Industry leaders hail Government fracking announcement

INDUSTRY is welcoming the Government’s scheduled announcement today over the fast-tracking of fracking planning applications.

The announcement to be delivered by energy minister Greg Baker will decree that councils must rule on applications within the current 16-week statutory timeframe.

If they repeatedly delay, ministers might take over the power to decide all future applications in that local area.

His call has been hailed by fracking firm iGas Energy, which is involved in seven shale gas projects in the Bowland Basin.

A statement for iGas said: “We welcome the announcement made today by Government that gives clarity on the timetable for determining planning decisions for onshore oil and gas exploration.

“IGas has more than 30 years’ experience of safely and successfully  extracting oil and gas onshore in Britain and we will continue to ensure that any risks or environmental impacts are minimised.

“We also recognise that long term sustainable community engagement is critical to ensuring we maintain our social licence to operate and we are committed to working closely with our neighbours in the areas in which we operate.”

Manufacturers organisation the EEF, also weighed in with comment. Its director of policy Paul Raynes said: “Today’s announcement is a clear demonstration from Government that it intends to hit the ground running and get a UK shale gas industry moving.

“It has been obvious for quite some time that the regulatory quagmire that industry has to wade through is acting as a wholly unnecessary brake on development in the sector.

“Desperately needed reform was frustratingly slow during the last parliament, but the new government has grasped the nettle and shown it is serious about the issue.

“Today’s announcement respects democracy and community engagement, and is good for energy security, good for growth and good for the UK.”