Fracking Trespass Law Goes Ahead Despite Opposition

The government is pushing ahead with plans to allow the process known as fracking to be undertaken below Britons’ homes without their permission.  The law has proven hugely controversial, with ministers today rejecting 40,000 objections to the changes.

The concerns stem largely from the environmental effects of fracking, and activist groups have staged numerous demonstrations against the revisions to the trespass law.  It is, for example, feared that fracking could release otherwise innocuous gasses and chemicals into the air and to the surface, damaging nearby green life.

Fracking, or Hydraulic Fracturing, is a process which entails drilling into the earth to the layer of shale that lies across swathes of Northern England.  The drilling then continues horizontally, pushing the shale gas to the surface through the new pathway by supplanting deposits with water, sand and chemicals injected at high pressure.

The government has argued that the ability for people to block shale gas development would lead to significant delays, and the legal process for companies forcing fracking plans would be too costly and time-consuming.

In total, 40,647 people responded to an independently commissioned consultation about the new laws, in which 99% objected.

A government response to the consultation said: “Having carefully considered the consultation responses, we believe that the proposed policy remains the right approach to underground access and that no issues have been identified that would mean that our overall policy approach is not the best available solution.”

Officials believe that fracking will prove environmentally friendly, and that fears of environmental damage are unwarranted and stem from examples of bad practice only.

“It is essential that we make the most of home-sourced energy and start exploring the natural energy supplies beneath our feet.  As the cleanest fossil fuel, shale gas provides a bridge to a much greener future,” said a statement from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

“By removing barriers to deep underground drilling access, we are speeding up oil and gas and deep geothermal energy exploration.”

Meanwhile, the Conservative Energy Minister, Matt Hancock, said: “These new rules will help Britain to explore the great potential of our national shale gas … and open up thousands of new jobs in doing so.”


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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.