Regulations under the Town and Country Planning Act that will make water companies statutory consultees for fracking were laid before Parliament last week and are due to come into force in mid-April.
The UK water industry has been successful in securing these measures, to protect water resources from the potential risks of shale oil and gas extraction.
The three key reasons for having water companies as statutory consultees are:
- to ensure that water companies are involved early in the planning process, so they can work with operators to develop solutions that will work for all stakeholders – and satisfy their regulatory duties;
- to enhance public confidence by demonstrating that impacts on drinking water and drinking water sources will be fully taken into account; and
- that the existing Water UK and UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG) Memorandum of Understanding, while a model of good practice, has no legal status and no real consequences if not complied with, and in any event only applies to current members of UKOOG.
Water UK and our members have consistently taken a neutral stance on the development of shale and other unconventional oil and gas reserves in the UK.
We acknowledge the risks of the country’s growing dependence on imported gas and recognise the arguments for government policy on the extraction of unconventional oil and gas.
We also acknowledge that there are inherent risks associated with any activity of this type and scale which need to be fully understood, regulated and mitigated.