Time is money.
The shale gas sector wants quicker planning decisions. Local Planning Authorities are chronically under resourced. How can the industry navigate a planning process which has integrity without offending the “fifth official” – the public?
The European Shale Gas and Oil Summit has seen many questions debated, but not many answers. Panel member, Claire Dutch (Hogan Lovells Planning Specialist), summarised the feeling of the room neatly: “Planners and promoters can expect a bumpy road ahead but the sector will get there. There may be call ins and judicial reviews along the way, but it will get there”?.
Should shale gas operators be able to opt for an NSIP (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project) decision? process with the certainty of time line (even if a long one)? Should Planning Performance Agreements (for promoters to fund Planning Authority’s consultant’s costs) be embraced or do they jeopardise the integrity of a decision? Views were split on these and other topics.
What is universal? The public needs to buy into the decision making and perhaps the industry more generally. It will be interesting to see how the sentiment lies when Hogan Lovells’ industry consultation results come in.