Bringing fracking within the DCO regime

October 11, 2016

17:30 - 20:30

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The subject of what we hope will be a lively discussion will be whether or not the Government should bring the use of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, for the extraction of shale gas within the DCO regime.

The speakers include Catherine Howard and Charlotte Dyer of Herbert Smith Freehills and Mark Smith of Arup. They are all advising Cuadrilla in relation to its exploration proposals in Lancashire, and they attended the five-week planning inquiry held by PINS earlier this year. They are therefore well-placed to discuss their first-hand experiences of using the current TCPA regime for shale gas development and to give their views on whether changes are needed.

We expect the discussion to be centred around the following key questions:

What is fracking? Fracking is not new and has been used in the UK since 1947. We will discuss very briefly the background to fracking in the UK and why as a technique it is now so highly controversial.

How is it currently consented? We will look at the current consenting regime under the TCPA and the role of the local minerals authority as decision-maker in the first instance subject to the applicant’s right to appeal.

Why do some believe that this needs to change? We will explore the difficulties that the current TCPA regime has caused for applicants looking to promote applications in areas of huge local opposition and the costs and delays that are threatening the industry as a whole. In particular, we will discuss our experiences from Cuadrilla’s planning appeals and what we learnt from the conjoined inquiry.

What are the pros and cons of bringing it within the DCO regime? We will discuss the key benefits and disadvantages of bringing fracking into the DCO regime from the perspective of the applicant, the local minerals authority, statutory consultees and members of the public.

What stages should the DCO regime apply to? As for conventional techniques, fracking follows the following stages: exploration, appraisal and production. We will consider whether it is appropriate for all stages to be brought within the DCO regime or only the later stages.

How should it be brought into the DCO regime? There are several ways in which a project or type of project can be brought within the regime. We will consider which of these methods would be appropriate for fracking and what difficulties might be faced in making the necessary changes.


Contact: Shannon Dack

Tel: 020 7466 3582


Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Exchange House
Primrose Street