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Government to push ahead with controversial underground drilling access legislation

Government to push ahead with controversial underground drilling access legislation

The government will push ahead with controversial plans to allow oil exploration firms to drill under properties without the owners permission following consultation.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) wants to grant oil, gas and geothermal companies permission to drill under properties as long as the project is drilling at a minimum depth of 300 metres.

The government maintains that such a move is necessary because, up to now, drilling could be “significantly delayed by one single landowner”. The government says that shale gas is the “cleanest fossil fuel” and necessary in order to “bolster national energy security”.   

Business and energy minister, Matt Hancock said: “Exploring the natural energy resources beneath our feet, within a robust regulatory framework, is important for our national energy security and helps create jobs.

“These new rules will help Britain to explore the great potential of our national shale gas and geothermal resources, as we work towards a greener future – and open up thousands of new jobs in doing so.”

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The Department of Energy and Climate Change is pushing ahead with planned changes to underground drilling access laws despite admitting that the vast majority of respondents to its consultation opposed the plans
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The government received over 40,000 responses to its consultation, with the majoirty of respondents expressing opposition to the proposed change to underground access legislation. However, DECC claims that respondents did not “specifically address the questions to the consultation”. The department noted: “Whilst a wide range of arguments were raised and points covered, we did not identify any issues that persuaded us to change the basic form of the proposals.”

Government figures show that support for fracking is dropping in the UK with just 24% of Brits supporting the extraction of shale gas. The figure is in stark contrast to polling data published by UK Onshore Oil and Gas which claimed that 57% of Brits supported fracking. The survey was widely criticised for leading questions and misleading question structure.

The government will now put the primary legislation before Parliament where DECC adds that parliamentary scrutiny will “provide further opportunities for public engagement on the issues”.

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