The Infrastructure Bill and trespass laws.
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The Government has responded to concerns about the Bill on fracking by accepting new clause 19 which was added to the Bill last night. The clause said the following:

— Hydraulic fracturing: necessary conditions—

Any hydraulic fracturing activity can not take place:

(a) unless an environmental impact assessment has been carried out;

(b) unless independent inspections are carried out of the integrity of wells used;

(c) unless monitoring has been undertaken on the site over the previous 12 month period;

(d) unless site-by-site measurement, monitoring and public disclosure of existing and future fugitive emissions is carried out;

(e) in land which is located within the boundary of a groundwater source protection zone;

(f) within or under protected areas;

(g) in deep-level land at depths of less than 1,000 metres;

(h) unless planning authorities have considered the cumulative impact of hydraulic fracturing activities in the local area;

(i) unless a provision is made for community benefit schemes to be provided by companies engaged in the extraction of gas and oil rock;

(j) unless residents in the affected area are notified on an individual basis;

(k) unless substances used are subject to approval by the Environment Agency

(l) unless land is left in a condition required by the planning authority, and

(m) unless water companies are consulted by the planning authority.”

The purpose of this new clause is to ensure that shale gas exploration and extraction can only proceed with appropriate regulation and comprehensive monitoring and to ensure that any activity is consistent with climate change obligations and local environmental considerations.

The Infrastructure Bill does not change any other aspect of the existing regulatory system, such as procedures for surface access, planning, environmental permits or safety controls. In particular, the proposals do not weaken existing requirements for public consultation prior to the granting of planning permission or environmental permits for developments and therefore I supported the Government in the lobbies on all other issues relating to fracking.

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