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CPRE Sussex: Onshore oil and gas consultation

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 09:57

16 October 2013

Georgia Wrighton, Director of CPRE Sussex has responded to a Department of Communities and Local Government consultation which proposes to remove the requirement to notify landowners above fracking/shale gas drilling activities going on underground beneath their properties. Read the response in full:


Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Consultation on site notification: onshore oil and gas consultation

We are concerned at the Government’s proposal to remove the legal obligation to notify residents if horizontal drilling is taking place underneath their homes. The draft ‘standard’ application form fails to consider the complex and far-reaching impacts of unconventional oil and gas exploration and extraction, and attempts to ignore real concerns in the countryside about the impacts on local people and the environment.

Currently the law states that a developer must notify the relevant tenant or landowner if their application for underground operations relates to that person’s land. This is required by section 65 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, and article 11(2) of the General Permitted Development Order 2010. Developers have to give notice using a prescribed form The Government proposes to withdraw the requirement to notify where solely underground operations would be involved. Owners and tenants of sites affected by above-ground works would still be notified directly.

The ‘standard’ application and guidance set out by the Government at Annex A of the consultation document fails:

  • to require a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA),
  • to set out the need for detail on the extent of the underland activities
  • to require a clear site map with land use activities marked.

CPRE Sussex is concerned to ensure that transparency and fairness are maintained for every planning proposal, and this seems like a regressive step for local people. Residents will want to be able to understand and see for themselves how these proposals affects their dwelling, and we cannot support any attempt to undermine the right to be notified where local people have an interest or concern.

An Environmental Impact Assessment should be required at every stage of oil and shale gas drilling activities. It is through this process that local people will be able to contribute to debates about the degree and severity of impacts, and mitigations required to address effects on the area where they live and the wider environment. They may also wish to engage with other regulatory agencies to address their concerns.

Surely the requirement for checklist E – commercial benefits to the operator should be removed, this is not a material planning consideration and gives implicit bias towards industry interests over local concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Georgia Wrighton

Director, CPRE Sussex

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