After a government consultation resulted in 40,000 objections to changes to trespass laws that would allow energy companies to drill on private land, the government has decided to go on with the reform and ignore the public’s concerns.
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Of the 40,647 responses, 99% told the consultation they opposed changes to the trespass law, which would give energy companies rights to access the land under private properties, similar to those given to coal mining operations.
The amendments would also include drilling for shale gas through the controversial and much-criticised process of fracking, which the government believes would help secure Britain’s energy future.
However, despite the opposition shown in the consultation, the government has decided to go forward with the measure, arguing that “the proposed policy remains the right approach to underground access and that no issues have been identified that would mean that our overall policy approach is not the best available solution.”
Business and energy minister Matt Hancock said, “Exploring the natural energy resources beneath our feet, within a robust regulatory framework, is important for our national energy security and helps create jobs. These new rules will help Britain to explore the great potential of our national shale gas and geothermal resources, as we work towards a greener future – and open up thousands of new jobs in doing so.”
Whilst welcomed by the industry, which argues that landowners will not notice the underground activity, the announcement has been strongly criticised by the Green Party and environmental groups.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas labelled the decision as “outrageous”, while Friends of the Earth senior campaigner Jane Thomas said, “This government seems hell-bent on fracking irrespective of widespread opposition.
“You’d think with a general election approaching politicians would listen to public opinion and get behind the popular energy solutions of cutting waste and backing renewables.”
Simon Clydesdale, energy campaigner for Greenpeace UK added, “The roar of opposition to this arrogant policy is deafening, yet ministers are determined to blithely ignore what the overwhelming majority of the British public thinks and wants.
“There’ll be a hefty political price to pay for this massive sell-out to the narrow interests of the shale lobby.”
Photo: Frack Free Fernhurst via Twitter