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Fracking debate heats up – 80% of Scottish Population will be impacted

Now that the referendum is over and results in for better or worse we have a huge fight on our hands – Fracking.  Westminister has licenced out large swathes of Scottish land in the central belt where 80% of the population currently lives.

You may wonder how they managed to get away with it well they called the bill such an innocous and boring name that’es how – The Infrascture Bill – yep sounds really exciting doesnt it and run of the mill crap that comes out of Westminister.  But it has an inclusion which gives fracking companies the right to frack under peoples homes and to use any kind of chemical it wants to do so.

The central belt is heavily mined whether it be coal, sandstone or other elements and so much subsidence as well that to frack in this area would be criminal. Not only that but Scottish householders do not have the right to object. So what this means is that companies like Dart Energy, Eneos etc can drill underneath your house without permission aaarrghhhh

108bn litres of waste water contaminated with fracking chemical and radioactive elements will be released into UK land. Cad Cameron’s government said by using fracking this would reduce the UK’s carbon emissions

The UK’s licensing explained re oil and gas etc

Here is a link to the Westminster site for the Infrastucture Bill

Current blocks of licensing under offer by WM 14th round map of the acreage being offered – red currently on offer and yellow already licensed

Department of Energy and Climate Change -Strategic Environmental Assessment for Further Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing – this report is misleading if you check page xv it says that there is no environmental impact the fibbers.  Also there is only a passing reference to NORM (naturally occuring radiation).  Now what about Radon levels ? Dangerous levels of radioactivity was found in Pennsylvania fracking waste site.

Below is an extract of the government website consultation :

 Is coal bed methane (CBM) in scope of the proposals?

CBM requires a Petroleum Licence as this product is defined under the Petroleum Act 1998 and would also require a coal access agreement with the Coal Authority to pass through the coal seam or any non-coal minerals owned by the Coal Authority. CBM is focussed on coal seams, however, if access to underground land outside of a coal seam is required then this currently would require an access agreement from those landowners in possession of that particular piece of land, via the same procedure as oil and gas.

Therefore, these proposals on underground access could be used to grant underground access (to land below 300 metres) for the purpose of CBM extraction. The requirements of a Petroleum Licence and coal access agreement would remain unchanged.

Is heat recovery from water in disused mines in scope?

Great Britain has geothermal potential in mine water, some of which is located at depths greater than 300m. The proposals in the consultation would apply to the extraction of mine water heat at these depths.

What will courts consider when making a decision on access under the existing procedure?

If individual access negotiations between a landowner and an oil and gas operator fail, the operator can refer the matter to the court via the Secretary of State. The Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act 1966 allows minerals developers, including the holder of a petroleum licence to obtain a right of access, if certain conditions are met.

These conditions (as set out in section 3 of the Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act 1966) state that a right cannot be granted unless it is not reasonably practicable to obtain the right by private arrangement for any of the following reasons:

a) that the persons with power to grant the right are numerous or have conflicting interests b) that the persons with power to grant the right, or any of them, cannot be ascertained or cannot be found c) that the persons from whom the right must be obtained, or any of them, have not the necessary powers of disposition, whether by reason of defect in title, legal disability or otherwise d) that the person with power to grant the right unreasonably refuses to grant it or demands terms which, having regard to the circumstances, are unreasonable

The court must also be satisfied that the grant is expedient in the national interest.

This procedure has only once been used in respect of petroleum and there is no shale gas or oil-specific precedent due to the nascent stage of the shale industry. This procedure is not applicable to geothermal energy projects.

What do the proposals mean in terms of the law of trespass in England, Wales and Scotland?

In England and Wales, any unauthorised entry onto privately owned land is a trespass. In Scotland, although trespass is governed by Scottish law, it is similar in that trespass denotes any temporary physical intrusion in the land of another without his permission; it is an infringement of a person’s right to the exclusive use and occupation of his land.

The purpose of our proposals is not to change trespass law in England and Wales but the effect of the proposals is that trespass law would not apply to land deeper than 300 metres where a company had obtained an automatic right of access and was in compliance with any conditions attached to that right.

In terms of the law of trespass in Scotland, the proposals are the same as in England and Wales and the effect is the same. Interaction with planning in Scotland is the same as it is in England and Wales.

What depth would hydraulic fracturing take place at?

As set out in the consultation document, it is expected that hydraulic fracturing will typically occur at depths more than a mile down. However, it can take place closer to the surface – this is dependent on the geology of the operation. The Department of Energy and Climate Change holds no view on the merits of operations at different depths. This is for the environmental regulator to assess on a case-by-case basis.

Our proposals on access rights are about removing an existing obstacle and would apply to all applicable drilling activities below 300 meters. We consider it appropriate to keep the requirement in place for an operator to agree access with the individual landowners at depths above 300 metres, but this is not intended to preclude activities at these shallower depths.

 Below is further information re Scotland the blighters

The UK Government decision is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-remove-barriers-to-onshore-oil-and-gas-and-deep-geothermal-exploration

2. The five main changes in the recently published Scottish Planning Policy relating to onshore unconventional oil and gas extraction are:

  • Confirmation that the concept of buffer zones should be applied to all proposals for the first time;
  • Putting in place an additional requirement for risk assessments to be prepared, using a source-pathway-receptor model, to ensure a transparent and evidence-based approach to assessing whether proposed buffer zones are acceptable;
  • Making explicit that buffer zones will be assessed by the planning authority and statutory consultees, with a strong expectation that planning permission should be refused if they are unacceptable;
  • Ensuring that operators are upfront about their plans and that communities are consulted on all unconventional gas developments, including close involvement in the risk assessment process;
  • Requiring a fresh planning application (and public consultation) if permission was not sought for hydraulic fracturing but developers subsequently intend to undertake this process.

3. There are a number of regulators involved in the regulation of activities associated with unconventional gas:

  • the licencing of onshore oil and gas activities is a reserved matter managed through the competitive bidding process for licences known as Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDL) and issued by the UK Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC);
  • Drilling operations which propose hydraulic fracturing techniques ’fracking’ require an added layer of permissions in the form of a licence under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (CAR license). CAR licences are issued and conditioned by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) who carry out a risk assessment as part of its specific obligations to evaluate risks to the water environment when assessing such applications;
  • Operators must also provide details of all of the chemical additives proposed to be used in drilling and fracturing fluids to SEPA, who then use this information in their examination of any application for injection, to ensure the substances involved are of a type and at a concentration that will not cause pollution of the water environment;
  • An additional layer of regulation is applied to some surface activities connected to onshore gas extraction such as refining of gas, gasification and other heat treatments, combustion or disposal of liquid or solid wastes, which are controlled by SEPA through their Pollution, Prevention and Control License (PPC);
  • The Health & Safety Executive monitors unconventional gas operations from a well integrity and site safety perspective – safe working practices as required under the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974, and regulations made under the Act – The Borehole Site and Operations Regulations 1995 (BSOR) and The Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and Construction, etc) Regulations 1996 (DCR);
  • Any activity which intersects, disturbs or enters coal seams requires prior written authorisation from the Coal Authority;
  • Any operator wishing to develop onshore gas in Scotland also needs to seek planning permission from the relevant Planning Authority, and of course the usual public notification and consultation processes apply.

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