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New consultation launched to simplify deep underground access for shale gas and geothermal industries

The Government has announced a consultation over making the procedures for shale gas and oil and deep geothermal drilling access easier. Under the new plans, the procedures would be simplified making the whole process less time consuming and reducing delays.

During the consultation three major elements will be explored; these include access rights, payments for access, and notification of access

If accepted, the proposals would mean that companies would be able to explore the potential of underground drilling for oil, gas and deep geothermal; in return the companies would make a donation to the local community.

However, a company wishing to explore the potential of shale or geothermal would still need to seek permission. There would also be controls in place to protect the environment, and local communities would also be invited to have their say on how they feel exploration might affect their area.

Commenting in a press release, Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon said:

“Britain needs more home-grown energy. Shale development will bring jobs and business opportunities.

“We are keen for shale and geothermal exploration to go ahead while protecting residents through the robust regulation that is in place.

“These proposals allow shale and geothermal development while offering a fair deal for communities in return for underground access at depths so deep they will have no negative impact on landowners.”

Before a company would be granted permission to explore, they would have to satisfy certain conditions. These include keeping the local community informed of their plans and making a voluntary community donation of £20,000 for each well. The one-off £20,000 payment would need to be made when a well extends more than 200 metres laterally.

The consultation is to be held open for three months, and once enough feedback has been gathered, the Government will make a further announcement concerning the next steps that are to be taken.

Consultations will end on April 15, 2014, and people are invited to review the consultation online or submit queries by visiting the Government consultation page at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/underground-drilling-access

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