Government seeks to strengthen planning case for onshore oil and gas

180228 KM Steve Spy

Tankers visiting Third Energy’s fracking site at Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire, 28 February 2018. Photo: Steve Spy

Local councils in England are to be required to develop policies that “facilitate” onshore oil and gas developments, under revised government guidelines.

The proposed revisions, published yesterday, also require planning authorities to “recognise the benefits” of exploration and extraction when deciding applications and “plan positively” for them.

People can comment on the changes in a consultation which runs until 10 May.

The Department of Communities, Local Government and Housing said the changes were to “provide clear policy on the issues to be taken into account” by planning authorities. The changes also built on Written Ministerial Statements of 16 September 2015, the Department said. These statements repeated the government’s view that there was a national need to explore and develop shale gas oil resources and sought to speed up onshore oil and gas decisions.

Changes in detail

The proposed changes are to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how they should be applied.

The NPPF, first published in March 2012, currently says (at Paragraph 144):

“When determining planning applications, local planning authorities should

“give great weight to the benefits of mineral extraction, including to the economy.”

The Government wants to change this to:

“Minerals planning authorities should:

“recognise the benefits of on-shore oil and gas development, including unconventional hydrocarbons, for the security of energy supplies and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy; and put in place policies to facilitate their exploration and extraction;”

In another proposed change, the existing NPPF (Paragraph 147) says:

“Minerals planning authorities should also:

“when planning for on-shore oil and gas development, including unconventional hydrocarbons, clearly distinguish between the three phases of development (exploration, appraisal and production) and address constraints on production and processing within areas that are licensed for oil and gas exploration or production;”

The revised version, in a new paragraph 204, says minerals planning authorities should:

“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);”

The new proposals additionally make a small change to the NPPF on underground working.

The existing paragraph 148 says:

“When determining planning applications, minerals planning authorities should ensure that the integrity and safety of underground storage facilities are appropriate, taking into account the maintenance of gas pressure, prevention of leakage of gas and the avoidance of pollution.”

But the new paragraph 205 adds to this underground exploration and extraction:

“When determining planning applications, minerals planning authorities should ensure that the integrity and safety of underground exploration, extraction and storage operations and facilities are appropriate, taking into account the maintenance of gas pressure, prevention of leakage of gas and the avoidance of pollution.”


The changes were largely overshadowed yesterday by new policy announcements on housing. The parliamentary statement by the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, did not refer the onshore oil and gas revisions, nor did any of the questions to him.

There was no reference in the proposals to take shale gas fracking out of local control and make the Secretary of State responsible for decisions. This is currently the subject of an inquiry by a parliamentary committee and was part of the Conservative Party 2017 election manifesto.

There was also no reference to another manifesto proposal to make non-fracking onshore oil and gas developments permitted developments which would not go through the full planning system.

The consultation continues until 11.45pm on Thursday 10 May 2018. Responses can be submitted:

  • online: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NPPFconsultation
  • by email using a consultation form and sent to planningpolicyconsultation@communities.gsi.gov.uk
  • by post to Planning Policy Consultation Team Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government 3rd floor, South East Fry Building 2 Marsham Street LONDON SW1P 4DF

144 replies »

  1. Kish you’re wasting your time talking to this lot. No matter how many facts and figures you put in front of them they don’t change their monotonous replies.
    It’s a bunch of NIMBY, anti rules and lost souls on the anti side. Luckily they don’t ever win when it comes to national elections so they end up playing the whole local democracy nonsense, which luckily for us is superseded by the national government. Conservatives won the election and they back onshore O&G, that’s the end of the argument.

    • Theresa May hardly has a majority GBK. Now being pulled between conflicting interests her feet aren’t firmly on the ground anymore. She’s caught between the Devil and the DUP (as Jonathan Freedland neatly put it). Your triumphalism is misplaced and naive.

