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It has been quite a week for fracking news.
On 5 October the Nottinghamshire County Council’s planning committee deferred the planning application made by Island Gas Limited for permission to frack at a site in Misson Springs, Nottinghamshire. This followed a letter from Friends of the Earth, claiming that a restrictive covenant on the land frustrated the planning application. The application will now be considered on 15 November.
The following day Sajid Javid, the Government Communities Secretary, announced that Cuadrilla has been given permission to drill and frack horizontal wells at its site at Preston New Road, Lancashire site. This overruled the earlier decision of the local planning committee. The four wells Cuadrilla plans to drill at Preston New Road will be the first horizontal shale wells to be fracked in the UK, and for the first time, will allow fracking underneath residential homes.
A final decision on Cuadrilla’s appeal for permission on a second site, Roseacre Wood, has been delayed to allow Cuadrilla to provide more evidence about the traffic impact of the proposal. If the company can address concerns raised by the planning inspector, Mr Javid has said he is also minded to approve the application.
Responding to the decision, a representative of the Lancashire County Council said: "It is clear that the government supports the development of a shale gas industry, but I would ask them to do more to address the concerns of local communities and the councillors who represent them by supporting the best environmental controls.”
On 23 May 2016, North Yorkshire County Council’s planning committee voted by a margin of seven to four to allow Third Energy UK Gas Limited to frack at a site near the village of Kirby Misperton in Ryedale. Local resident group Frack Free Ryedale and Friends of the Earth have launched a legal challenge, applying to the High Court for a judicial review of that decision.
Fracking involves the high volume injection of a mix of fluids, chemicals and sand into shale rock deep below the Earth’s surface to fracture the rock and release oil and gas deposits trapped within. It is a controversial process with supporters claiming there are no substantial risks, and opponents being concerned about the risks posed to water supplies, seismic activity and pollution.
While fracking is permitted in England, there is a moratorium on fracking in Wales and Scotland, and the Scottish Parliament voted in June 2016 to support an outright ban.
Whether you are for or against, or you’re on the fracking fence, it’s hard to dispute that it has well and truly risen to the surface.
For further information please contact Craig Burman, Director, Environmental and Regulatory Team