Exploration companies will be allowed to drill on private property as the UK government rolls out plans to develop the country’s infant fracking sector.
The ruling coalition is working out offers, which will be part of Queen’s Speech in May that will alter trespass laws to facilitate easier exploration of shale gas.
“We’re looking at primary legislation. We want to streamline the rules and get this thing off the ground,” one senior government figure told the Financial Times.
It is not a done deal but a huge amount of work has been done,” said another figure.
The new rules are proposed to be part of the Infrastructure Bill in the Queen’s Speech. While a solid decision is yet to be made on the issue, both energy secretary Ed Davey and business minister Michael Fallon are said to be involved.
The move comes follows a warning from exploration firms that environmentalists may use the current trespass laws to “create a legal blockade” to fracking.
Presently, UK landowners possess no rights to the petroleum and natural gas under their property, though UK Supreme Court ruled that oil firms will be considered to have trespassed if they fail to obtain the owner’s consent before drilling on his land.
Five landowners in the West Sussex village of Fernhurst have written to Mr Davie and Celtique Energie denying the company permission to prospect for shale oil in their property. This is a setback to Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to make Britain self-sufficient on oil and gas imports.
Environmental activists fear that fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing will contaminate groundwater and trigger earthquakes. This oil and gas extraction technique involves pumping a mixture of water, fine sand and chemicals at high pressure into the shale rock to release trapped oil and gas.
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