The shale gas industry was warned today it must tackle the problem of who pays for decommissioning if the operator goes out of business.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) told an industry seminar that landowners would continue to have misgivings about fracking until the issue of liability for costs was resolved.
The CLA’s director of external affairs, Tom Bartosak-Harlow, said:
“As the industry does grow, they are going to struggle without finding a solution to this problem.
“The industry needs friends such as landowners.
“This will work much easier and much quicker if landowners are on side.
“Without a reassurance across the board that in all circumstances all costs will be covered, landowners will continue to have reservations about their involvement in fracking.”
Mr Bartosak-Harlow said the government had acknowledged that landowners could be liable for costs by default. The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy recently reported to a Public Accounts Committee investigation that regulators could pursue landowners for costs.
Mr Bartosak-Harlow said:
“I have sat in countless meetings with people in government and from the industry to discuss and to try and find a way forward with ministers and civil servants.
“We are yet to see a solution brought forward.”,
He said landowners thought in much longer terms than many businesses. They didn’t want their grandchildren to have problems that were the consequence of decisions taken today, he said.
But he added that many landowners saw business opportunities from renting land for shale gas development. He said:
“With the right protection in place, a greater number of landowners will be willing to take part in the future as the industry grows providing business opportunities for them and also providing shale gas operators with more sites and the industry will grow.”
- Bartosak-Harlow was speaking at the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum keynote seminar on Unconventional oil and gas market in the UK – planning changes, environmental regulation and tackling the scale-up challenges