Queen's speech to green light fracking on private land

An infrastructure and competitiveness bill to be announced in the Queen's speech today will change trespassing laws, allowing shale gas exploration firms to drill on private land without requiring the permission of the owner.

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The Queens speech marks the formal start of the parliamentary year and sets the proposed government agenda for the session, which will run from June 4.

What is fracking?

Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.

The process is carried out vertically or, more commonly, by drilling horizontally to the rock layer. The process can create new pathways to release gas or can be used to extend existing channels.

The fracking bill will allow companies to drill on private property without asking permission through reform of trespassing laws.

Shale gas extraction is not really popular with affected communities. Manchester saw hundreds rally in March demanding to ban the practice. Environmental activists are strongly opposed to the technique, which has already been proven to cause small earthquakes in the US. A number of studies have also revealed water pollution, and the practice has also been linked to health problems, including birth defects in unborn infants in the US.