What is fracking?
The process of drilling down and creating tiny explosions to shatter and crack hard shale rocks to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well. The process is carried out vertically or, more commonly, by drilling horizontally to the rock layer. The process can create new pathways to release gas or can be used to extend existing channels.
The following is information for those that may be concerned that Fracking is or may in the future take place in Dorset.
Licensing and Planning Permission for Onshore Oil and Gas (Fracking)
Onshore oil and gas operations are subject to a licensing system by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). DECC issues landward production licences to suitably qualified oil and gas companies under powers granted by the Petroleum Act 1998 on a rolling basis. These are called Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDLs) and they grant exclusivity to operators within a licence area. PEDLs confer the right to “search for, bore for and get” petroleum. This includes conventional oil and gas resources and unconventional resources such as shale gas. Each PEDL confers such rights over a limited area (licence block) and for a limited period.
The licences do not however give consent for drilling or any other operations which require planning permission. They do not confer any exemption from other legal/regulatory requirements, such as any need to gain access rights from landowners, health and safety regulations, or planning permission from the Mineral Planning Authority.
2. Planning permission
Within licensed areas, should a company wish to develop oil or gas resources it must apply to the Mineral Planning Authority for planning permission. There are three phases of oil and gas (including shale gas) development – exploration, appraisal and production. Each phase requires separate planning permission.
 Where this is required in accordance with the Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995, as amended.