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Infrastructure Act 2015

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This is the original version (as it was originally enacted).

50Onshore hydraulic fracturing: safeguards

This section has no associated Explanatory Notes

After section 4 of the Petroleum Act 1998 insert—

4AOnshore hydraulic fracturing: safeguards

(1)The Secretary of State must not issue a well consent that is required by an onshore licence for England or Wales unless the well consent imposes—

(a)a condition which prohibits associated hydraulic fracturing from taking place in land at a depth of less than 1000 metres; and

(b)a condition which prohibits associated hydraulic fracturing from taking place in land at a depth of 1000 metres or more unless the licensee has the Secretary of State’s consent for it to take place (a “hydraulic fracturing consent”).

(2)A hydraulic fracturing consent is not to be issued unless an application for its issue is made by, or on behalf of, the licensee.

(3)Where an application is made, the Secretary of State may not issue a hydraulic fracturing consent unless the Secretary of State—

(a)is satisfied that—

(i)the conditions in column 1 of the following table are met, and

(ii)the conditions in subsection (6) are met, and

(b)is otherwise satisfied that it is appropriate to issue the consent.

(4)The existence of a document of the kind mentioned in column 2 of the table in this section is sufficient for the Secretary of State to be satisfied that the condition to which that document relates is met.

(5)But the absence of such a document does not prevent the Secretary of State from being satisfied that that condition is met.

Column 1: conditionsColumn 2: documents
1The environmental impact of the development which includes the relevant well has been taken into account by the local planning authorityA notice given by the local planning authority that the environmental information was taken into account in deciding to grant the relevant planning permission
2Appropriate arrangements have been made for the independent inspection of the integrity of the relevant well

A certificate given by the Health and Safety Executive that it

(a)

has received a well notification under regulation 6 of the Borehole Sites and Operations Regulations 1995,

(b)

has received the information required by regulation 19 of the Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and Construction, etc.) Regulations 1996, and

(c)

has visited the site of the relevant well

3The level of methane in groundwater has, or will have, been monitored in the period of 12 months before the associated hydraulic fracturing beginsAn environmental permit has been given by the relevant environmental regulator which contains a condition that requires compliance with a waste management plan which provides for monitoring of the level of methane in groundwater in the period of 12 months before the associated hydraulic fracturing begins
4Appropriate arrangements have been made for the monitoring of emissions of methane into the airAn environmental permit which contains a condition requiring compliance with a waste management plan which provides for the monitoring of emissions of methane into the air for the period of the permit
5The associated hydraulic fracturing will not take place within protected groundwater source areasA decision document given by the relevant environmental regulator (in connection with an environmental permit) which indicates that the associated hydraulic fracturing will not take place within protected groundwater source areas
6The associated hydraulic fracturing will not take place within other protected areasA notice given by the local planning authority that the area in respect of which the relevant planning permission has been granted does not include any land which is within any other protected areas
7

In considering an application for the relevant planning permission, the local planning authority has (where material) taken into account the cumulative effects of—

(a)

that application, and

(b)

other applications relating to exploitation of onshore petroleum obtainable by hydraulic fracturing

A notice given by the local planning authority that it has taken into account those cumulative effects
8

The substances used, or expected to be used, in associated hydraulic fracturing—

(a)

are approved, or

(b)

are subject to approval,

by the relevant environmental regulator

An environmental permit has been given by the relevant environmental regulator which contains a condition that requires substances used in associated hydraulic fracturing to be approved by that regulator
9In considering an application for the relevant planning permission, the local planning authority has considered whether to impose a restoration condition in relation to that developmentA notice given by the local planning authority that it has considered whether to impose such a condition
10The relevant undertaker has been consulted before grant of the relevant planning permissionA notice given by the local planning authority that the relevant undertaker has been consulted
11The public was given notice of the application for the relevant planning permissionA notice given by the local planning authority which confirms that the applicant for the relevant planning permission has certified that public notification requirements, as set out in a development order, have been met

(6)The conditions mentioned in subsection (3)(a)(ii) are—

(a)that appropriate arrangements have been made for the publication of the results of the monitoring referred to in condition 4 in the table;

(b)that a scheme is in place to provide financial or other benefit for the local area.

