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Government plans launched to simplify deep drilling activities

Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has launched a consultation process for government about proposals to simplify the existing procedure for shale gas and deep geothermal underground drilling access.

According to Decc, the new proposals would simplify procedures which are costly time-consuming and disproportionate for new methods of underground drilling and benefit the local communities affected by the work.

Decc has said that acceptance of the new plans will enable oil, gas and deep geothermal companies will be able to explore potential resources and provide a voluntary community payment for access.

The proposals include underground right of access for shale gas and deep geothermal operations below 300m, a voluntary payment of £20,000 per lateral well and a clear notification system to alert local people to the planned project.

“Britain needs more home-grown energy and shale development will bring jobs and business opportunities,” said business and energy minister Michael Fallon. “We are keen for shale and geothermal exploration to go ahead while protecting residents through the robust regulation that is in place.

“These proposals allow shale and geothermal development while offering a fair deal for communities in return for underground access at depths so deep they will have no negative impact on landowners.”

Decc has emphasised that companies looking to exploit shale deposits or geothermal energy will still need to obtain the necessary permissions for extraction.

Consultation on the proposals is now open for the next 12 weeks and Decc will consider the feedback before government plans the next step.

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