Fresh setback to Government’s drive for shale gas exploration as decision on whether to allow fracking for first time since 2011 is delayed
Government hopes of a shale gas revolution have suffered yet another setback after it emerged that a decision on plans for fracking in Yorkshire has been delayed.
Third Energy, which is backed by Barclays Bank, applied this summer to frack a well it has drilled near Kirby Misperton in Ryedale. Under official guidelines, the application should have been decided by November 18.
But North Yorkshire Council has now confirmed it is about to launch a fresh 21-day round of consultation on further information it had requested from the company – meaning it is expected to miss the deadline.
The delay raises the possibility that the application could be “called in” for a decision to be taken by ministers instead.
The Government this summer announced new guidelines that were supposed to see shale gas planning applications “fast-tracked”, threatening that it could intervene in any applications, and especially those where councils failed to meet the 16-week deadline.
But industry sources suggested that Third Energy was likely to agree to a request from North Yorkshire to extend the decision-making period, making it unlikely that Greg Clark, the communities secretary, will choose to intervene at this stage.
A spokesman for Third Energy said it trusted that the council “has the capacity and information to manage this process within a timeframe acceptable to all interested parties”.