    • Thanks GBK

      Even giving these posters an insight into the vuinverability of the U.K on Saturday and the Russian blatant show of strength on Sunday knowing full well that their very well needed LNG cargo was enroute to Wales. The excellent weather predictions on wind speed which I highlighted a few days ago seem to have overstated the wind as already wind power is down to an incredible 2.9%. No that decimal point is not in the wrong place not even 3% of electricity needed tonight, if this would have happened last week we would have been in real trouble. This is why the U.K had to buy the Russian LNG at any political cost as our very low gas reserve would have broken going into the Weekend.If this set of events were replicated in 2025 without any coal it would have been an absolute disaster. The MP quizzed on Sky news this afternoon closed his eyes when lying about, we are not dependent on Russian gas.

      It saddens me that a vast majority of people who enjoy the luxury this Country affords them. Oil and gas being a major part of it but despised.

      The illusion that wind turbines, solar panels, batteries, ASHP, tidal, and electric vehicles are just around the corner to take the full burden of our energy needs?

      Renewables with gas back up!!! YES…

      We need to take responsibility for the energy we use and the waste we produce

      We cannot pass the buck to other Countries with regard to GHG emissions but not prepared to have the generation in our own Country which would have less impact on the enviroment…

      Anyway the latest from the Government: If we find out you did this Russia we won’t play football with you!

  2. Alan-in a democracy houses are built to meet what the customer requests. In my world that’s what happens. In some other world’s it seems people have to be dictated to as to what they can have, or what is good for them. (I had similar ideas many, many years ago-until I started to pay tax. I even belonging to two trade unions, until I realised my contributions furthered the desires of a few and did nothing for most of the membership. That was a long time ago, but if one checks the number of union members who bother to vote on most issues, nothing seems to have changed.)

    However, that will be the reason why the survey is showing support against fracking is not growing. Just keep on saying those who don’t agree are motivated by base instinct and are less intelligent and you will see that pattern continue. If you can not persuade the British population you certainly will not get anywhere by then telling them they are part of the problem. There has always been some of this on DOD but it does seem to have grown as fracking approaches, however slowly.

  3. Martin. I’m surprised (actually I’m not surprised) that the government doesn’t make solar panels and ‘behind the meter’ electric storage mandatory on all new-builds. Not only would they represent a tiny fraction of overall costs they would pay for themselves within a few years and help towards strategically towards carbon targets.

  4. Look how how much of a laughing stock the U.K has become, reliant on Russian Gas…

    Russia, you are sooooo bad.

    Well that’s it you’ve done it now. We aren’t going to play football with you anymore, how do you like THAT!!!

    Problem sorted…

    • What is it with your obsession with Russian gas, or Russia per se? It’s been part of the mix for a long time (a small part). As other pipelines come on stream, as renewables grow and a s N.Sea developent (of new fields) continue, it will become an even smaller part. With respect, your obsession is getting a bit tiresome Kisheny.

      • Philip P, Kisheny? who ever they are have put forward that they are ex military; this may have some bearing on the Russian rants?
        It’s ironic that most of the world is in conflict, mainly due to resources and the UK is supplying the weapons as the second biggest arms dealer in the world; bit like the kettle calling the pan black?

        Or maybe they are just part of the pro-shale call centre, putting out the same crap day in day out like a broken record? Who knows, who cares; I have yet to read a pro-shale post that has not been ripped apart or found wanting, or shown as dogma. It’s the same stuff put onto the websites and in meetings without success.

        Maybe the latest psychology is to keep feeding the rubbish to the public, so eventually they get fed up or confused and cannot distinguish the truth from the fake news and don’t have the inclination or strength to check it out; remarkably this would follow the pattern of the current governance regarding Brexit; perhaps they are using the same PR company?

      • PP the latest version of the Tesla Powerwall Costs £5,400 for a single 14 kWh Powerwall battery. The supporting hardware costs £500. Installation costs range from £800 to £2,000. This does not include solar installation, electrical upgrades (if necessary), or any connection charges that may apply.

        So probably about £7K for a battery that will power a 2 bar electric fire for 7 hours, that wouldn’t have got you very far in keeping the average house warm in the recent cold spell. That’s of course without the cost of the solar panels. Given that you’ll need a back-up system for times when the sun doesn’t shine (I would recommend gas central heating!) even over a lengthy lifespan it’s going to be an unaffordable cost.

