BBC News – Minister opposes change in fracking residential drilling rules

Minister opposes change in fracking residential drilling rules

The issue of fracking has prompted protests in parts of England

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Scotland’s energy minister will oppose moves to remove the right of householders to object to fracking companies drilling beneath their homes.

The UK government is consulting on plans which would make it easier for firms to drill under residential areas.

Companies would be given automatic access rights, but only for drilling at a depth of more than 1,000ft (300m).

Fergus Ewing told BBC Scotland any decision should be taken at Holyrood, rather than Westminster.

Fracking is the controversial process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is used to recover gas and oil from shale rock.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, would only occur at far greater depths of 5,000 ft (1.5km) or more.

Industry sources say the UK government proposals would bring oil and gas companies into line with the water, gas and electricity sectors.

In return, communities would receive a one-off payment of £20,000 for each horizontal well of more than 200m in length.

‘Cautious approach’

But Mr Ewing told BBC Scotland News: “We have to have a proper debate about this.

“Simply proceeding by threatening to remove people’s rights without any consultation with the people of Scotland is quite simply wrong.

“We are taking a cautious approach yes, we are taking an evidence based approach. We are looking at matters further and if we decide that it may provide opportunities for Scotland, then perhaps it should be done in a controlled considered way, in appropriate parts of Scotland.”

A 12-week consultation on the proposals was announced in May by the then Business and Energy Minister, Michael Fallon.

He said: “Britain needs more home-grown energy. Shale development will bring jobs and business opportunities.

“We are keen for shale and geothermal exploration to go ahead, while protecting residents through the robust regulation that is in place.

via BBC News – Minister opposes change in fracking residential drilling rules.