sound, let alone robust, and it's certainly not a 'Gold Standard'

So we're not that impressed with what the EA thinks it should be doing.

However, the proof of that (Gold Standard) pudding might be in the eventual Permit (assuming one is issued).

If anyone wants to see what an Environmental Permit looks like when it's completed, readers can follow this link to one we found for Cuadrilla's oil drilling scheme in Balcolme

So what permits has Cuadrilla applied for?

Well, there are three of them.

 1. Application Number: EPR/AB3101MW/A001 
Environmental permit for onshore oil and gas exploratory operations

Permit for the management of mining waste involving waste facilities, the flaring of gas in plant with a capacity of over 10 tonnes per day and a groundwater activity at Preston New Road Exploration Site, Preston New Road, Plumpton, Fylde, Lancashire, PR4 3PJ

 2. Application Number: EPR/KB3395DE/A001 
Environmental permit for a radioactive substances activity permit

Permit for Radioactive Substances Activity – Accumulate radioactive waste and Dispose of radioactive waste at Preston New Road Exploration Site, Preston New Road, Plumpton, Fylde, Lancashire, PR4 3PJ

 3. Application Number: EPR/BB3093RH/A001
Environmental permit for a groundwater activity

Permit for the discharge, from oil and gas exploratory operations, of pollutants that might lead to an indirect input of those pollutants to groundwater at Preston New Road Exploration Site, Preston New Road, Plumpton, Fylde, Lancashire, PR4 3PJ

NGR discharge point: A groundwater activity centred on SD3740832740

Residents and readers can see the (voluminous) documentation for these applications at: Kirkham Library, Ansdell Library, Lytham Library, St Annes Library, Lancashire County Council (County Hall, Preston) or Fylde Borough Council's Public Offices at 292 Clifton Drive South.

They can also be viewed online. You can follow this link to the list of documents on the Environment Agency's website.

The Environment Agency is also holding two 'Information Sessions' - the first of those was last Monday night (23 June) at Wesham. The next is on Thursday 3 July between 2:30 and 7:30pm at Elswick Village Hall.

From what we've seen, they don't actually say the 'Sessions' are a consultation on the Permit that Cuadrilla have applied for, but we suspect they will infer that later.

They do say (disarmingly) that the format of the meetings is for people to come along and chat to staff, and there won’t be any presentations and they are looking for the sessions to be as informal as possible.

One of our readers went to the Wesham event and came back thoroughly depressed. They formed the view that there was little 'joined up thinking' within EA (the chap dealing with radiation in flowback water on site and in tanks apparently isn't the same chap who deals with radiation in flared gas, or who deals with radiation as moved around by lorries etc).

Our reader's perception of the event was that it was all about calming the public "Definitely a place for explaining and converting the public" was one quote.

We're told it had PR folk and young men who seemed to trust that an operator will do what they are meant to do because they 'have a duty of care'.

We're going to try to get to the next one at Elswick ourselves.

In the meantime there are the documents of the Permit application to consider.

We counted about 66 documents, and most are very technical.

The exceptions to terse technicality are the 'About this application' document and the 'Non-Technical Summaries' for each of the three applications.

The EA also has an online facility for the public to make comments (for any one, or all of the three applications), but we understand you can send it snail mail, in written form as well if you prefer.

Alternatively, you can send freeform written comments by email to pscpublicresponse@environment-agency.gov.uk

Public comments on the application have to be sent to the Environment Agency before 08 July 2014.

The documentation with the application is huge takes a lot of reading.

Again, we're not going to have time to go through it all ourselves, but we're privileged to have technical experts amongst our readers, and we've had access to some of their objections already.

Their principal charge is that the application for waste accumulation and disposal of radioactive materials is defective and should be refused as it stands.

One main problem is that the application doesn't take any account of the possibility of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (often shortened - delightfully - to NORM - as though there was some Wisdom in this acronym that actually means radiation) coming back to the surface as cores, drill cuttings or returned drilling muds.

Whilst radiation may be 'expected' in such materials, the levels have not been monitored by the Environment Agency are thus not known, and there is no mention in Cuadrilla's application about monitoring them.

The EA are believed to think that such materials don't contain sufficient NORM to merit consideration, but this is simply an opinion. There is no factual assessment based on detailed knowledge of shale in the UK.

But in the Marcellus shale gas operations in the US, well drillings *can* bring rock cuttings with NORM up to the surface.

