A new Infrastructure Bill – which will be included in the Queen’s Speech – will enable energy companies to run gas pipelines under private land without the risk of being accused of trespassing.
The new law will clarify that running pipelines under private land does not constitute trespass – but it will also allow the affected landowners to apply for compensation.
The move is designed to make Britain more attractive to oil and gas companies, as it was feared that existing trespass laws could be used by anti-fracking lobbies to hinder shale gas exploration.
The UK government is eager to make British shale gas exploration attractive to investors – especially while Britain is competing for investment with Eastern European countries like Poland and Lithuania. The Prime Minister’s spokesman said that the government is working to make test drilling easier and not to overburden the companies with “red tape and regulation”.
The new bill will not strip the landowners of all their rights to the ground below their property. According to the UK Supreme Court ruling of 2010 diagonal drilling down to 2,800ft from an adjacent plot of land will still require the permission of the landowner.
A conference on the potential economic benefits of shale gas exploration will be held in Blackpool on Thursday, 24 April.
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