The Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, suggested today that shale gas companies would not apply to frack in sensitive areas, such as the edge of villages.
Speaking to a new parliamentary group on shale gas regulation, she also argued that the planning system would protect the landscape from thousands of frack pads. And she said the Government planned to announce soon how it would prevent fracking from the surface of National Parks.
Mrs Leadsom told the new All Party Parliamentary Group on Shale Gas Regulation about the criteria she thought companies would use when looking for fracking sites:
“Number one: don’t bother with a national park – we are consulting on not allowing that anyway and we hope to make that announcement very soon.”
“Number two: don’t bother with sensitive sites, you know, right on the edge of a village that you won’t get through planning anyway.”
“Number three: make it as concentrated on each frack pad as you can – so you have 10 boreholes on one frack pad. Don’t have one there and one over there two miles away because that adds to the cost.”
The minister said:
“Developers are business people. They are not there to destroy the environment. They are not there to upset the community.”
Mrs Leadsom’s appearance at the meeting came as North Yorkshire County Council announced that a shale planning application by Third Energy would be considered on 20 May 2016. The company wants to frack, test and possibly produce gas from an existing well less than a mile from homes in Kirby Misperton and Little Barugh.
The minister said there had been “so much misinformation” about shale gas and fracking and “a whole kind of mania about the world’s going to end”.
“Then the issue is are you going to have sort of 3,000 frack pads and the answer is no. The planning system would ensure – where that impacted on visual amenity and didn’t make sense because of the cumulative impact – that would be a perfectly legitimate planning reason to disallow further frack pads.
“The planning regime as it exists today would absolutely prevent massive cumulative impact.”