August 2014

Underground Drilling Access - a consultation

This UK Government consultation makes proposals to reform the procedure for gaining underground access to oil or gas deposits and geothermal energy, and provides a compensation framework for landowners. While not commenting on the policy issue of whether or not fracking should be undertaken in the UK, in its response the Society concentrated its comments on highlighting the fact that the correct framework must be put in place to support industry and local communities as well as safeguarding the environment and public safety.  The Society supports the proposal to make a community payment rather than an individual landowner payment, but it is currently unclear how payments are going to be made and thereafter distributed to the community.

The Society also suggested consideration be given to whether or not a single lump payment is always the appropriate option or whether compensation payments should be tiered and linked to different levels of work, such as exploration or testing, development and, finally, production.  If tiered, then further consideration would have to be given to whether a backstop cap would be introduced so as not to hinder industry with an onerous fee scale.

The full response can be found on the Society's website