Should we allow fracking or not?

Published April 15th, 2014

To Frack or not to Frack?

Opinion on the controversial fracking debate remains firmly divided, says Peter Baron, utilities specialist at Berrys’ Northwich office.

Supporters claim fracking must be pursued if we are to consider complimentary methods of self sufficiency in terms of future UK energy requirements.

It is the opinion of supporters that sufficient shale gas exists beneath the ground to solve the UK’s fuel problems. Conversely, those objecting to fracking have expressed concerns relating to damage to the environment, including the risk of seismic activity and water pollution.

The fracturing or ‘fracking’ technique typically involves drilling a vertical well to a depth of two kilometres, then drilling horizontally into the shale rock, typically for greater distances between two to 10 kilometres. Fluids are then injected into the rock under high pressure causing the shale to fracture releasing trapped gas which is then able to flow into the well above. Currently companies are required to have the following in place before fracking can proceed;

• A Petroleum Exploration and Development License and Well Consents from DECC

• The documented or licensed consent of the landowners whose land is at ground level above an intended well site.

• The consent of any landowners whose land is required to provide access to the site.

• Planning permission from the Local Authority concerned (The Minerals Planning Authority).

The Prime Minister recently suggested that the benefits to the UK economy would seem to outweigh any as yet, unsubstantiated side effects of fracking. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is reviewing whether the existing fracking process, which requires landowner consent, remains ‘fit for purpose’.

A ‘simplified system’ for obtaining permission for fracking is under consideration and if approved, could include changes in the existing law of trespass, seemingly making the process easier for fracking companies. Further potentially controversial plans will continue to be published for consultation over the coming months.

If you are contacted by a fracking company, or become aware that land within your ownership is identified for fracking, you may require advice and assistance. Please call Berrys for an initial, no-obligation discussion.

Peter Baron can be contacted at the Northwich office of Berrys on 01606 818960 or mobile 07741 273160. You can email him at mail to://


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