The government has launched an official consultation to change and simplify the rules on access to land for energy companies, which would allow drilling below 300m from the surface and would offer compensation to communities.
Under the new rules, companies will have to pay £20,000 per well to those living above the land and will have to clearly notify local people. In exchange, they would have the right of access for oil, shale gas and deep geothermal operations below 300m.
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.
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“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.”
The government makes clear that firms would still have to require permission and assess seismicity, environmental and planning impacts.
The news comes short after the British Geological Survey revealed that Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Kent could be sitting on huge reserves of shale oil.
However, the proposal to allow firms to frack on private land is opposed by 74% of Britons, according to a poll from earlier this month.
In February, landowners in Sussex joined forces with solicitors and launched a ‘legal blockade’ against energy companies on drilling on private and national park land. However, the proposed changes could mean that firms do not need the homeowners’ permission to drill, similar to what happens with firms that install water pipes or lay cables.
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