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Environment Environment

Change planning law for shale applications

Last updated: 09:34am 16 January 2019

We will legislate to change planning law for shale applications. Non-fracking drilling will be treated as permitted development, expert planning functions will be established to support local councils, and, when necessary, major shale planning decisions will be made the responsibility of the National Planning Regime.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.23

Our verdict

This policy promises to change the laws around shale gas extraction. Some specific changes were mentioned, so let’s go through those:

  • Firstly, by making non-fracking drilling a “permitted development”, the government is requiring shale gas extractors to secure planning permission for their operations.
  • Secondly, local councils are to receive help with the planning permission process for shale gas extractors.
  • Thirdly, in the case of “major” shale planning decisions, the government wants to transfer powers from local councils to the National Planning Regime.

This is a controversial topic, but we are only assessing whether the government has delivered on its promises.

So what has the government done since it came to power? In May 2018, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy proposed a package of measures for delivering on this pledge. His statement set out a “series of actions, including those committed to in the Government’s 2017 manifesto to support the development of shale gas extraction”.

Alongside the announcement of initiatives relating to planning, regulation and community benefits, the statement promised a consultation on planning permission for shale gas exploration development. That consultation closed in October 2018 and responses are being analysed at the time of writing.

In light of the new package of measures, particularly the consultation, we consider this policy ‘in progress’. We’ll move it to ‘done’ if legislation is passed regarding planning law for shale applications. We’ll be watching for the official government response to the consultation so follow this policy for updates.

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