UK government eases fracking rules despite huge public opposition

Downing Street, Westminster
Source: DollarPhotoClub

The UK government will press on with its new legislation allowing exploration companies to drill under private land without landowners’ permission – despite 99 per cent of people replying to the government consultation rejecting the proposed changes.

The government ignored 40,000 objections to controversial changes to trespass laws, choosing to push forward with the divisive law. The laws follows an earlier proposed change allowing companies to lie pipes under private land without breaking trespass regulations.

“Having carefully considered the consultation responses, we believe that the proposed policy remains the right approach to underground access and that no issues have been identified that would mean that our overall policy approach is not the best available solution” – the government sources said.

The new law will make it more difficult for local inhabitants to block shale sites by disallowing horizontal drilling under private land. The Government is concerned that allowing landowners to block the progress of shale exploration in the UK may make the country less competitive in comparison with other European shale destinations. If the new law is passed, companies will be allowed to drill on private land below 300m without the necessity of compensating or even notifying the owner of the land. The law will affect both shale and geothermal developers.

Business and Energy Minister Matt Hancock said the legislation would help accelerate the rollout of shale gas and geothermal energy. “These new rules will help Britain to explore the great potential of our national shale gas and geothermal resources, as we work towards a greener future – and open up thousands of new jobs in doing so,” he said in a statement.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change explained that a vast majority of votes were discounted because they were submitted via an online campaign led by anti-fracking groups.

“We’re not polling for people’s opinions on shale gas as a whole,” a DECC spokesperson told BusinessGreen. “We were looking for new arguments against the three points on these proposals.”

The government also said many responses had ignored the benefits that the new rules would bring to the UK’s nascent geothermal industry.

Understandably, the government’s decision left the environmental campaigners angry. Simon Clydesdale, from Greenpeace, said: “The roar of opposition to this arrogant policy is deafening, yet ministers are determined to blithely ignore what the overwhelming majority of the British public thinks and wants. There will be a hefty political price to pay for this massive sell-out to the narrow interests of the shale lobby.”

Despite the easing of the regulatory burdens, shale development companies will still have to obtain exploration and environmental permits.

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