Environmental Law ReSource

Type: Blogs

This post was written by Lynne Freeman, Nicholas Rock, Laura Riddeck

Key discussion points

  • Energy crisis and new “dash for gas” set to ignite UK shale market
  • Moratorium on exploration lifted
  • New industry guidance issued, UK and EU shale-specific legislation under consideration
  • Now is the time to “engage” and lobby for the regulation you want
  • Introduction

On 13 December 2012, the UK moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of shale gas was lifted. On 5 December 2012 the government published its Gas Generation Strategy paper. The two events are, we would suggest, closely connected.

On 19 February 2013 Alistair Buchanan, current head of Ofgem, the UK electricity regulator, articulated a stark vision of a Britain plunged into darkness, shorter working weeks and manufacturing shut downs as early as winter 2014 if urgent steps are not taken to address the country’s looming energy gap. As environmental regulations drive the shut-down of old fossil-fired plants, and a silver bullet of new nuclear remains mired in delay and arguments about the necessary level of subsidy; electricity generation capacity margins sit at their lowest levels since privatisation of the industry a generation ago. The misery of power cuts brought down at least two governments in the 1970s. The next general election in the UK is fixed for May 2015. If Mr Buchanan’s predictions are right and the weather is unkind, that could take place against a backdrop of one of the most miserable winters in recent memory.

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