        Of course the technologies will improve and as Bill Gates has suggested we must invest billions to research a replacement for fossil fuels. Only a fool would say we shouldn’t look to harness the free power of the sun and wind but at the moment there is IMHO no alternative to a significant reliance on fossil fuels and/or nuclear power in the energy mix.

      • PP have you actually looked at the figures for the declining UK production from the North Sea? The resources are significantly depleted. Yes there are still pockets to be developed but it doesn’t look like we’ll ever be self-reliant as we were 20 years ago. In the meantime of course onshore shale gas, while not being a new North Sea, is going to make a significant contribution to homegrown supply.

        If the recent cold spell with quadrupling gas prices and supply alarms after just a few days cold aren’t enough to persuade people, then add in our reliance on European gas (mainly from Russia) and also the Middle East.

  5. When governments make things mandatory, PhilipP, it is a recipe for disaster-especially in respect of energy supply. I do find it surprising that these “great” developments should need to be made mandatory. If they are so great, people will decide for themselves. They really are not stupid if they don’t. My two neighbours who have invested in solar panels having been sold on their benefits, both indicate it was the worst investment decision they have made recently. Now, I know there will be others who love them but you try and make something mandatory with that sort of mixed background and disaster will follow.

    I don’t see an obsession with Russian gas, what I do see is a counter to the anti truth that has been on DOD for months that the UK has secure gas supplies so there is no merit in continuing to examine fracking. And then we see what happens, and our industry, only representing around 10% of GDP has to reduce output. (Good job we weren’t Germany!) Mind you, the Met. Office claimed not long ago severe snow was a thing of the past for the UK. Just proves reality has a habit of ignoring hype.

    • I suppose there’s something in what you say. The mandatory over-ruling of local democracy should be interesting. But all kinds of regulations can be considered ‘mandatory’ including thermal insulation in homes, and charging 5p on plastic shopping bags in supermarkets etc. It’s a way of ensuring progress in line with strategic targets. Not disastrous at all.

    • On Kishney’s posting history in the last 24 hours he/she must be averaging well over 50% about Russia / Russian gas, that’s pretty obsessive. Its you pro-fracks that like to make a big issue of Russian gas like its use is some sign of impending emasculation for the country. You guys used to do it about Qatari LNG but that seems to have fallen out of favour recently. Most anti-frackers accept it for what it is i.e. the European gas markets just getting on, working and providing a secure supply which includes reacting to adverse weather or other supply related short falls, which are ultimately exacerbated by a deliberate policy to operate with low storage capacity unlike other Northern European countries. But that doesn’t fit with the reactionary pro-frack at all costs narrative.

  6. Well, crembrule, just have a look at your Atlas and check where the Southern Gas Corridor will be operating. If you watched the Parliamentary Channel today I think you will find that there was great concern about Russian ability and desire to leverage through energy supply. For those who now see a relatively small hiccup and having to accept Russian supply, it is of course a concern. Pipelines across vast distances are vulnerable and can be interrupted and represent a much larger problem.
    Then you can look at a number of energy analysts recent comments about increased competition for existing supplies of gas and insufficient investment in new secure terminals to keep pace with demand.
    I know it is a bit inconvenient, but the secure gas supply platform has been blown away. Interesting choice of language that we are now “reactionaries”!

    • Can you show me where the security of supply has been blown away Martin. If anything since December and the Forties pipeline issues I have seen nothing but resilience to potential supply interruptions . It doesn’t fit your agenda but that’s the reality of the situation not speculation.

    • If you are truly worried about where your energy is supplied from, get off your backsides and cover your roofs with solar, organise a community wind generator, look at alternative heating, insulate your home, wear the right clothes for the season, stop wasting energy, whatever it takes.

      That way, although the initial product may come from outside the UK, like most of the consumables we buy as there is little manufacturing here in the UK [now there’s an idea for investment, MC?], the energy is free, yours, and will no longer contribute to the suffering of communities around the world who’s resources are being pillaged and their communities destroyed; in that I include those in the UK who are having the dirty shale gas industry rammed down their throats.

