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Northern Ireland Government Review of Permitted Development Rights for Mineral Extraction

In 2016 the Geological Society responded to a Northern Ireland Department of Environment Call for Evidence on the Permitted Development Rights for Mineral Extraction. Following on from that consutlation, the Northern Ireland Government published a Review of the Permitted Development Rights for Mineral Exploration which set out proposals for amending permited development rights. Details of the consulation can be found on the government website.

The submission produced by the Geological Society can be found below:

Submitted 3 February 2017

The Geological Society (GSL) is the UK’s learned and professional body for geoscience, with about 12,000 Fellows (members) worldwide. The Fellowship encompasses those working in industry, academia, regulatory agencies and government with a broad range of perspectives on policy-relevant science, and the Society is a leading communicator of this science to government bodies, those in education, and other non-technical audiences.

Question 1: Do you agree that permitted development rights should be removed for petroleum exploration?


Question 2: If so, do you consider that the removal of permitted development rights for mineral exploration for petroleum should be brought forward by Option 1 or Option 2?

Option 2. We agree that removing permitted development rights for the drilling of boreholes for petroleum exploration and requiring a submission to the local council would be valuable in allowing more time for consideration to the process and improve public confidence in the planning process for petroleum exploration and development.

We also agree with the proposal to continue plans to allow permitted development rights for development work that is preparatory to petroleum exploration, such as seismic and other geophysical surveys, and the drilling of boreholes for baseline studies, such as groundwater investigation and seismic monitoring. Preparatory work of this kind is important in informing subsequent decision-making about petroleum exploration and production, and is essential if the public are to have confidence in decisions reached an in any resultant operational work. Widespread public concern over shale gas and oil has sometimes resulted in blanket opposition to borehole investigations of all kinds on the part of local communities, irrespective of its purpose and impacts, which may be exacerbated by ineffective communication on the part of some operators. Separating the planning regulation required for this preliminary investigation and monitoring from that of drilling boreholes for petroleum exploration is a sensible way to retain appropriately stringent planning regulation, while also allowing important preparatory and monitoring work to go ahead.

Question 3: Do you agree that a height restriction of 15 metres for any structure assembled or provided under Part 16 should be introduced?


Question 4: Do you agree that the 21 day timescale under Article 7 of the Planning (General Permitted Development) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015 should be increased to 28 days?


Question 5: Do you agree that a “relevant period” should be introduced to Part 16 of the Schedule to the Planning (General Permitted Development) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015?