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European legislation and policies

European Recommendation 2014/70/EU on exploration and production of hydrocarbons (such as shale gas) using high-volume hydraulic fracturing
The recommendation aims to ensure that EU countries undertaking fracking implement proper safety and environmental safeguards. It suggests that an Environmental Impact Assessment is required for any stage of exploration and production that involves fracking (ie everything apart from simply confirming the geology of a site). Unlike Regulations and Directives, this Recommendation is not legally binding.

UK legislation

Petroleum Act 1998
Sets out rules for licences to search for and extract shale gas, coal bed methane and other forms of petroleum. New section 4A sets out special rules and safeguards for fracking consents, referred to as ‘hydraulic fracturing consents’ and ‘well consents’, but these apply only in England and Wales. (This new section was inserted into the Petroleum Act by section 50 of the Infrastructure Act 2015, which does not extend to Scotland.)
Coal Industry Act 1994, Part II
Applies to coal-mining operations, including the treatment of coal in the strata for the purpose of winning any product of coal, which covers underground coal gasification (UCG).
The Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and Construction, etc.) Regulations 1996
Despite their name, these regulations apply to onshore wells used for fracking, alongside certain offshore oil and gas drilling operations. The regulations set out requirements for well design, construction and safety.
The Borehole Sites and Operations Regulations 1995
Set health and safety requirements for operators of borehole sites, including wells drilled for fracking operations.

Legislation applying to England and Wales

Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011
Set out a procedure requiring environmental information to be taken into account when deciding planning applications for certain kinds of projects (referred to a 'EIA developments'). The procedure includes a requirement on the operator to produce an environmental statement, which must be consulted on. Not all stages of fracking projects will necessarily count as EIA developments that are covered by these regulations. This will depend on things like the amount of gas being extracted and the area of land covered by fracking operations.
Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010
Set the rules that apply to environmental permits. These include the procedures for considering applications, and detailed rules for protecting groundwater, assessing and approving chemicals to be injected into the ground and disposing of waste gases through flaring, amongst other things. The regulations transpose requirements of the Mining Waste Directive, Water Framework Directive, Groundwater Directive and Waste Framework Directive (and many more European directives).

Legislation applying to Scotland

Management of Extractive Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2010
Transposes the requirements of the Mining Waste Directive in Scotland. Applies to waste generated by the extraction of mineral resources including energy fuels, and requires operators to produce a waste management plan to the planning authority's satisfaction.
Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2011
Requires Environmental Impact Assessments to be produced and considered when deciding planning applications for certain kinds of projects. The criteria will not necessarily apply to all stages of unconventional gas projects. It will depend on things like the amount of gas being extracted and the area of land covered by operations.
Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011
Requires authorisation for any activity that affects the water environment. Contains detailed rules for protecting groundwater from pollution and over-abstraction and protecting the surface water environment from the effects of waste water disposal.
Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2012
Contains the regime for permits to prevent and control pollution from coal gasification and gas refining activities, and detailed rules for disposing of waste gases through flaring, amongst other things.

UK policies

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