The Government has recently published draft provisions (sections 32 to 37) for the Infrastructure Bill 2014-15 that would allow persons to access deep level land, defined as land at 300 metres below the surface, for the purpose of exploiting shale gas, oil and geothermal energy, without the permission of the landowner. The provisions are intended to facilitate companies exploiting shale gas and other energy reserves by relieving them of the need to negotiate with potentially large numbers of surface landowners for permission to drill to or access reserves at deep level below the landowners’ land. Doing so without permission constitutes, at present, a trespass at common law. The Bill is currently in the House of Lords.
For more information, please contact Julian Johnstone, Partner in Druces LLP’s Property Litigation team.