Law could be changed to allow fracking below houses without owners’ permission

 

Ministers are reportedly reviewing laws that would allow fracking to be carried out underneath houses without the permission of the owners.

Trespass laws are being examined to pave the way for energy companies to explore for shale gas.

Operators need to ask homeowners before they drill under their land but can turn to the law to appeal if an agreement cannot be reached.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) is now reviewing whether the system, which can result in lengthy delays and costly court battles, is "fit for purpose". A consultation is expected to be published shortly.

A Whitehall source told the Daily Telegraph: "All options are on the table. It would be difficult to implement a regime that removed any kind of compensation. You could change the rules so you have a de facto right, but then you have to pay. The compensation could be less than £100."

The Government has repeatedly dismissed environmental concerns about fracking and backed proposals to drill down into large reserves of shale gas in rocks beneath the UK.

Opponents say this increases climate change, cause small earthquakes and pollute water supplies.

A Decc spokesman said: "Shale gas and oil operations that involve fracking in wells drilled over a mile down are highly unlikely to have any discernible impacts closer to the surface.

"Like any other industrial activity, oil and gas operations require access permission from landowners. But there is an existing legal route by which operators can apply for access where this can't be negotiated.

"We're currently considering whether this existing route is fit for purpose. Similar access issues apply to deep geothermal energy projects."

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