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Infrastructure Bill to boost shale industry

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A wide-ranging Infrastructure Bill will include measures to encourage the nascent shale gas industry and to allow homes to meet zero carbon standards through investments in carbon reductions measures elsewhere.

It also transfers to the Land Registry responsibility for local land charges registers and delivery of searches.

The Cabinet Office said the bill would support the development the onshore oil, shale gas and geothermal energy industries by clarifying rules around underground access to sites, which are already subject to a consultation.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of industry body the UK Onshore Operators Group, said: “The proposed legislation will bring the onshore oil and gas and geothermal industries into line with other activities, such as mining and utilities, and will have no noticeable effect on the lives of home and property owners.”

The section of the bill on zero carbon homes reiterates that this standard must be met for new homes from 2016, but allows builders to mitigate emissions elsewhere if it is not technically feasible or cost effective to do this on-site.

This would mean a developer could, for example, build a home that did not itself meet the standard, but still meet it by paying into a fund that invests in approved carbon-saving projects.

The bill will also allow public land to be transferred directly from arms-length bodies to the Homes and Communities Agency, and makes a number of technical planning changes for nationally significant infrastructure projects.

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