The Government has revealed it is creating a set of “robust regulation” to speed up shale gas development in the country.
Speaking at the first meeting of the new All Parliamentary Group for Unconventional Gas & Oil (APPG) in the House of Commons today, Energy Minister Michael Fallon (pictured) confirmed more than 300 licences for onshore exploration and development have already been issued, out of which 60 are substantial. He insisted the Government is creating the “right framework” to accelerate shale gas development in a “responsible way”.
The new Energy Minister added: “We announced fracking could resume with robust regulation last December and there is nothing now stopping licensees from bringing on new drilling plans. It is up to licensees to come forward with plans to explore the shale potential, engaging with local communities and gaining the necessary planning permissions and permits.
“Shale gas has great potential and we have the right regulation in place so the UK benefits as quickly as possible in terms of energy security, investment and jobs. But development must be done in partnership with communities. We are working hard with industry on a package of community benefits and to ensure that their concerns are properly met.”
The Government expects to launch a new round of licence applications next year.
However, the news has already sparked criticism among green groups. Lawrence Carter, Greenpeace Energy Campaigner said: “By rolling out the red carpet for fracking companies, the Government is pandering to climate sceptic backbenchers and ignoring the very real concerns of communities across England.
“With everyone from Ofgem to Deutsche Bank to the Secretary of State for Energy agreeing UK shale gas won’t bring down bills, fracking could end up being a lot of pain. The Government should brace itself for a fight back.”