The NFU has responded to two government consultations on planning for shale gas, both closing on 25 October.
The first consultation is from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on permitted development for exploratory drilling. The NFU does not think there should be a permitted development right.
The second is from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on taking planning consent for production wells out of the hands of local mineral planning authorities. The NFU disagrees, subject to exceptions for very large proposals.
We have previously responded to a number of government consultations and Parliamentary calls for evidence and, over the past five years, the NFU has engaged with the shale gas industry and government on the potential opportunities and threats from fracking. However, there are few signs yet of what 'good' commercial practice in Britain will look like.
In its consultation responses, the NFU:
- Disagrees that shale gas exploration should be treated as permitted development, because the disturbance associated with exploration and seismic surveying is likely to be substantially above the threshold to minimise local impact and protect amenity;
- Disagrees with the government proposals to take shale gas production out of the hands of local planning decision making. We accept that there may be possible exceptions in the case of very large or expansive development proposals, but we have seen no evidence so far that the shale gas industry intends to concentrate UK developments in this way.