The planning regime for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in England

The following Planning practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The planning regime for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in England
  • What is shale gas and fracking?
  • The stages of shale gas development
  • Consents required for shale gas development
  • Development consent order
  • Planning permission
  • Need for planning permission
  • Decision-maker
  • Pre-application matters
  • Procedural application matters
  • More...

The planning regime for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in England

This Practice Note summarises the planning regime for hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, in England. While the process is similar in Scotland and particularly in Wales, there are some distinct differences due to recent constitutional changes in the UK. Additionally, the devolved administrations have imposed an effective ban on fracking in their countries. This Practice Note does not seek to address these differences.

The government has made clear in a Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) that, on the basis of the current scientific evidence, and in the absence of compelling new evidence, it has taken a presumption against issuing any further hydraulic fracturing consents. Fracking will not be allowed to proceed in England on the basis of scientific analysis published by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) on 2 November 2019. The OGA report found that it is not currently possible to accurately predict the probability or magnitude of earthquakes linked to fracking operations.

For an overview of other regulatory issues and consenting regimes which are applicable to fracking, see Practice Note: Fracking—regulatory issues.

What is shale gas and fracking?

Shale gas is a natural gas (predominantly methane (CH4)) found in shale rock (a sedimentary rock). Shale gas is classed as an unconventional fossil fuel, which means that additional procedures/techniques, beyond drilling, are required to extract it, such as 'hydraulic

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