Fracking planning process would be 'vigorous' says Cumbria County Council

ENERGY companies seeking to extract shale gas from under South Lakeland would have to go through a ‘rigorous’ planning process, Cumbria County Council has warned.

The authority signalled an uncompromising attitude following fears the area could be exploited for shale gas extraction using the controversial fracking process.

Last week, it was revealed in a Government-commissioned report that the controversial drilling process could be carried out in South Lakeland and north Lancashire, prompting fierce local opposition.

Fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals into shale rock, fracturing it to release gas that has been trapped for millions of years. A key concern follows claims that the process can cause earthquakes. The council said it would ‘carefully consider the possible implications’ for the county.

A spokesman said: “The geology of Cumbria is complex. Any future proposal for extraction in Cumbria would be subject to a rigorous assessment through the normal planning process. As well as requiring a Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), any operator wanting to carry out extraction would have to submit a planning application to the county council for testing, drilling and production of shale oil and gas or coal bed methane.”

Meanwhile, homeowners in parts of South Lakeland have begun receiving Land Registry letters prompted by landowners seeking to assert ancient manorial rights which could see them benefit financially from any shale gas extraction.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron admitted the timing of the letters ‘might be coincidental’, but said it caused ‘deep concern’ among those who fear that fracking for shale gas could be carried out underneath their homes.

Mr Farron said: “Shale gas is a fossil fuel, and given that we should be aiming to reduce carbon emissions it would be very wrong to now open up another source of carbon to meet our short term energy needs – especially given the enormous and untapped opportunities in tidal energy.

“To consider fracking in South Lakeland would be especially wrong given that we have some of the most important landscape in the country here. I’m also concerned about the uncertainties over the potential geological impact.

“To drill for shale gas here would be staggeringly damaging and short-sighted, and we would all be left to live with the consequences.”


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