Dash for gas II: Government seizes shale planning powers


gas-300x200Government will fast track shale planning applications. The move follows rejections by local authorities of Caudrilla’s applications in Lancashire. It ultimately gives government the power to decide whether or not fracking will go ahead. The new rules are effective immediately.

The department of energy and climate change and the department for communities and local government announced the plans today. In a joint statement, department heads Amber Rudd and Greg Clark said that shale was a national priority and the government would not countenance further delays.

“To ensure we get this industry up and running we can’t have a planning system that sees applications dragged out for months, or even years on end,” said Rudd.

“Communities will always be involved in planning applications but no one benefits from uncertainty caused by delays in planning decisions. By fast tracking any appropriate applications today’s changes will tackle potential hold ups in the system,” said Clark.

They stressed health and safety and the environment would be given due consideration when determining fracking applications, and stated that all applications would receive “due process and a fair hearing”.

The measures put in place to make sure shale gas cannot again be held up by local authorities taking what government considers too long to consider applications include:

  • The Communities Secretary actively considering calling in on a case by case basis shale planning applications and considering recovering appeals
  • Identifying councils that repeatedly fail to determine oil and gas applications within the 16 week statutory timeframe requirement (unless applicants agree to a longer period). Underperforming councils’ gas and oil planning applications could be determined by the Communities Secretary
  • Adding shale applications as a specific criterion for recovery of appeals, to ensure no application can ‘fall through the cracks’
  • Ensuring planning call ins and appeals involving shale applications are prioritised by the Planning Inspectorate
  • Taking forward work on revising permitted development rights for drilling boreholes for groundwater monitoring.

See the announcement here.

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