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Environment Environment

Set up a new Shale Environmental Regulator

Last updated: 08:48am 7 February 2019

We will set up a new Shale Environmental Regulator, which will assume the relevant functions of the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.23

Our verdict

The manifesto calls the discovery and extraction of gas from shale rock in the United states “a revolution”, and outlines a series of measures to mimic that perceived success. One of the main reasons for establishing a single regulatory body for the shale industry is to streamline the planning permission process.

Under this government, in May 2018, a ministerial statement announced a new package of measures which included setting up a Shale Environmental Regulator and a new planning brokerage service.

In October 2018, a new “virtual group” was launched, the Shale Environmental Regulatory Group (SERG), and a Commissioner for Shale Gas was appointed. The remit of the SERG is to:

“act as a single-entry point for information related to the environmental regulation of the shale gas industry and bring regulators together to act as one coherent single face”.

This policy, however, specifically promises a new regulator “which will assume the relevant functions” of the three existing regulatory bodies. The government has been clear that this is not the role of the new SERG.

“Each regulator will continue to retain its own independent regulatory functions, duties and enforcement powers as set out in law.”

A new body has been established but it has not assumed “the relevant functions” of existing regulators, as promised in the manifesto, so we’re marking this one as ‘broken’. We’ll keep tracking to see if anything changes. Follow this policy to stay up to date.

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