“Talking Fracking” is the Scottish Government’s consultation on unconventional oil and gas extraction (website). 31 May is the deadline for responses.

It’s an open discussion – the consultation does not set out or advocate a preferred Scottish Government position or policy.

The consultation includes coal bed methane, as well as hydraulic facturing (fracking). The Dart Energy CBM appeal remains undecided, because of the Scottish Government moratorium.

Issues raised in the consultation include:

  • Community impacts – most deposits are in Scotland’s central belt, which are amongst the most densely populated parts of the country.
  • Economic implications – unconventional oil and gas has had a major impact on manufacturing and energy in North America
  • Environmental considerations – as with any industrial process, if not appropriately undertaken and controlled, it could result in adverse environmental impacts.
  • Regulatory framework – largely in place, but there are potential gaps to fill.

The planning process has been endorsed in a recent decision by the English High Court, upholding the planning permission for fracking at Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire.

The judge held that an assessment of the environmental impacts of burning the gas at an offsite power station, after exporting from the well site, was not required. She also held that the council had properly applied the provisions of the PPG in deciding not to require Third Energy to provide a financial bond, and to conclude that the financing of restoration and aftercare would instead be dealt with adequately by planning permission conditions.