Fracking firms could drill under homes without telling the owners: Green groups’ fury over horizontal drilling plans by Rob Davies, September 4, 2013, The Daily Mail
Companies will be allowed to ‘frack’ for shale gas underneath people’s homes without telling them, if government proposals go ahead. Shale gas firms drill straight down into the earth before redirecting their drills horizontally over a wide area to maximise the amount of gas they can collect.The plans, which would make it easier for companies to drill for miles underground, met with fury from green campaign groups and locals in the Sussex village of Balcombe who say fracking has made their lives a misery. Juliette Harris said water from her taps at home was coming out brown, adding that noise from Cuadrilla’s early activity was already ‘unbearable’.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said it was ‘unreasonable and impractical’ to expect companies to warn all those whose homes might sit above one of its wells. The DCLG said anyone living near proposed above-ground facilities would still be notified. But it said there was no need to tell people if firms planned to drill beneath their property because gas reserves are more than 1,000 metres below ground. Miss Harris said the DCLG’s plans would heap more misery on locals. ‘They’ve got pound notes in their eyes and a government that used to champion the countryside is just throwing it away,’ she added. ‘The fact they can then go horizontally under your house and you have no say is compounding the way this government is trying to bulldoze through this policy without any care and attention to us as residents.’ I’m a lifelong Conservative voter, my family are, but I cannot understand what this government is doing.’ Mr Osborne pointed out that communities where fracking is to occur have been offered a £100,000 incentive and 1 per cent of future revenues.
A Friends of the Earth spokesman said: ‘It’s astonishing that ministers want to end people’s right to be notified about plans to drill for gas and oil under their homes. … Plans to revise the oil and gas planning regime came as Cuadrilla withdrew its own planning application, admitting it had not consulted people living above areas where it wants to drill. A company spokesman said it was ‘coincidence’ that Cuadrilla withdrew its planning application 24 hours after it emerged that the Government might change the rules. It is expected to resubmit its application, potentially delaying operations in Balcombe. [Emphasis added]