Department for Energy and Climate Change written question – answered on 2nd July 2015.

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Photo of Mark Menzies Mark Menzies Conservative, Fylde

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, if she will introduce a more stringent monitoring regime for abandoned shale gas wells.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

There is a robust and long established regulatory regime in place covering all wells and boreholes throughout their lifecycle, including abandonment. When operations finish, the operator is responsible for safe decommissioning of the well. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) scrutinises the design of all wells prior to any construction taking place. It also monitors well construction based on weekly reports to its well specialists and scrutinises the decommissioning process in the same way.

The environmental permit requires the operator to have in place a closure and rehabilitation plan, which should follow the Environment Agency’s (EA) good practice for decommissioning boreholes and wells. The EA will not allow the operator to surrender their permit until it is satisfied that pollution has not occurred at a site. The HSE and EA have a working together agreement, committing to jointly inspect and sharing information on sites where hydraulic fracturing is taking place.

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