Will the UK’s fracking industry take off in 2016?

The Government are currently locked in a battle with Lancashire County Council over Cuadrilla’s plans to start fracking in the area. Lancashire County Council say that the drilling will have too great of an impact on the landscape and will create too much noise.

The Government claim the shale gas industry could be worth billions of pounds with the north of England and Scotland holding around 1,400tn cubic feet of shale gas, the equivalent to supply the UK for 400 years at current usage. They also state that the new industry could create more than 60,000 jobs which will in turn boost the economy massively. With energy security one of the Conservative Governments priorities, it is believed that they will find ways around Lancashire County Councils objections.

The clearing of obstacles by the government has already begun, with three major changes coming to the legislation surrounding fracking over the past year:

Setting a deadline for decisions to be made

The Government felt that local councils were dragging their feet when it came to making a decision on fracking. A 16 weeks deadline was set which forces local councils to make a decision or the Government would make the decision for them, and there is no prize to guess what that decision would be.

Changes to property rights

New legislation gives fracking companies such as Cuadrilla the right to drill horizontally underground, which will allow them to reach shales gas under properties that may have previously stood in their way. They also now have permission to frack under national parks, a move that has been heavily criticised by environmental groups.

Planning appeals

The Government now has permission to intervene in planning permission matters that are deemed to be of national importance, and as already mentioned, the Conservative Government has placed energy security as a priority.

To sum up the three new pieces of legislation, local councils will now be rushed into making a decision or face the government making a decision for them, the fracking companies will be aloud to frack horizontally under properties, even if they appose fracking and finally any objections to planning permission will be reviewed by the government. This all plays directly into the fracking companies hands giving them a much easier time in 2016.