The Government’s decision to allow fracking to take place below people’s property without their permission will put home and land owners in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire at risk, says the eastern Country Land and Business Association Ltd.
The Association says that by rejecting over 40,000 objections to controversial changes to trespass law, ministers have failed to properly tackle the issue of long-term liability.
The CLA claim DECC’s response to the Underground Drilling Access Consultation makes it clear the 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 it still does not make clear who is liable if things go wrong, the CLA warn.
A national report earlier this year quoted British energy firm IGas as saying up to 10 percent of the UK’s gas supply for the next decade could come from shale gas, produced in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.
It hopes to see up to 15 fracking sites in use over that period.
CLA East Regional Surveyor Tim Woodward 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 from the Government regarding long-term liability. This is a vitally important issue that 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.”
“Oil and gas operator interest in land will be relatively short term and there seems to be little protection for landowners and home owners should problems occur if an operator becomes insolvent or is no longer in business in years to come,” said Mr Woodward.
“The number of responses to this consultation shows the high level of interest in the development of the shale gas industry in the UK, considering 99 percent of respondents to the consultation were opposed to the legal changes, we are deeply disappointed the Government is not prepared to take a more balanced approach, better recognising existing property rights,” he added.
Mr Woodward also said the shale gas industry would gain more support if it liaised directly with affected landowners to allay fears, rather than relying on the Government removing barriers to objections on access.
“The shale gas industry already has a means of gaining access where they cannot do so by mutual agreement, so it seems extraordinary the Government is set to push through law changes when it has yet to be proved the current system is not fit for purpose. The shale gas industry already has a poor public perception and these proposals are unlikely to improve that situation,” said Mr Woodward.
“Rather than the Government embarking on law changes, shale gas operators should start to work with those set to be affected in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, and across the country as a whole and recognise their responsibility to landowners.”