Fracking Licence

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News article

Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDLs)

September 2015

rural consultancy news

Introduction

In August, the Government finally announced the results of the 14th round of Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDLs) – some 10 months after applications closed in October 2014.

Licence blocks

Only 27 new licence blocks have been awarded, with a further 132 being provisionally awarded pending further environmental assessments.  These are shown on the plan below, but are mainly in the North West, Yorkshire, East Midlands and along the South coast.  Once final approval for the new licences has been granted, we can expect to see site investigations commence in these areas.

Click here to see the Plan

Planning rules

At the same time, the Government has also tightened the planning rules on local authorities who receive such applications, requiring them to decide on any applications within 16 weeks.   If this deadline is missed, the matter is referred to the Secretary of State to make the decision, thus removing local politics and influence.  This is a clear indication of the Government’s backing for the fracking industry and is in curious contrast with the recent withdrawal of support for some other renewable energy projects.

FAQs

Please refer to the list of Frequently Asked Questions and Next Stages listed below, for further information, particularly if you have clients in the areas affected by the new licences.

Further information

If you have any questions about this article, please contact William Gagie on 01530 410859 or email william.gagie@fishergerman.co.uk

 

Frequently Asked Questions and Next Stages

Following the announcement on 18 August 2015 by DECC, the first winners of the 14th round of Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDL) for onshore gas (“fracking”) have been made public.  There has been much speculation in the media as to what will happen next. Hopefully the answers below will clear up much of this uncertainty.

1. How were the licences awarded?

Answer: Back in 2014, the Government invited applications from the industry and at the closing date in October 2014, it had received just over 300 applications for 98 licence areas that had not previously been allocated.  These largely covered the Midlands and the South of England.  

This initial announcement covers just 27 licence blocks.  The actual award of licences will not take place until a further environmental assessment has been carried out over a further 132 licence areas.

 2. What will happen next?

Answer: The winning operator, who will have exclusive rights in their area, will need to carry out surveys across the whole of their licence area, which could be as large as 10km x 10km.  Initially, this is likely to comprise a detailed seismic survey of the geology of the whole licence area, followed up by more detailed surveys of areas of interest to them where drilling could take place.

3. When will the drilling start?

Answer: Any drilling will require planning permission and is thus unlikely to be imminent.  Location of drilling is strongly influenced by the geology of an area but also by factors such as access, proximity to residential properties, footpaths and landscaping impact.

 4. How much land will they need?

Answer: Each drilling site is likely to be about two hectares and in many licence areas, only one drilling site will be required.  In some of the larger licence areas, or where the geology is more complex, a second or even third site may be needed.  In addition, localised monitoring points will be required to monitor the drilling and extraction process but these will be the size of normal manhole chambers.

 5. How long will the project last?

Answer: Licences can last up to 30 years but the activity on site will be dictated by the volume of shale gas to be extracted and the rate at which it has taken.  As a result it is impossible to say how long there will be activity on site.

6. What about the changes to the planning rules that have been on the news?

Answer: As a sign of the Government’s enthusiasm for this industry, DECC has announced that should a local authority not determine a planning application for shale gas exploration within 16 weeks, it will be called in by the Secretary of State.  This follows Cuadrilla’s application being refused by Lancashire County Council after 12 months of consideration.  Whilst this may be seen as contrary to their general policy of “localism”, it is a clear sign of their backing for the industry as a whole.

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Fisher German hold auctions throughout the year. For further information about 2015 dates and results of past auctions, click below to visit our auction page.

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Fisher German hold auctions throughout the year. For further information about 2015 dates and results of past auctions, click below to visit our auction page.

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