POS has formally responded to this consultation:
The Planning Officers Society (POS) welcomes the opportunity to comment on the "Revised requirements relating to planning applications for onshore oil and gas". Planning plays an important role in helping to achieve sustainable growth and the bringing forward of energy sources forms part of the national objective of delivering a secure and diverse energy supply. The POS views that this form of development, whilst similar in many ways to conventional oil and gas proposals, is currently associated with high public concern, particularly complex technical matters and a highly layered consenting regime. The planning consent process is pivotal in that regime and will be the fulcrum around which issues related to other regulators responsibilities are likely to be aired in the public decision arena. In this context the POS have the following observations.
Notice requirements - Given the high profile public interest in shale gas and the general lack of knowledge and experience of this type of development in this country the need to maintain high levels of communication with local communities is important, so the responsibility of the applicant should be maintained, especially in the early stages of exploration.
Fees - POS would ideally like to see the full extent of the development area be included in determining the fee. However, for practical purpose this may prove difficult. Nevertheless, POS feel that the nature of hydraulic fracturing, as set out above, will demand a disproportionate amount of time, money and expertise on the mineral planning authority that is not reflected in the fee levels suggested. Furthermore, in the context of the scale of tax incentives and proposed community benefits, it would be helpful if the mineral planning authority were adequately resourced through the fee to do justice to the decision making process that will have important consequences on local communities, shale gas companies and the national interest. The POS asks that CLG give serious consideration to the introduction of some form of graduated scale of fees.
Lonek Wojtulewicz | POS Minerals and Waste Forum Convener | e:email@example.com