Shale gas development
As the local Minerals Planning Authority, Nottinghamshire County Council is responsible for determining planning applications relating to onshore oil and gas development, including shale gas extraction using hydraulic fracturing, more widely known as ‘fracking’.
This section provides an overview of the planning process and information about shale gas exploration.
The information is relevant for any shale gas application in Nottinghamshire.
National and local planning frameworks
With the future of the UK’s energy supplies becoming increasingly important as existing offshore reserves decline, the National Planning Policy Framework expects Minerals Planning Authorities to provide for the extraction of mineral reserves of national importance.
All decisions about the extraction of minerals are considered against national and local planning guidelines.
National guidelines are set out in the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework and the Planning Practice Guidance.
Paragraph 215 of the NPPF states that; Minerals planning authorities should:
(b) when planning for on-shore oil and gas development, clearly distinguish between, and plan positively for, the three phases of development (exploration, appraisal and production), whilst ensuring appropriate monitoring and site restoration is provided for;
(c) encourage underground gas and carbon storage and associated infrastructure if local geological circumstances indicate its feasibility.
Government’s current position on shale gas
In addition to planning permission, consent to hydraulic fracture is required from the Secretary of State under the Infrastructure Act 2015. On 4 November 2019 the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy issued an energy policy update which stated that “On the basis of the current scientific evidence, Government is confirming today that it will take a presumption against issuing any further Hydraulic Fracturing Consents. This position, an effective moratorium, will be maintained until compelling new evidence is provided which addresses the concerns around the prediction and management of induced seismicity”.
In April 2022 the Government issued a Policy paper entitled British Energy security strategy which stated;
“remaining open-minded about our onshore reserves. We have commissioned an impartial technical review on shale gas by the British Geological Survey to consider any further scientific updates on seismicity that the govt ought to consider. The pause continues to remain in place unless new evidence emerges. Any exploration or development of shale gas would need to meet rigorous safety and environmental protection both above ground and sub-surface”.
Once the review by BGS is concluded, and any new Government advice issued, further information will be set out on the Council’s website.
Minerals Local Plan
NPPF policies and national guidance are interpreted locally in the ‘adopted’ Minerals Local Plan, prepared by the County Council, as the local Minerals Planning Authority.
The Council adopted the Minerals Local Plan on 25 March 2021. This replaces saved policies from the previous Minerals Local Plan.
The new Minerals Local Plan covers the period to 2036 and sets out how much mineral we are likely to need, site specific allocations to meet identified demand and a range of planning policies against which future minerals development will be assessed.
The Minerals Plan was prepared following extensive public consultation and examination by an independently appointed Planning Inspector.
The Adopted Minerals Local Plan [PDF] can be viewed here.
'Policy MP12 Oil and Gas', against which planning applications for oil and gas development, including unconventional hydrocarbons, would be assessed. This states;
1. Exploration, appraisal and commercial production of oil and gas will be supported, provided the site and equipment are located where this will not have an unacceptable environmental impact.
Proposals at each stage must provide for the restoration and subsequent aftercare of the site, whether or not oil or gas is found.
- Search the planning application database
- Read the Shale Gas Extraction [PDF] - advice for Planning Aid volunteers, politicians, community groups and individuals affected by shale gas proposals
- Nottinghamshire Minerals Local Plan www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/planning-and-environment/minerals-local-plan/new
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