UK Trespass Law May Be Axed To Clear Way For Shale Development

  • Date: 30/03/14
  • Jonathan Leake, The Sunday Times

Ministers are considering revoking the law of trespass so fracking companies can sink wells under land or properties even if the owner objects.

The change would allow fracking firms to drill sideways under land that does not belong to them in the search for shale gas and oil. The companies currently need permission from landowners — and many refuse.

Viscount Cowdray, one of Britain’s biggest landowners, has used the tactic to stop Celtique Energie drilling under his 16,500-acre estate on the South Downs, fearing that fracking, which involves blasting water, sand and chemicals at rock to release gas and oil, would generate pollution.

Greenpeace, which opposes fracking because it opens up sources of fossil fuel that could generate greenhouse gas, has encouraged other landowners to use similar tactics.

Energy companies faced with such refusals can ask Ed Davey, the energy secretary, to refer them to the High Court, which can force landowners to allow access, but this can take a year or more.

Full story (subscription required)