      It is so pathetic to blame someone else when you cannot take responsibility for your own actions. If that means adapting to a new technology; so be it. Stop blaming other countries and start blaming yourselves….

      If you cannot afford the investment in your freedom future do the next best thing and switch:

      • What alternative heating would that be? Basically heating is very energy intensive. The Head of the National Grid has stated that transferring from gas to electric heating for our homes would require a more than doubling of electricity generation. If you think you’re going to be able to do that with renewables using existing technologies then it’s just pie in the sky and cold pie at that! Insulate more, yes, use renewables, yes, but total reliance, nonsense for decades to come.

  7. Well, crembrule, you can keep claiming pipelines are secure as much as you like, but they are not. And, if they run through territory that is vulnerable, they are even more insecure-on land, or below water. Ships are pretty insecure too. You know the best security? It’s underneath our own feet. I think that was recognised when the drillers were brought over from USA to UK to extract oil when we needed it in WW2.

    So, industry didn’t need to pull back on gas use to enable households to be kept supplied? “Seen nothing”?? You may not want to look harder but others will.

    • the War ended in 1945 Martin perhaps you didn’t you get the memo?

      More reactionary bunkum, we should be looking to form working/ trading relationships globally not looking for non existent enemies under the bed in some Hooveresque way, that’s J Edgar btw not William Henry.

      • Oh dear oh dear, the old US roughneck saviours of Britain during the 2nd World War emerges into the mid Atlantic oil slick IN THE light of day again does it?

        What martin is not telling you is that Standard Oil under the guise of Exxon continued to refuel both sides of the conflict and supplied German u-boats in mid Atlantic throughout the 2nd World War.

        But that is not a popular view is it? A few US roughnecks who had to risk their lives travelling to Britain when the German forces fueled by Exxon were trying to sink them, must surely justify that little profiteering motive mustn’t it?

        Doubt that is true?

        Don’t take my word for it, look it up for yourselves.

        After all, business is business, isnt it?

        • My bad, that link should have been in parentheses, never mind, just borrow some industry blinkers, and you wont see a thing? Nor in fact….anything…..?

        • Yes the contrast between the behaviour of Standard Company and the aid given by the Wressle US oilmen to the UK is totally bizarre. Of course it’s still going on, Saudi Arabia and Iran are happy co-operating over the OPEC supply restriction while fighting a viscious proxy war in Yemen.

      • Looks like the enemies were not “under the bed” but quite likely busy outside poisoning a man and his daughter in the middle of Salisbury while at the same time selling us the natural gas we could be producing at home.

        Where does the money from the gas bill go Mummy? Well dear, some of it goes to finance poison factories in Moscow and some goes to pay head chopping dictators in the Middle East. Mummy, why don’t we make our own gas? Don’t know dear.

        • Mummy, why am I coughing up blood and can’t breathe?
          Because oil and gas companies tell us that fracking is harmless dear?

        • And again I’ll point you towards the hypocrisy of selling massive amounts of armaments to one Middle Easter regime that oppresses its people and wages a war against other Gulf States and not having any issue with that yet complaining about trading with another Middle Easter State for gas because they are an oppressive regime.

  8. Regrettably Collier, Kisheny, Gottabkidding et al are incapable of marshalling a cogent case supporting fracking (largely because no such case exists) so resort to refusing to accept any fact, regardless of the amount of evidence supporting that fact, and personal invective. [Edited by moderator] It’s pointless trying to debate them because they know the shale gas industry’s indefensible so won’t engage on any meaningful level and a waste of time attempting to shut them up because this is what they’re paid to do. The best thing to do is ignore them.

    • Had to google cogent and invective (insulting, abusive, or highly critical language) which I don’t agree with. Edited by moderator (never had that)?
      You have to debate with us. I have learnt two new things reading yours.

      Working in the Military and then the Offshore industry, also living close to the Cuadrilla site is what brought me to this website because of the effect it will have on not only myself but my family…

      It would be pointless if people didn’t debate as it would just be one opinion going round and round…

      The worst thing you could is not talk JB…

    • Personally I’m happy to debate the issues and of course my view of the facts is totally opposite. The main issue for me of course is how we keep the lights on in a way which balances environmental sensitivity, reduciing fuel poverty and ensuring security and reliability of supply. And of course I would argue that the idea of reliance on renewables without recourse to either fossil fuel or nuclear back-up is “indefensible”.

