UK Government Set to Overturn Local Council Objections to Shale Drilling

Local councils in the north of England look set to lose their voice when it comes to objecting to unpopular shale gas drilling projects. The move prompted almost immediate change in the stock market, with shares of listed companies with a stake in the north of England’s untapped reserves rising by a quarter. 

It has been five years since the last onshore shale gas drilling project was abandoned near Blackpool after earth tremors were recorded. Since then the shale gas debate has raged between advocates and environmental groups.  

This decision is yet another example of the government’s willingness to push forward with controversial plans despite the protests of local communities. The Hinckley Point project was met with great opposition before finally being given the go ahead earlier this year.  

Others have greeted the government’s stance as a significant step forward for the industry, as well as benefitting the UK. “Shale gas has the potential to power economic growth, support 64,000 jobs and provide a new domestic energy source, making us less reliant on imports,” said Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.

It is estimated that there may be as much as 1.33 trillion cubic feet of shale gas untapped in central England alone.

Supporters of shale drilling also point out that onshore oil and gas production has been carried out in the UK for 150 years. Today, there are 120 sites still in operation — albeit modestly in comparison to that in the North Sea.

Many also argue that with the offshore drilling sector in decline and the UK being so heavily dependent on gas and power production from Russia and Qatar, why wouldn’t we back a UK shale gas industry?