Policies on shale gas development
All decisions about the extraction of minerals have to meet national and local planning guidelines. To gain planning permission, the applicant has to demonstrate how their development meets the relevant local and national planning policy and guidance.
National guidelines are set out in the Government’s National Planning and Policy Framework and Planning Practice Guidance. These guidelines are interpreted locally in the Minerals Local Plan prepared by Nottinghamshire County Council, which is currently under review.
The National Planning Policy Framework requires all Minerals Planning Authorities to provide for the extraction of mineral reserves of national importance, including onshore gas and oil reserves. Failure to so would result in the Minerals Local Plan being declared ‘unsound’, potentially exposing the Council to significant legal costs.
Nottinghamshire County Council, in its Preferred Approach for the new Minerals Local Plan, has set out the criteria against which any shale gas planning application would need to be assessed. Criteria include:
- Land allocation in the relevant development plan, for example for industry, housing etc
- Lighting, dust and noise
- Operating hours of the site
- Transport and routes to get to the site
- Heritage features and archaeology
- Wildlife and flora including any important habitats/protected species that might be disturbed
- Impact on water resources and potential flood risks
- Site restoration and aftercare once the works have been completed
- Impact on residential areas
These considerations reflect the latest Hydrocarbon Minerals development policy prepared by Nottinghamshire County Council in its Preferred Approach for the new Minerals Local Plan in October/November 2013 which states:
Policy MP12: Hydrocarbon Minerals
1. Proposals for hydrocarbon exploration will be supported provided they do not give rise to any unacceptable impacts on the environment or residential amenity.
2. Where hydrocarbons are discovered, proposals to appraise, drill and test the resource will be permitted provided that they are consistent with an overall scheme for the appraisal and delineation of the resource and do not give rise to any unacceptable impacts on the environment or residential amenity.
3. Proposals for the extraction of hydrocarbons will be supported provided they are consistent with an overall scheme enabling the full development of the resource and do not give rise to unacceptable impacts on the environment or residential amenity.
4. Where proposals for hydrocarbon development coincide with areas containing other underground mineral resources, evidence must be provided to demonstrate that their potential for future exploitation will not be unreasonably affected.
5. All applications for hydrocarbon development will be accompanied with details of how the site would be restored back to its original use once the development is no longer required.