New Fracking Rules Expected In Queen's Speech

Ministers Want To Give Energy Firms The Right To Frack Under Private Land Without Permission


David Shirt, Press Officer | 0161 838 3094

The Queen’s Speech in June is expected to include proposals which will allow energy companies to run shale gas pipelines under private land.

According to the BBC, the measures are expected to be included in the Infrastructure Bill and will change trespass laws, allowing companies to drill in return for compensation to landowners.

Although companies will still need planning permission to drill for shale gas, they will be able to install pipes to transport the gas under private land without fear of breaking trespass laws.

The latest move is believed to driven by concern amongst Government ministers that current laws would be used by landowners and anti-fracking protesters to block shale gas extraction and deter future investment.

The Government has previously said that it supports shale gas fracking and confirmed that it wants to look at ways to make test drilling easier. Opponents however argue that it is dangerous and can cause air and water pollution.

The potential economic benefits of fracking will be discussed at a conference in Blackpool tomorrow (24 April).

Expert Opinion
In my article in October on the contentious issue of fracking, I stated that given the much talked-about energy crisis and huge financial gains of fracking, it is likely that the Government would introduce legislation to stop such trespass actions preventing activity at a deep enough level to avoid damage to the surface.

“It is now being suggested that the Queen will include proposals for new legislation as part her speech in June.

“Rumours abound that a new Infrastructure Bill will be proposed to kick start the fracking revolution. Whilst we await full details of the proposals it is likely that the bill will permit horizontal drilling beneath private land without such action constituting an actionable trespass. It is likely that the land owner will be able to claim compensation.

“This will be a major change in the law of trespass and whether the proposed bill will get through parliament before the General Election in 2015 is questionable. However with the energy crisis continuing to loom and problems around the world such as the Russian/Ukraine crisis threatening oil and gas prices, such legislation is likely to proceed quickly in my view.”
Christopher Perrin, Partner