The extraction of shale gas poses potential risks to groundwater reserves, for example through contamination with chemicals used in the fracking process. However, the Infrastructure Act, passed last month, will help mitigate these risks. It states that water companies will need to be consulted for all planning applications involving the boring for, or getting of, oil and natural gas from shale.
By being involved early in the planning process, water companies can work with shale gas operators to identify any risks and assess the impacts on drinking water sources.
It is vital that the Government now makes the necessary changes through secondary legislation under the Town and Country Planning Act to incorporate water companies being statutory consultees into planning requirements, before the end of this Parliament.