A New Year reminder that one small step in the long process of obtaining consents for underground oil and gas working in England will be removed next week. 

From Monday 13 January 2014, if the relevant land is going to be used solely for underground operations, an applicant for planning permission for development that consists of the winning and working or oil or natural gas, including exploratory drilling, will no longer need to serve notice of the application on individual owners or tenants of the land to which the application relates. 

This will be welcome news to operators and shows a recognition by government of the impracticalities of identifying interests in land over large areas in the early stages of seeking the various consents needed. 

The relevant legislation is the Town and County Planning (Development Management Procedure and Section 62A Applications) (England) (Amendment No. 2) Order 2013 (SI 2013/3194), which amends parts of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2010 (SI 2010/2184).