(7)A hydraulic fracturing consent may be issued subject to any conditions which the Secretary of State thinks appropriate.

(8)A breach of such a condition is to be treated as if it were a breach of a condition of a well consent.

4BSection 4A: supplementary provision

(1)“Associated hydraulic fracturing” means hydraulic fracturing of shale or strata encased in shale which—

(a)is carried out in connection with the use of the relevant well to search or bore for or get petroleum, and

(b)involves, or is expected to involve, the injection of—

(i)more than 1,000 cubic metres of fluid at each stage, or expected stage, of the hydraulic fracturing, or

(ii)more than 10,000 cubic metres of fluid in total.

(2)For the purposes of deciding the depth at which associated hydraulic fracturing is taking place in land—

(a)the depth of a point in land below surface level is the distance between that point and the surface of the land vertically above that point; and

(b)in determining what is the surface of the land, any building or other structure on the land, and any water covering the land, must be ignored.

(3)Subsections (1) and (2) apply for the purposes of section 4A and this section.

(4)The Secretary of State must, by regulations made by statutory instrument, specify—

(a)the descriptions of areas which are “protected groundwater source areas”, and

(b)the descriptions of areas which are “other protected areas”,

for the purposes of section 4A.

(5)A statutory instrument which contains regulations under subsection (4) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(6)The Secretary of State must lay a draft of the first such regulations before each House of Parliament on or before 31 July 2015.

(7)The Secretary of State must consult—

(a)the Environment Agency before making any regulations under subsection (4)(a) in relation to England;

(b)the Natural Resources Body for Wales before making any regulations under subsection (4)(a) in relation to Wales.

(8)These expressions have the meanings given—

  • “development order” has the meaning given in section 59 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990;

  • “environmental permit” means a permit granted under regulation 13 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010;

  • “hydraulic fracturing consent” has the meaning given in subsection (1)(b);

  • “licensee” means the holder of the onshore licence for England or Wales;

  • “local planning authority” means—

    (a)

    the planning authority to which the application for the relevant planning permission was made (unless the Secretary of State or Welsh Ministers are responsible for determining the application), or

    (b)

    the Secretary of State or Welsh Ministers (if responsible for determining the application);

  • “onshore licence for England or Wales” means a licence granted under section 3 which authorises a person to search or bore for or get petroleum in those parts of the landward area (within the meaning of the Petroleum Licensing (Exploration and Production) (Landward Areas) Regulations 2014) that are in England or Wales or are beneath waters (other than waters adjacent to Scotland);

  • “relevant environmental regulator” means—

    (a)

    the Environment Agency, if the relevant well is situated in England, or

    (b)

    the Natural Resources Body for Wales, if the relevant well is situated in Wales;

  • “relevant planning permission” means planning permission to be granted, or granted, in respect of development which includes the relevant well;

  • “relevant undertaker” means the water undertaker or sewerage undertaker in whose area of appointment the relevant well is located;

  • “relevant well” means the well to which a well consent relates;

  • “well consent” means a consent in writing of the Secretary of State to the commencement of drilling of a well.

(9)The power of the Secretary of State to make regulations under section 4 includes power to make such amendments of the definition of “onshore licence for England or Wales” in this section as the Secretary of State considers appropriate in consequence of any other exercise of the power under section 4.

(10)The Secretary of State may, by regulations made by statutory instrument—

(a)make such amendments of column 2 of the table in section 4A as the Secretary of State considers appropriate, and

(b)make such other amendments of section 4A or this section as the Secretary of State considers appropriate in consequence of provision made under paragraph (a).

(11)A statutory instrument which contains regulations under subsection (10) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

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