British households should be given ownership of the oil and gas beneath their homes so that they have a commercial interest in supporting fracking, Boris Johnson is reported in the Telegraph as saying.
The Mayor of London said that the law should be changed so that “mineral rights” belonged to the landowner, rather than the Crown.
Currently, the Government grants licences to companies to explore for and produce oil and gas, while the owners of the land beneath which it lies have no right to share in the proceeds.
Mr Johnson said the arrangement was a historical anomaly that was fuelling opposition to fracking and causing “paralysis” in attempts to explore for shale oil and gas.
As a result, Britain’s hoped-for shale gas revolution had so far been “underwhelming to the point of absurdity”, he said.
“Give the British people their mineral rights, and get fracking at last,” he urged.
The comments put Mr Johnson at odds with Conservative ministers, who are currently preparing to change the law so that households cannot even prevent fracking taking place beneath their home – let alone dictate the commercial terms for exploration.
The Prime Minister has said Britain is going “all out for shale”, which the Government hopes will improve energy security and cut bills.
However, no fracking has taken place since a ban on the controversial practice was lifted in 2012 and there has been strong opposition from some communities.
Writing in the Telegraph on Monday, Mr Johnson says: “No landowner, large or small, has any automatic commercial interest in the discovery of shale gas beneath their property. No wonder the shires are in revolt against fracking.
“It is no surprise that everyone is a Nimby – or in this case, Numby – when they are told that what is under their back yard is not theirs, but belongs to the Queen!”
Whilst this is a typical Boris over exaggeration and he’s going off at a tangent, where shale gas is available and can be extracted cost-effectively and without presenting an unacceptable risk to the environment, it should be given serious and objective consideration.
Read the full article here.