The UK Government has announced new measures to support development of the onshore shale gas industry.
As part of this effort, the government plans to introduce measures to streamline and improve the regulation process for shale gas planning applications to ensure decisions are made more quickly.
The measures will include setting up a Shale Environmental Regulator and new Planning Brokerage Service to focus exclusively on the planning process. It will have no role in the consideration or determination of planning applications.
Additionally, the government intends to launch a new £1.6m shale support fund, which will be used over the next two years to capacity and capability in local authorities dealing with shale applications.
UK Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: “British shale gas has the potential to help lower bills and increase the security of the UK’s energy supply while creating high quality jobs in a cutting-edge sector.
“This package of measures delivers on our manifesto promise to support shale and it will ensure exploration happens in the most environmentally responsible way while making it easier for companies and local communities to work together.”
The government said it will also launch a consultation on the principle whether the shale exploration projects will be allowed for drilled without requiring planning application.
Welcoming the announcement, oil and gas exploration and production company Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan said: “We very much welcome the Government’s announcement today highlighting the national importance that shale gas development has in delivering a safe and secure energy source, whilst meeting the country’s Climate Change obligations.
“In particular we welcome the measures the Government has introduced on making the planning process “faster and fairer” and providing additional resources to help local authorities.”