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Labour Hardens Stance On UK Shale Gas Development

Jim Pickard, Financial Times

Labour will seek to tighten the regulations governing the extraction of shale gas on Monday as the UK opposition party hardens its stance over the contentious technology.

The extraction of shale gas through hydraulic fracturing of rock, or “fracking”, will be discussed by MPs as part of legislation to reform trespass laws, which can stand in the way of exploration.

A number of Liberal Democrat MPs and a handful of Tories are also expected to voice concerns about the industry, amid hardening environmental opposition.

The government is concerned that the industry is being held back because developers have to apply to courts for permission to drill underneath people’s homes.

Ministers are also urging the Environment Agency to cut the time it takes to grant a permit from a typical 13 weeks to a fortnight.

Labour will put forward a number of amendments to “close key loopholes” in the environmental regulations governing the industry.

It will call for a presumption against fracking on protected land such as areas of outstanding natural beauty, national parks and sites of special scientific interest.

Other amendments will require greater openness about the fluids used in fracking, and the methane gas emissions that may result from the process, as well as mandating independent well inspections.

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