The head of the fracking company, Cuadrilla, warned this morning that investors didn’t have “limitless patience”.
Speaking at the Shale World Uk conference in London, Francis Egan said the government had good intentions in setting limits on the length of time that councils could take to decide planning applications. But he said it was not delivering.
In August last year, the government told mineral planning authorities they should decide shale gas applications within the statutory time limit of 16 weeks or risk losing their decision-making role.
Mr Egan said:
“Speaking for Cuadrilla, we are quite a long way away from 16 weeks, we’re approaching two years. I think Third Energy is approaching one year.”
“So the words are good, the intent is good but the delivery is not. Investors have patience but it’s not limitless.”
Cuadrilla’s applications to frack at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood, submitted in 2014, are currently being considered by a planning inspector and will be decided by the Communities and Local Government Secretary, Greg Clark. Third Energy’s application to frack at Kirby Misperton was first submitted in May 2015 and will probably be decided on Monday 23 May 2016.
Mr Egan was responding to the keynote address by the Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom.
She told the meeting of representatives from the shale gas industry:
“We need to tackle the issue of extensive planning delays head-on if we are to reap the benefits that shale gas offers to our energy security, jobs and wider economy.
“Firms that want to explore for shale gas need to be confident that their application will be processed in a timely way and examined purely on a planning basis. The new measures we’ve introduced will help to make this happen.
“We are addressing a problem that causes unnecessary delays and benefits no one.”
Mrs Leadsom said the government was “understandably keen to press ahead and get exploration underway” and added:
“This requires close partnership working between planning authorities, the industry, regulators and local communities.”
A decision on Cuadrilla’s Lancashire applications was postponed in January 2015 when the company asked for a deferral to present new information after planning officers recommended refusal.
On Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton application, North Yorkshire County Council asked the company several times for additional details or clarification on its submission.
In both Lancashire and North Yorkshire, the councils held extra public consultations on the new information
In Nottinghamshire, where IGas has applied to explore for shale gas at Misson, the county council has also asked the company for further information and an extra consultation is about to end.
The Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom also said the government would be consulting later in the year on plans for a shale gas sovereign wealth fund. DrillOrDrop asked the Department for Energy and Climate Change for more details but no one was able to respond this evening.