CLA: Government fracking decision puts land and home owners at risk

30 September 2014

A Government decision to allow fracking to take place below people’s property without their permission will put home and land owners at risk, says CLA Midlands.

The Association says that by rejecting over 40,000 objections – 99 percent of responses - to a consultation proposing controversial changes to trespass law, Ministers have failed to tackle the issue of long-term liability.

The response by the Department of Energy and Climate Change to the Underground Drilling Access Consultation makes it clear that Government plans to progress with changes allowing the shale gas and geothermal industries to drill deep underneath land and property without the owner’s permission but does not make clear who is liable if things go wrong.

CLA Midlands Rural Surveyor Richard Goodwin said: “We are greatly concerned to see the Government seemingly looking to meet the needs of the shale gas industry without addressing the impact on land and property owners.

“There continues to be a lack of information regarding long-term liability, which is a vitally important issue and must be addressed before development continues further.

“Extensive fracking is new to the UK and carries an element of risk as with any oil or gas extraction. The impact over a long period of time is also unproven, and the industry would gain more support if it liaised directly with affected landowners, rather than relying on the Government removing barriers to objections on access.

“It seems extraordinary to push through legal changes when the shale gas industry already has a means of gaining access where they cannot do so by mutual agreement.

“Rather than the Government embarking on law changes, shale gas operators should start to work with those set to be affected and recognise their responsibility to landowners.”

Mr Goodwin reiterated the CLA’s welcome of a more collaborative approach, such as that proposed by industrial giant Ineos, which aims to gain the support of landowners and communities by sharing the benefit of development, as a step in the right direction.

He added: “It seems only right that those whose property is drilled beneath feel some benefit from the process. But critical concerns of landowners surrounding long term liability still need to be addressed by the industry.”

The government response to the Consultation on Proposal for Underground Access for the Extraction of Gas, Oil or Geothermal Energy can be found here.

The CLA's comment on the Ineos proposal can be found her