Developers of shale gas projects could be required to consult with local communities even before submitting planning applications under new rules proposed by the UK Government.
It has launched a consultation seeking to further reform practice in the shale gas industry in England and is seeking views on whether to require developers to publish relevant information, open a “meaningful dialogue” with communities and stakeholders and listen to residents and take account of what they say.
Developers would then be able to address concerns where possible before submitting final proposals to local authorities.
Currently, it is not a statutory requirement for applicants to undertake pre-application community consultation prior to submitting a planning application for all types of proposed development.
Early engagement with communities would give local people an earlier say on proposals whilst making developers aware of issues important to the community that may need to be resolved through working with the relevant local authority.
It is part of the government’s commitment to speed up the decision-making process.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “Domestic onshore gas production, including shale gas, has the potential to play a major role in further securing our energy supplies and creating economic benefits locally and nationally, including new jobs.
“The development of the shale gas industry has already led to millions of pounds being investment in the UK, supporting businesses and the supply chain and creating British jobs. Shale gas operators have also been making steady progress at the various stages of applying for the relevant permissions and consents for shale gas extraction. Later this year, we may see the first shale gas extraction activity since 2011.”
The consultation is open until 7th January 2019.