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. Well, here we have a gaggle-or giggle-of so called environmentalists who seek to:

    Justify arctic circle gas from Russia for the UK because that will be better for the environment than PNR!! Fact.

    Push us all to mining huge quantities of cobalt (carcinogen) to answer the electricity storage issue. When we have exploited all the reserves in DRC, killing many young kids in the process, we will have a go at the other 90% (estimated) reserves on the ocean floor. Not speculation-already underway. Fact.

    And then, to top it all off, we can ship oil halfway round the world on a daily basis and risk multiple Torrey Canyons rather than drill for our own under our own feet (WW2 may be over, but we have yet to fully recover what is there. Wressle?) Fact.

    If you were paid for that Jules, be ready to give a refund. You can find those facts Jules by simply re-visiting a few anti posts from previous days and weeks. I can understand why a cogent case may be a problem with that “previous” but you really need to address that to a few of the other antis.

    • By the look of it WW2 is not over yet?

      Does Exxon and their multiple subsidiaries still supply oil and fuel to all sides in these ongoing undeclared wars of perdition?

      You bet they are!

      Big oil and Gas WW3 started the day after Big Oil and Gas WW2 which started the day Big oil and Gas WW1 finished, and it ain’t over yet. The next ones a doozey!

      Such fun! Always a pleasure

  2. Electricity tonight:

    Coal relaxing maintenance time 9%, nuclear still having to go max 25%, gas 49% and well done wind you’ve broken the 3% barrier tonight

      • Kish, kish bang bang;

        ‘25%of UK electricity came from renewables  in 2016 — up from 7% in 2010’ a 357% increase; if renewable energy system had been deployed at the same rate would have 89% by 2022…

        Amount of UK shale gas to produce energy for UK homes in 2016 = 0 – no change from 2010.

        ‘$200 billion in US dollars were invested in renewable power in 2016.  That’s double the investment in fossil fuels’.

    • This is a genuine question as I don’t understand the workings of the National Grid, but I am aware that in our area we are able to generate far more solar than the grid takes, so is it not possible to utilise all the renewable sources first then top up with the dirtier sources as necessary? I’m looking for a National Grid for Dummies kind of answer.

  3. garages running out of lpg now…bloody brilliant seeing i run my van on lpg exclusively…come on theresa pull ya finger out and get that gas pumping out of the Weald basin!

    • I agree TW. I think what many have missed in the diversionary chatter is that the govt are NOT going to take it on as an infrastructure project, otherwise it would not have been needed to be put in the NPPF. And of course as there are no benefits the councils will be within their rights to refuse applications. Good news all round.

      [Typo edited at poster’s request]

  4. You forgot to mention the poor German guy heading the company wanting to open an open cast coal mine to service their coal fired units, John. Seems he was subjected to acid being flung over him by a couple of antis.
    Yes, certainly “amazing” how some can be so selective.

    • Your story is amazing Martin. You are quicker than the German police at establishing a motive for the acid attack. What are your sources? Intuition?

      In fact the victim was in charge of the renewable energy wing of the company.

  5. Kisheny-no official record of incident with England Rugby coach. Lots of things happen without being officially recorded. Some things are officially recorded which didn’t happen.

    My son works in the ambulance service and only records what is absolutely essential to avoid a never ending loop of paperwork.

    I suspect the ambulance saga might feature within some of the injunctions. If so, the Courts can look at the evidence and decide.

  6. And your point is, PhilipP?

    The domestic security agency suspects that the attack was connected to a long running battle between RWE and environmental activists.

    “A 52 square mile open mine for lignite, a low grade coal used for energy generation.”

    Great record in Germany!

    • Speculation in other words. That mine is the biggest in Europe yes, and while still active it is a historic legacy and a problem that the Germans are working to phase out in time. It has confronted local villages with all kinds of issues including the forced relocation of towns in its way. But whatever the attack was about your kind will always spin it as environmental activism.

  7. You mean “my kind” who look a little beyond John’s myopic post? Fortunately there are a lot of them. At least two thirds I’m lead to believe.

    Next, you will be telling us the German car industry are working to find means of contributing to the health systems around the world to refund the costs of poisoning their populations-in time. I won’t hold my breath-too late now.

    • Yeah, their car industry must share an interest with Oil and Gas. Oh, they do. But deception gets exposed in the long run. Big O&G is better at it though – has been playing that game for longer especially wrt emissions and climate change.

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