Briefing 3: Shale Gas Governance: devolution and localism

Matthew Cotton, Adrian Gonzalez, Jennifer Dickie

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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- Unconventional hydrocarbon exploration and development (UHED) is considered as a matter of environmental governance – concerning the levels and scale of government, decision-making and policy mechanisms across the UK.
- Devolved Administrations have different powers and responsibilities towards UHED and have adopted different stances at different times.
- The UK Government adopted three distinct policy approaches. First, precaution after seismic activity was reported in 2012 following test drilling by Cuadrilla. Second was promotion when the Coalition and subsequent Conservative Governments developed supportive economic and regulatory policy instruments to support development. The third is abatement at the point where the potential future breach of seismic activity limits led to an effective moratorium on UHED.
- The promotion phase was supported by supply push mechanisms (to encourage development such as business rate recovery to local councils) and demand pull mechanisms (to encourage community uptake, including the Shale Wealth Fund and distribution of profits to local communities).
- Devolved administrations have now converged on a moratorium consensus, though the justification differs between component countries. The UK government relies upon technical justification (seismic activity), Scotland and Wales more strongly emphasise public opinion and consultation responses.
- Shale gas has been stuck between planning processes for Nationally Significant Infrastructure and local planning authority consents and democratic control at the most local level. The failure to capture the appropriate scale of shale gas planning hastened the demise of the industry.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWarwick
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2021


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