So if there is to be exploration for shale gas here, then the early stages of the process must be monitored scrupulously for evidence to support any suggestion that landfill dumping is acceptable.

This is important because it is currently possible to dump radioactive waste in landfill sites (where there is no monitoring by the EA, oil and gas industry operators, nor receiving by the sites), and our readers believe this issue must be tackled now to safeguard the public, or at the least to provide scientific evidence of the risk of accumulated shale drilling waste.

It's thought that the drilling of the first exploratory wells offers an opportunity to collect a comprehensive set of data on shale gas extraction and related activities. So it's crucial that monitoring of processes, and that includes pre-drilling, during drilling and post-drilling monitoring is started now, if the data is to be of value for future consideration.

We also understand that Cuadrilla's plans suggest there will be two sites for disposal of fracking waste.

But there is no indication of where drilling wastes will be taken and dumped.

We regard this as being unacceptable.

If waste is dumped to local landfill sites, (as has happened with Cuadrilla's earlier drilling wastes), the public has a right to know whether the landfill sites are suitable for such waste accumulation and what safeguards and monitoring are in place at that/those site(s).

Failing to disclose waste disposal sites (especially if they are local) also prevents proper consideration of traffic flow rates and other safety implications when the public make comment on the application.

To date, the EA has refused do disclose the whereabouts of the waste disposal sites for drilling in Lancashire.

As far as we understand it, they are also are refusing to divulge the destination of any such drilling wastes anywhere in the UK.

They argue that they may refuse to provide this information because correspondence between third parties and the Environment Agency might adversely affect the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information.

They also refuse to accept that the waste is an "emission" as defined under EU regs which (would override any commercial confidentiality).

They argue that that drilling wastes are 'contained' and therefore are not 'emissions'.

This is nonsense. It ignores the potential leaks while tankers are being filled, leaks during transport, and leaks during delivery at waste disposal site, or during any processing.

All these have potential to release waste to the environment.

But more clearly - the dumping of waste (eg to landfill), is clearly a 'release' of the waste to the environment.

If waste is dumped to landfill (as we know it is) then the EA is being duplicitous in stating that the waste is "contained" at management sites.

We think their view on this matter needs to change.

Another main concern is that the application is defective in stating unconditionally that fracking wastes, (including NORM) will stay within the "target formation", (Broadly the rocks it is in now). But there is absolutely no guarantee of this.

A study by Durham University (Prof Richard Davies) said that fractures have been observed in the US as travelling up to 600 metres from the well. Longer distances have been reported from elsewhere.

Prof Davies considered that a safe distance between fracking well and groundwater aquifer should be double the 600m distance, or 1.2km.

It's also possible that fracking waste fluids (including NORM) could migrate from the target formation through naturally occurring fractures and faults.

The application does admit that it will be possible for fracking fluids to migrate outside the target formation. However it considers the risk of polluting an aquifer as only being small. But it does not deny the reality that fluids may migrate into other formations.

Cuadrilla themselves have been reported as saying that at Preese Hall they were unclear as to where the lost fracking fluids had 'moved on' to.

One of our readers knows of correspondence from a senior EA official who said "Under the MWD we also have to be satisfied that waste will not pose an environmental risk. As part of the permit determinations, a company would have to satisfy us that the flow back fluids left in the ground will remain in the target formation and not migrate to other strata. We would expect a company to monitor that, providing us information that confirmed this was the case."

If this is true, then the current application MUST be rejected, under the Mining Waste Directive, as it has no provisions for monitoring the migration of fluids outside the target formation - and by its own admission that could happen.

Another concern is that there will be four horizontal wells between 2000m and 3000m below ground.

The Millstone Grit - acknowledged in part of the application as a groundwater unit, (although in another section described as only a minor aquifer in parts of Lancashire) - is said to extend between around 1300m and 1550m below ground.

So the uppermost of the horizontal wells could be within the safety boundary assessed as being required by Professor Davies.

There is no guarantee that long fractures will not allow migration from the fracked horizontals.

This is clearly NOT a precautionary approach as stated in the application. It is one with potential risk which the supporting documentation admits.

The problem here is that it is difficult to assess just how hazardous this might be.

There is no fracking plan accompanying the permit applications. It is said that one will be supplied to DECC, but it is clear from the advance description that this will be designed primarily to allay any fears of seismic consequences, and not potential risks of migration of fracking fluids).

