Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy written question – answered on 20th May 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 10 April (HL15067), what assessment they have made of the potential liabilities for local authorities in the event that an operator and “other appropriate parties” do not decommission and return a fracking site to its former state.

Photo of Lord Henley Lord Henley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

There is no precedent for hydraulically fractured shale gas well decommissioning costs being borne by local authorities.

The Government has been clear that the responsibility for decommissioning lies with the licensee and has sought to reinforce this principle. For example, as set out in the Written Answer of 10 April (HL15067) that as part of the associated application for Hydraulic Fracturing Consent, the Government looks at the financial resilience of all companies wishing to carry out hydraulic fracturing operations, including their ability to fund decommissioning costs. My rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State will not issue Hydraulic Fracturing Consent unless he is satisfied this has been appropriately demonstrated.

In addition, Mineral Planning Authorities may require that bonds or other financial guarantees are taken to underpin a planning condition.

To date, there have only been two hydraulically fractured shale gas wells in the UK. The first, at Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall site in Lancashire, has been fully decommissioned and the land restored to its previous use. The second, Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road well-1z, is still operational.

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