Questions asked over proposal for fracking legislation

Angus M.P. Mike Weir.
Angus M.P. Mike Weir.

Local MP Mike Weir has challenged the UK Government’s “headlong rush” to support drilling for alternative oil and gas and the process of fracking.

Mr Weir’s comments were made during the recent Queen’s Speech debate in the House of Commons after the Government indicated that it is to bring forward legislation to encourage fracking. It will allow unrestricted access below properties without the consent of the property owner.

Mr Weir said: “I remain sceptical about the potential for fracking. The only large-scale use of the technology has been in the United States, and it has proved controversial even there. The geology and population density of the US is very different from the UK, making it a more difficult proposition.

“Much of central and eastern Scotland, including parts of Angus, are on the map of possible sites for unconventional oil and gas issued by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, who are in charge of the licensing regime.

“It does seem to me that we need to take a balanced, responsible and evidence-based approach listening to the concerns of communities and proceed with caution.”

Mr Weir also pointed out that the situation in Scotland is different from England and Wales both in property law and as the Scottish Parliament has control over planning and environmental consents for such drilling.

He continued: “Even if the UK government press ahead with this legislation it will not change the position that before drilling on land the licensee would have to obtain the consent of the landowner. It would mean, however, that once a well had been drilled they could go sideways, so to speak, through adjoining property at a depth of around one mile.

“Before they could do anything they would require planning permission and environmental consents. The Scottish Government has put in place strong planning rules to try and ensure the interests of local communities should any such applications be forthcoming.”