The application recognises that there is a risk of migration into the Millstone Grit, but it concludes - without detailed analysis - that there would be no environmental impact.

Our expert reader argues that it would be entirely inappropriate for the Environment Agency to grant a waste permit without the required information in order to assess risk of migration outside the target shales, and without the EA having quantified that risk.

The lack of data also interferes with proper public consultation.

This again leads to the view that the application must be rejected as inadequate as it stands.

Finally for the moment, we come to the issue of flaring.

This will be one of the most visible signs of fracking in the countryside, with pipes tens of metres high burning flames at the top.

Fracking companies prefer to burn the methane (which leaks from gas and oil fracking sites), because during the exploration stage it is cheaper than capturing it and using it for fuel, and burning it is less dangerous than allowing it to leak into the air freely.

Cuadrilla told the Guardian: "It is not possible to capture the gas during the exploration phase of the project. This can only be done during the production phase when pipeline and associated facilities are in place to use the gas." They also said that during the production phase, its shale gas wells would be capped, preventing methane from reaching the surface. Captured gas would be fed into the gas network.

We might take issue with the 'It's not possible' and the 'it can only be done' bits of that comment, as does one of our readers who says "The application states that waste natural gas is flared on site using Best Available Techniques. HOWEVER, flaring is NOT a Best Available Technique."

He goes on to say that Cuadrilla's application doesn't give a reason why the Best Available Technique is not being employed.

What was that about Gold Standard Regulation?

However this proposal might have to change, because the application includes the statement that it will have: "The incineration (flaring) of hazardous waste (natural gas) above 10 tonnes per day."

And we believe this exceeds the limit for a Mining Waste Operation, so it comes under the Industrial Emissions Directive, and the Environment Agency guidance for such installations says that the 'Best Available Technique' should be used wherever possible for such situations.

The best option would, of course, be to capture waste methane (from wells, compressors and processing operations) - for use.

The application has failed to show that this is not possible.

Neither has it considered it and rejected it as economically non-viable.

The Environment Agency itself has said (Mark Ellis-Jones March 2014) "Best option is use of gas to generate energy or feed directly into the gas grid."

So we wouldn't be surprised to see a change here. We believe one is needed.

We're also advised that there are some domestic properties within a distance that would be unacceptable in the US in some states and areas that have implemented 'Setback Regulation'.

These properties in Fylde will suffer noise and light pollution, and are at risk from other effects of flaring including release of chemical pollutants that are possibly injurious to health.

Once again we have a situation where the Government should have specified safe separation distances between wellpads and properties, but they have not done so, and we have no data on which to make a sensible risk assessment of the danger to public health.

Our (able) reader concludes that the applicant should be invited to reconsider Best Available Technology to deal with the extensive methane produced during exploration, and to submit a new application incorporating Best Available Technology, with the current application refused on these grounds.

Whilst on the subject of health, we also heard this week that Mike Hill (who has strongly criticised the fracking industry and government in the UK for failing to properly assess the health implications of fracking in dense populations) has had his opinions published in the world's leading medical journal - The Lancet.

He said "After a very thorough review of my correspondence on shale gas regulation in the UK and health implications of fracking, The Lancet will publish online this Friday and then it goes into the journal shortly after.

Can I take this opportunity to thank The Lancet for their scrutiny of this piece and rigorous approach to ensure that the details were as accurate as possible. I am, of course, delighted and humbled that such a journal, with such a reputation throughout the world, has chosen to publish my words."

He added "We are not ready to resume fracking in the UK. Our regulatory regime is inadequate, we have not implemented the necessary recommendations and the health impacts which are now becoming known through serious research in the USA are being ignored by the UK Gov. I hope that the letter assists the government, health professionals and public in knowing just how serious the situation is and the risks we are presently facing."

We understand that health studies emerging from the US are now opening up the debate on the health implications of fracking with some serious results (abnormality in new borns, low birth weights, chronic health conditions).

So this matter is both timely and relevant.

When you see how much some folk have voluntarily put into researching and evaluating evidence on this topic, you realise that we all need to be very grateful to folk like those we have noted above.

They have knowledge and have put themselves out, giving freely of their time for the good of us all.

But the great worry we (and they) have, is that the Government's 'path-clearing' decisions to support shale gas development in the UK, (as we report in the panel at the end of this article) mean that since November 2013, the HSE is now automatically a party to decisions the Environment Agency takes in relation to Environmental Permitting Regulations for 'unconventional oil and gas'

It also means that, since July 2013, Lancashire County Council, will have to assume that whatever the Environment Agency decide in terms of health and safety will be right, and that the processes they set out in the Permit will operate effectively.

