Fracking: Underground Drilling Access Consultation

Members concerned with fracking may be aware of a proposal by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to remove the need for landowner consent for underground works associated with oil, gas and geothermal heat exploration. This proposal was the subject of a consultation on underground drilling access.

While the CLA is not opposed to the development of the UK’s shale gas and geothermal resources, we have serious concerns with these proposals regarding land ownership and property rights and these were detailed in our response.

A copy of the consultation response can be viewed here.

In summary, the CLA response stated that:                

  • the CLA objects to the proposed changes to access,
  • we disagree with the inclusion of geothermal heat in the proposals since the ownership of geothermal heat remains undefined,
  • we have highlighted the need to address issues around long-term liability about which many members have expressed concern,
  • we put forward a preference for a standard access agreement to be introduced over statutory right of access for oil, gas and geothermal companies,
  • we disagree with the proposals for a community fund payment and instead argue that any payment should be made directly to the landowner whose rights would be infringed by the changes.

We now await the Government response to the consultation which will outline how it intends to proceed with any changes to underground access rights. The CLA will continue to monitor developments around shale gas and provide further updates when the response is published.