The industry-funded Task Force on Shale Gas has called for an overhaul of regulations affecting the nascent fracking (hydraulic fracturing) industry in the UK in its First Interim Report, published on 25 March 2015.

The Task Force has criticised the existing regulatory framework as “unapproachable” and overly complex, as it involves numerous government departments such as the Health and Safety Executive, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Environment Agency. However, the government has defended the existing system, calling it one of the most robust in the world, to the BBC.

The task force also hopes that a new regulator could dispel some of the controversy that surrounds fracking in the eyes of the public. The report says that the existing framework does not command the necessary levels of public confidence. For all the noise surrounding fracking, no wells have been commercially fracked in Britain at this time. The report places great emphasis on local community relations, and the consultation process that should be adopted when planning is undertaken.

The Chair of the Task Force, Lord Smith, also said that he is very sceptical of the prospects of fracking for shale oil in the UK, which has more serious environmental implications than fracking for shale gas and is more difficult to extract.

It is hoped that a new, single regulator and improved public relations will boost confidence in fracking, and could see the industry hit its stride in the next decade. It is hoped that legislation will follow the election in May, so watch this space for updates!