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Change in the law positive news for “fracking” companies – but what about landowners?

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Ministers want to give energy companies the right to install shale gas pipes under private land without breaking trespass laws.

But the planned move – aimed at kick-starting the fracking industry – is fraught with concerns for landowners in affected areas, according to agricultural law expert Andrew Fearn.

Andrew, a partner at Langleys Solicitors, said:

“While the new legislation will exempt developers from the law of trespass, it also gives landowners the right to compensation.

“So on the face of it, it could be a win-win situation for both parties.

“However, landowners are likely to feel disenchanted at the very least with what is in effect, a statutory removal of their proprietary rights.”

The planned move will be included in the Queen’s Speech on 3 June as part of an Infrastructure Bill.

The companies will still need planning permission to drill for shale gas.

But they will be able to install pipes to transport the gas under private land without fear of breaking trespass laws.

Before the 20th Century it was assumed a land owner’s rights extended from the centre of the earth to the top of the sky.

But a series of key court cases have challenged that notion.

He added:

“What is certain is that fracking continues to walk hand in hand with controversy and I expect it will be the case for a long time to come.”

Andrew Fearn
Andrew Fearn

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