We need MORE not LESS regulation
New government guidelines proposed suggest fracking companies will not have to let you know about their plans to drill under your property!
We learn in the consultation document that
The Government is minded to amend the notice requirements for applications for planning permission for under ground oil and gas operations. It would retain the requirement to serve notice on individual owners and tenants of land on the above ground area where works are required (who the applicant knows to be such a person and whose name and address is known to the applicant) but remove this requirement for owners of land beyond this area ie the owners of land where solely underground operations may take place.
You can comment, if you wish by email to email@example.com (well actually you can’t as any email sent to this address bounces back saying “Delivery to the following recipients failed. firstname.lastname@example.org”
I am writing to point out that your proposal to “amend the notice requirements for applications for planning permission for under ground oil and gas operation” by removing the notice requirement “for owners of land beyond this area ie the owners of land where solely underground operations may take place. ” is at odds with the law.
You will I trust be aware that any drilling under an individual’s property without consent constitutes trespass. I fail to see how that consent can be gained unless the applicant is made to make the interested party aware of the intention to drill. By removing this requirement you would effectively be abetting trespass.
Equally, it is essential for local communities know with reasonable accuracy where drilling takes place in order to monitor and measure impacts. Whilst having to be precise about their plans maybe slightly onerous for the drilling companies that is really no reason to propose the relaxation of necessary legislation / regulation.
This constant striving to relax the already inadequate regulatory regime is becoming ludicrous.
As one of the commentators on our Facebook page pointed out
This is a dreadful attempt to deprive landowners of their rights to know what is happening under their land. It is a charter for unscrupulous operators to fail to inform landowners whose agreement is necessary (and to be paid for) for underground access.
The suggestion for alternatives (advising landowners if works are above a certain depth) totally ignores land ownership law, where in theory landowners have rights below their ground to the centre of the earth! ‘cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos’.
Except for coal oil and gas ownership, of course, but the 201 Supreme Court judgement is relevant here.
And then went on to point out
One interesting point is that the document suggests it is removing an existing right. I thought otherwise from the below. But of course if notification is made WHEN an application is put in, that would not be inconsistent.
I am still awaiting a reply from WSCC on this issue. Also LCC but, unlike West Sussex, Lancashire officers seem to have an exceedingly cavalier attitude towards public enquiries.
Anyway here’s what DECC said to me on this issue by email 30th July-
“As you say, the legal position is simply that the landowners’ consent is required for any access to his land, whether above or below ground. This is a matter for private negotiation between the petroleum licensee and the landowner(s) concerned. There is no legal requirement for the landowner’s consent to be obtained before the planning application is made, but from a commercial point of view, it would make sense to do so, as they would weaken their negotiating position if they failed to do so.”