Fracking rules change bid as oil find revealed

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The Government has proposed new rules to simplify the granting of access for fracking.

They would see underground access for shale oil and gas developments allowed under 300 metres.

Under the proposals people living above ground would receive a voluntary payment of £20,000 per well.

Meanwhile a report by the British Geological Survey (BGS) has found there are an estimated 4.4 billion barrels of shale oil in vast parts of southern England.

The study of the Weald Basin, which stretches from Wiltshire to Kent, found there could be 2.2-8.5 billion barrels of shale oil.

The BGS stressed that these numbers are for resources and not reserves. Shale oil exploration in the US has only been able to access up to 10 per cent of the total oil.

By comparison to the Weald Basin figures, around 40 billion barrels of oil have already been extracted from the North Sea.

The study also found there is unlikely to be any shale gas potential in the area.

Robert Gatliff, director of energy and marine geoscience at the BGS, said: “It’s not a huge bonanza.

“But we have to see what happens and we won’t really know the answers until we have got some more drilling and testing.”

When asked if the findings were a let-down for the Government, Energy Minister Michael Fallon replied: “It’s not a let-down or a let-up. It is what it is.”