The 14 Words

Monday, 27 January 2014

Fracking Hell, now the want to Frack your homes up

Fracking could be allowed under homes without owners’ permission

Fracking will be allowed to take place under homes without the owners’ permission, under plans being considered by the Government.

Ministers have admitted that they are looking at overhauling trespass laws to make it easier for energy companies to explore for shale gas, amid concern that efforts could otherwise be stymied by lengthy and costly court proceedings.

The plans, expected to be published for consultation in coming months, are likely to be the most controversial yet in the Prime Minister’s attempts to encourage fracking.

Shale gas exploration typically involves drilling down vertically and out horizontally, often for more than a mile. Under current law, companies need permission from all the landowners beneath whose land they drill. Case law shows they would otherwise be committing trespass. If a landowner refused permission, the company would have to take them to court, which would decide whether to award drilling rights and how much compensation should be paid.

While compensation is likely to be a nominal amount – probably less than £100 – companies fear the court proceedings could be costly and drawn out by years of appeals, and have been lobbying for the law to be changed.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has now confirmed that it is reviewing whether the existing process is “fit for purpose”.

A Whitehall source said: 
“All options are on the table. It would be difficult to implement a regime that removed any kind of compensation. You could change the rules so you have a de facto right, but then you have to pay. The compensation could be less than £100.”
One option would be the introduction of a kind of compulsory purchase regime, similar to that used by companies needing to lay pipelines underground. Fracking involves pumping water, sand and chemicals down a well at high pressure to fracture the rocks and extract gas trapped within them, and is fiercely opposed by environmental groups.

Greenpeace has sought to use the existing law to block fracking by encouraging thousands of landowners in shale-rich areas to declare that they do not give consent for drilling. Legal experts said landowners could attempt to take out injunctions, presenting a further barrier for companies.

If trespass law were changed, companies would still need to negotiate access rights for the surface drilling site as well as planning permission from the local council and other permissions from government and environmental regulators.

A spokesman for the DECC said: 
“Shale gas and oil operations that involve fracking in wells drilled over a mile down are highly unlikely to have any discernible impacts closer to the surface.
“Like any other industrial activity, oil and gas operations require access permission from landowners. But there is an existing legal route by which operators can apply for access where this can’t be negotiated. We’re currently considering whether this existing route is fit for purpose. Similar access issues apply to deep geothermal energy projects.”

BTW. Fracking will not mean cheaper Gas bills, remember when they told us that 'low energy' light bulbs would mean lower Electric Bills? They actually increased the Energy companies profits and you saw your bills rise expotentially. This is the same scam. J.H.

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