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Government kicks off consultation on shale gas development

The government has launched a consultation on proposed planning reforms for exploratory shale gas development in England.

The two 14-week consultations are open until 25 October 2018, after which the government will analyse the comments and issue its response later in 2018.

The government seeks views on whether to designate exploratory drilling for shale gas resources as a new form of permitted development, and whether such development should be decided under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime.

The housing and energy secretaries issued a joint statement in May declaring that the development of shale gas is of “national importance” and that mineral plans should not place restrictions on its extraction

However, earlier this month (July) a group of MPs cautioned against government proposals to bring fracking applications under the remit of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) regime, instead concluding that mineral planning authorities are best placed to decide such applications.

Permitted development rights would need to abide with environmental and site protection laws and would not apply to exploratory drilling in sensitive areas such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Exploratory drilling for shale deposits are treated separately to full hydraulic shale gas extraction; both will remain subject to strict planning and environmental controls.

The government consultation document on shale gas and NSIPs can be viewed here on the UK Government website.

Further infomation on the permitted development consultation can be viewed here.

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