FOI Request - Moray Council Role - Fracking Applications

Request 101000287832

Can you please tell me what Moray Council`s role will be in the event that they receive requests for fracking and related drilling applications within Moray.

Response 17-10-2014

Extraction of onshore oil and gas can only take place within areas where the operator has obtained a license from the UK Government.  The map on the  GOV.UK website identifies existing license areas and those that have recently been offered up for license.  If someone obtains a license and wishes to proceed to exploration and production, then an application for planning permission would need to be submitted.  This application would be subject to the usual procedures in relation to environmental impact assessment, community engagement and consultation with relevant statutory consultees such as the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.  It would be considered on its merits and determined in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) at was strengthened in June 2014 to:

•       confirm that the concept of buffer zones should be applied to all onshore oil and gas proposals for the first time;

•       put in place an additional requirement for risk assessments to be prepared, using a source-pathway-receptor model, to ensure a transparent and evidence-based  approach to assessing whether proposed buffer zones are acceptable;

•       make explicit that buffer zones will be assessed by the planning authority and statutory consultees, with a strong expectation that planning permission should   be refused if they are unacceptable;

•       ensure that operators are upfront about their plans and that communities are consulted on all unconventional gas developments, including close involvement in the risk assessment process;

•       require a fresh planning application (and public consultation) if permission was not sought for hydraulic fracturing but developers subsequently intend to undertake this process.

There are no proposals which involve the use of fracking techniques in Scotland at this time.

The UK Government has recently consulted on proposals to remove the rights of landowners to refuse access to operators who wish to drill/frack at depths of 300m and greater beneath their land.  The Scottish Government has objected to these proposals whilst recognising that the UK Government's proposals do not impact on the need for operators to obtain all the relevant planning and other consents needed.  The full range of regulatory controls in place are set out in the Onshore oil and gas exploration in the UK: regulation and best practice publication.

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