Ministers to review fracking laws

Thurrock Gazette: Prime Minister David Cameron visited the IGas shale drilling plant oil depot in Lincolnshire. Prime Minister David Cameron visited the IGas shale drilling plant oil depot in Lincolnshire.

Ministers are reviewing laws to allow fracking to be carried out under homes without the permission of the owners, it has emerged.

Trespass laws are being examined to pave the way for energy companies t o explore for shale gas, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Operators need to ask homeowners before they drill under their land but can turn to the law to appeal if an agreement cannot be reached.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) is now reviewing whether the system, which can result in lengthy delays and costly court battles, is "fit for purpose". A consultation is expected to be published shortly.

A Whitehall source told the Daily Telegraph: "All options are on the table. It would be difficult to implement a regime that removed any kind of compensation. You could change the rules so you have a de facto right, but then you have to pay. The compensation could be less than £100."

The Government fi rmly backs action to exploit what are believed to be large reserves of shale gas in rocks beneath the UK, which it claims could help bring down energy bills and create thousands of jobs.

Environmental activists are bitterly opposed to the technique, which opponents say can increase climate change, cause small earthquakes and pollute water supplies.

Last year Prime Minister David Cameron said action was needed to make it easier for the controversial fracking technique to be used in the effort to cut the cost of energy and promised a "simplified system" for companies to get permission.

A Decc spokesman said: "Shale gas and oil operations that involve fracking in wells drilled over a mile down are highly unlikely to have any discernible impacts closer to the surface.

"Like any other industrial activity, oil and gas operations require access permission from landowners. But there is an existing legal route by which operators can apply for access where this can't be negotiated.

"We're currently considering whether this existing route is fit for purpose. Similar access issues apply to deep geothermal energy projects."

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