The neighbouring authorities of Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council are producing new advice for developers about what to take into account when making a planning application to develop reserves of onshore oil and gas.
The three councils have announced their intention to prepare a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) on Onshore Oil and Gas Exploration, Production and Distribution.
It will outline how existing planning policies can be applied to developments for onshore oil and gas.
The document will also provide a useful reference for residents by explaining the planning and regulatory processes in place, and providing links to relevant sources of information.
The purpose of the SPD is not to change existing policies or add to them, but to give further clarity on how developers should seek to satisfy planning policies which are already in place when considering future applications.
The first stage of the process is to consult on what the Supplementary Planning Document should contain, and the councils are asking key stakeholders for their views from Friday 27 June to Friday 25 July with the intention of preparing a draft document for further consultation in the autumn.
Councillor Maureen Bateson, chair of the Joint Advisory Committee for Strategic Planning, said: “Our minerals planning policies are just one part of the regulation surrounding the onshore oil and gas industry, with the Environment Agency, the Department for Energy and Climate Change, and the Health and Safety Executive being the other key regulatory bodies.
“However, it’s a complex area and one of the key reasons for producing a Supplementary Planning Document is to help interested parties understand how it all fits together.
“The document does not add to or change any of our existing policies but is intended to give further clarity to developers who may be putting together applications on how to interpret our minerals development plan, and what they have to do to ensure their application meets its requirements.
“The purpose of the consultation is to seek feedback from other organisations with an interest in the subject about what they think should be the scope and general content of the SPD to ensure any issues are identified at the start of the drafting process.”
The SPD will refer to the Joint Lancashire Minerals and Waste Core Strategy and Site Allocation and Development Management Policies Local Plan, which are planning documents adopted jointly by Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. These documents contain policies setting out the criteria against which planning applications will be considered and allocates sites for the treatment of waste or extraction of minerals. The SPD will provide further guidance on how these policies can be applied to developments for onshore oil and gas exploration, production and distribution.
It is suggested that the Supplementary Planning Document will include:
• An introduction to the planning system and process, and the division of responsibilities within the wider regulatory process.
• An introduction to oil and gas processes, and links to relevant other sources of information.
• An illustration of the licenced oil and gas areas.
• A summary of the development plan and the most relevant planning policies.
• A description of the main phases of development and the main planning considerations associated with them.
• A description of the principal issues associated with oil and gas proposals, the land use planning objectives that are relevant, and the necessary supporting information.
It is proposed that there will be a further eight-week consultation on the Supplementary Planning Document during the autumn once a draft has been produced. The Joint Advisory Committee for Strategic Planning representing the three authorities will then consider a report before a decision is taken by the relevant executive member at each authority in early 2015 on whether to adopt the document.
You can respond to the consultation at www.lancashire.gov.uk/haveyoursay.