That 'guidance' cuts the legs from under LCC, and means they will ONLY be able to determine the planning application on whether the development is an acceptable use of the land.

They are not allowed not take into account matters like Health and Safety, control measures or emissions and so on.

What this does, is emasculate County Councillors who will have to determine the application - it removes many of the reasons they might want to use to justify a refusal.

We're pretty sure the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive will be listening more to government than it is to local people in this matter.

We'd be amazed if the EA don't approve the permit for Cuadrilla - irrespective of however valid the arguments against it might be.

The only issue will be what conditions the Environment Agency might attach to the permission.

One reader was (allegedly) told that the Environment Agency had undertaken an Environmental Risk Assessment before Cuadrilla produced their documents, and that had already decided the process was safe if it was properly carried out.

So whilst we salute the people who are playing fair and using properly constructed argument, logic and science to argue their corner, we believe the Government will never play fair on this matter. The dice in this game are loaded in favour of the Government.

When we heard Jessica Ernst say that when she highlighted the problems fracking had caused for her and her property, the Canadian Government simply changed the laws to try to circumvent her complaint from proceeding. We were truly shocked.

We were surprised that an advanced country like Canada had done such a thing.

But even if they had, we thought, it couldn't happen here.

Shows how wrong you can be.

 ~~~~~~~~ DAVE'LL FIX IT ~~~~~~~~

In his enthusiasm to support fracking, David Cameron took the first small steps on a slippery slope. He began with saying how important he thinks fracking is, but he's now changing UK law to make it easier for frackers to operate. We expect to record and publish each of his steps as we publish future fracking articles.
June 2014   NEW 
Government sets up a £2m fund to support businesses with products that are aimed at reducing the environmental impact of fracking.
April 2014
Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil announce they will no longer be available to provide representatives to attend public meetings, and will only be attending meetings with official bodies such as Local Councils.
13 January 2014    NEW 
Changes made to notification arrangements for planning applications for onshore oil and gas development.The requirement to inform and consult the owners of land beyond the above ground area (i.e. the owners of land where underground operations may take place), was removed by the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure and Section 62A Applications) (England) (Amendment No. 2) Order 2013 (SI 2013/3194).So you won't now be notified by planners if someone drills under your land.
13 January 2014    NEW 
Changes made to notification arrangements for planning applications for onshore oil and gas development.The requirement to inform and consult the owners of land beyond the above ground area (i.e. the owners of land where underground operations may take place), was removed by the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure and Section 62A Applications) (England) (Amendment No. 2) Order 2013 (SI 2013/3194).So you won't now be notified by planners if someone drills under your land.
November 2013
The Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive issue a joint statement on how they will work together to regulate 'unconventional oil and gas developments' In particular, the statement addresses joint working under the Environmental Permitting Regulations issued by the EA which, in future, the HSE will also be party to.
July 2013
The Government's 'Planning practice guidance for onshore oil and gas' sets many parameters and constraints on what the planning authority (LCC in our case) may (or more particularly may not) take into account when considering planning applications. Para 29 says "In doing so the focus of the planning system should be on whether the development itself is an acceptable use of the land, and the impacts of those uses, rather than any control processes, health and safety issues or emissions themselves where these are subject to approval under other regimes. Minerals planning authorities should assume that these non-planning regimes will operate effectively."
December 2012
In oral evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Committee considering the Impact of Shale Gas on Energy Markets on 11 December 2012,  Sir Robert Smith asked: "I suppose that is the problem, that it all interconnects, but on the specifics of shale gas what do you think the role of this body of office for unconventional gas and oil will be? Will it be a poacher or a gamekeeper?" Professor Anderson replied : "Disturbingly it is both, and that is the concern. It is the fox looking after the chickens. It does seem an odd thing to set up something that will promote and regulate."  In its dash for shale, Government produced a cheerleader, not a proper independent regulator.
March 2012
Government's new National Planning Policy Framework, paragraph 66 of which says "Mineral extraction is essential to local and national economies. As stated in paragraph 144 of the National Planning Policy Framework, minerals planning authorities should give great weight to the benefits of minerals extraction, including to the economy, when determining planning applications."

Dated:  25 June 2014


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