      • I’ve just seen all your recent points above shalewatcher. .. 1/ check out BP”s reports on new developments in rhe North Sea (they see an upturn in productivity) . 2/ people should pay more attention to both grid storage and home storage… Siemens and GE have huge grid projects underway (for grid power) and on the home front many early adopters are happy with the investment and prices continue to fall rapidly. 3/ the big point being missed is that all grid & home storage helps no matter the scale as it time shifts from oversupply periods and low (off peak) cost periods to peak demand periods. The resulting levelling effect means that baseload demand can be gradually scaled down … it is normally calibrated for peak demand and is semi redundant the rest of the time.

        • PP – OGA website shows that North Sea gas production was 90 billion therms in 2001 and is projected to be 10 billion therms in 2023 so absolutely no evidence to suggest that small increases in the near future will anywhere near replace the decline over the last 17 years. The shortfall will come from those nice people in Norway via pipeline but also fron Russia and the Middle East .

          Of course storage is potentially important but even hugh (and highly expensive) battery arrays such as the much vaunted Australiam Tesla project only really serve to even out voltage variability rather than providing baseload supply for more than a few hours.

  9. Paul you can’t really quote this website for evidence make it a little bit more independent, Guardian at a real push at least…

    • The piece quotes a FOI request (linked) from the Ambulance Service saying it was never formally notified of the one of the incidents referred to. There is also a direct quote from the Service confirming this was still their position at the time of writing and stating that they had no statistics on delays caused by protestors. We prefer to go with direct evidence wherever we can, rather than relying on newspapers.

      • So the basis of your denial is the statement below. As in it had not been formally entered into a system about the fake calls and that the reporting system does not capture that level of information?

        Paul, if you can justify diverting ambulances for fake calls and diverting them causing risk to life???? I can’t find the words…

        “Further to your enquiry below, I have made contact with the local area manager, Head of Service for Lancashire and our legal department and they are all unaware of any formal submission of this information. I also confirm that we are unable to provided statistics in relation to ambulance delays experienced whilst en-route to incidents, as our reporting system does not capture this level of information.”

        • I think it is important to get the record straight, and deal with recorded facts wherever possible, rather than rumour, hearsay and innuendo.

          I don’t think any of us, least of all the Ambulance Service manager quoted in the piece, is in favour of sending ambulances off on fake calls. What the DrillOrDrop report points out is that there is no official record of one of these reported incidents taking place, and no official figures on delays to ambulances caused by protestors.

          My remarks are not intended as a denial of anything, merely a statement of the information Ruth has gathered.

          Draw your own conclusions.

          • I appreciate your reply but I live three miles from the site and this affects not only myself but my young family. This has a personal affect…

            There are premeditated disturbances planned for the coming year and am very worried how this will develop

            • Three miles from the site is a very good place to be right now; have a thought for those who have young families who are less than a mile when the fracking starts [if it ever does]; however your respite will be short lived if operations start to spread out and head you way. Hope you have taken insurance on your property as it begins to devalue.

            • Dear oh dear! We seem to be running through the entire gamut of tory or propaganda? Everything from WW2 to Russian big bad bear boogie woogle bungle boys of Exxon company B?
              What next? Corbyn was a Russian poison umbrella assassin? Putin was a labour shadow leader?
              Perhaps Teresa May is really mild mannered Gregg Clark Kent in disguise? I think I spelled that right?
              Fun this isn’t it? All these new fake id’s to amuse and distract us from what is really going on?
              And what is that?
              Another anti Russian false flag event?
              That seems to be being primed here at least?
              Gotta keep those Big Tory Ullusions rolling along”

            • The disturbances by the industry will be here a lot longer than the next coming year if they get their way. Your priorities seem a bit out of skew if you are more concerned about the impact of protestors than the impact of the proposed industry on the area.

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