Scottish Government extends Central Belt fracking licence
Commenting on the news that the Scottish Government has extended the initial term of PEDL162, a license owed by INEOS and Reach CSG and earmarked for fracking covering 400km2 in the central belt, for 1 year, Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Head of Campaigns Mary Church said:
“Extending this license risks adding to the confusion caused by INEOS’s recent legal challenge, and only increases the pressure on the Scottish Government to move forward with its decision making process, legislate to ban fracking and draw a line under this issue for good.
“It is disappointing that the Scottish Government has opted to extend the license that was due to expire last month, when people locally and nationally have said no to fracking so clearly. The operators have already had one extension to this license and despite having consents in place before the moratorium on fracking, they hadn’t fulfilled their drilling commitments, so clearly this license should have been revoked.
“While it is unlikely that the operators will be able to do much in terms of advancing their shale gas ambitions in 12 months, it is an uncomfortable position for the Scottish Government to take given its opposition to fracking.”
Notes to Editors
- PEDL162 was acquired by Reach CSG in 2008 https://itportal.ogauthority.co.uk/eng/fox/oga-report/PED300X/onshore-licence/?LICENCE_TYPE=PEDL&LICENCE_NO=162 . The company got planning permission for exploratory extraction of coalbed methane in 2011, and an accompanying permit from SEPA, some time before the moratorium on onshore oil and gas extraction was put in place in January 2015 https://eplanning.northlanarkshire.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=dates&keyVal=LJY9F1BAJE000 . INEOS bought an 80% stake in the license in October 2014 https://www.ineos.com/news/ineos-group/ineos-acquire-majority-interest-in-pedl-162/. Planning permission for the well expired in 2016 with no drilling having taken place, and a 2014 application to extend planning permission having been withdrawn https://eplanning.northlanarkshire.gov.uk/online-applications/simpleSearchResults.do?action=firstPage. The initial term of the license was due to expire in 2014 and was extended by the UK Government to 30 June 2018. The ‘drill or drop’ terms of the license state that the operator is required to drill one well during the initial phase, or allow the license to automatically cease. View PEDL162 at https://itportal.ogauthority.co.uk/web_files/recent_licences/oglicences.htm.
- Powers over onshore oil and gas licensing were devolved to the Scottish Government under sections 47-49 of the Scotland Act 2016 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2016/11/contents/enacted. The powers were transferred on 9 February 2018, giving Scottish Ministers the authority over existing and future licensing https://www.gov.uk/government/news/powers-over-onshore-oil-gas-licensing-regimes-transfer-to-scottish-parliament.
- Under the ongoing moratorium on unconventional onshore oil and gas extraction, the operators, INEOS and Reach CSG could undertake seismic surveying and core sampling, in the areas under license, including PEDL 162 and neighbouring PEDL 133. However, any applications to drill or frack for shale gas or coalbed methane would be determined by Scottish Ministers, who are unlikely to approve them given their position of no support for fracking.
- INEOS and Reach CSG lost a judicial review against the Scottish Government regarding its ‘effective ban’ on fracking. Lord Pentland’s decision was handed down on 19 June, and threw out INEOS’s petition on the grounds that there was no legally enforceable ban on fracking in place. The Scottish Government is currently undertaking a Strategic Environmental Assessment and a Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment of its position on fracking before coming to a final decision. INEOS and Reach have 21 days to appeal Lord Pentland’s decision. https://foe.scot/press-release/ineos-lose-scottish-fracking-ban-challenge/
- Friends of the Earth Scotland is
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.