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Trespass Law to Allow Fracking Access

no trespassingIn a decision that will send a shudder around house and land-owners across the country, the government has finally confirmed that it intends to alter the existing trespass laws in order to enable ‘fracking’ companies to drill under their homes without permission.

After announcing their intention in the Queen’s speech earlier this month, the government committed to a 12-week consultation before the policy is enacted in legislation.

Unsurprisingly the proposal is being met with significant opposition, to date this has been focussed on the South of England however recent findings suggest that the volume of shale oil in those regions is far lower than previously expected and that it is the English midlands that provide the greatest scope for extraction.

According to fracking business Union Jack Oil in an area of Leicestershire of just 40 square miles there could be more shale oil than in the entire South East of England. With 5.4bn barrels predicted from the Leicestershire hot spot versus, according to the British Geological Survey, 4.4bn barrels in the entire South East.

The official wording under the Queen’s speech read:

“The [infrastructure] bill will enhance the UK’s energy independence and security by opening up access to shale and geothermal sites.”

However the documents underlying this announcement including the official briefing notes elaborate the position by saying:

“Subject to consultation, this bill would support the development of gas and oil from shale and geothermal energy by clarifying and streamlining the underground access regime. The government is currently running a full consultation on this policy and the legislation is entirely dependent on the outcome of that consultation.”

Ken Cronin, chief executive of the UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG), which represents the onshore oil and gas industry, justified the move in saying:

“The proposed legislation will bring the onshore oil and gas and geothermal industries into line with other activities, such as mining and utilities, and will have no noticeable effect on the lives of home and property owners.

“It serves no one if an anomaly in the legal system allows the few to block access to much needed natural resources.”

Even those previously agnostic to the activity of fracking are now being dragged into the debate and it is quite correct that given this proposal is effectively taking away people’s property rights it is entirely right that there should be a public consultation.

However given the underlying intent exposed in the official briefing notes it looks like fracking and its disturbance for individuals and local communities is here to stay.

That’s a heck of a price for an unproven commodity, extraction process and reserve levels. And the scandal is about to spread North, with all the diminished media interest that brings. No wonder the frackers are venturing further afield.

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