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The planning process for fracking

The normal planning process has to be followed for planning applications for fracking. Planning permission is required from our planning committee for each stage.

There are usually three main stages which require planning permission.

Stage 1 − Exploration

This involves building a drilling rig and drilling vertically, deep into the ground to find out how much gas is in the shale. This does not involve fracking.

Stage 2 − Appraisal

This involves using the rig to carry out test fracking to see how the gas flows out of the shale.

Stage 3 − Production

This involves applying for planning permission to set up a full-time commercial fracking operation. If the company gained planning permission, these works would take several years to complete.

The company will need to show how it has carefully considered the impacts and practical issues about how the site will operate and how it will affect the local area. This includes full and proper consideration of a range of issues including:

  • lighting, dust, smells and noise
  • operating hours of the site
  • lorry access and routes
  • flood risk
  • site restoration and aftercare once the works have been completed

Firms wishing to carry out fracking also have to get the relevant licences and approvals from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) under the Petroleum Act; the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive.

Our planning committee considers each planning application on its individual merits and is impartial. As with any other planning application, each planning decision it makes is based on objective analysis of evidence, local and national planning policies and the relevant comments of official consultees, such as parish councils and the public.

Guidance has been issued to councillors by the Local Government Association’s Planning Advisory Service on handling planning applications for the various stages of the fracking process. This includes the types of issues they must consider when making a decision and those which they cannot. The guidance is attached to this page.

We always advertise applications and invite written comments. Members of the public have the opportunity to present their case in person at the planning committee meeting.

If the planning committee decides to refuse planning permission for any application there is a right of appeal.

Find out more about how you can have your say about fracking.