SMEs welcome fracking planning news
The trade body that represents SMEs in the onshore oil and gas industry supply chain has today welcomed government moves to speed up shale gas planning decisions.
The government has today announced plans to ensure that councils decide on shale gas applications within the 16 week statutory determination period, in a move welcomed by the Onshore Energy Services Group (OESG).
A spokesperson at the OESG, said: “Today’s announcement comes as welcome news to the small businesses up and down the country that are bearing the brunt of the continuing delays affecting the onshore oil and gas sector.
“Just this week, 38 people have been made redundant by a drilling contractor as a direct consequence of these hold-ups.
“There is no reason why onshore oil and gas planning applications should take any longer to decide than other energy and infrastructure projects. 16 weeks should be ample time in most cases, and it’s pleasing to see the government stepping-in to ensure that’s the case in future.”
The measures include identifying councils that repeatedly fail to determine oil and gas applications within the 16 week statutory timeframe, with subsequent applications potentially decided by the Communities Secretary.
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said:
“As a One Nation Government, we are backing the safe development of shale gas because it’s good for jobs giving hardworking people and their families more financial security, good for our energy security and part of our plan to decarbonise the economy. We need more secure, home grown energy supplies – and shale gas must play a part in that.
“To ensure we get this industry up and running we can’t have a planning system that sees applications dragged out for months, or even years on end. Oversight by the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency of shale developments makes our commitment to safety and the environment crystal clear. We now need, above all else, a system that delivers timely planning decisions and works effectively for local people and developers.”
Communities Secretary Greg Clark said:
“There is huge potential right across the country for safe and sustainable use of shale gas, to provide a clean long term energy source and create British jobs and growth.
“People’s safety and the environment will remain paramount and communities will always be involved in planning applications but no one benefits from uncertainty caused by delays in planning decisions. By fast tracking any appropriate applications today’s changes will tackle potential hold ups in the system.”
The planning system was singled out as a major obstacle to successful shale gas development by the Institute of Directors in its 2013 report ‘Getting Shale Gas Working.’
The move to make sure decisions are reached in an appropriate timescale comes after it took Lancashire County Council a year to decide two planning applications submitted by Cuadrilla.