Gas extraction in Knowsley

Knowsley Council opposes fracking due to environmental concerns and lack of economic benefits. The government supports fracking and has issued exploration licences. Find out more here


Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is a method of extracting gas and oil from rock deep underground. In Knowsley, the rock is called Bowland shale.

Knowsley Council's opposition to fracking

The council agreed a motion in September 2015 opposing fracking and other unconventional gas extraction methods in Knowsley and surrounding areas.

Knowsley Council is opposed to fracking and other unconventional gas extraction methods because:

  • The processes have not been proven to be safe.
  • The potential negative impacts on health and the environment have not been fully addressed.
  • There is no evidence of economic benefits of fracking.

Government's stance on fracking

The Government supports exploring the potential of shale gas, via methods such as fracking. They have issued licenses for companies to explore for shale gas in different areas of the country, including Knowsley.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has issued licences for companies to begin exploring sites across the country for shale gas. In 2015, the Government set up an Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) to oversee oil and gas licensing and development including shale.

Potential for fracking in Knowsley

There is shale rock approximately 1,000 meters beneath Knowsley that is potentially gas-bearing. The full potential of the area is not yet known.

An area in the north of the borough, near Tower Hill in Kirkby, is within one of the exploration blocks awarded by the Government in the recent licensing round.

Uncertainty of fracking in Knowsley

The award of these licenses by the Government does not automatically mean that exploration or drilling for shale gas and/or oil can begin.

Knowsley Council's authority over fracking applications

Knowsley's Planning Committee can reject any application for fracking if it considers it does not meet national legislation and planning rules.

Planning Committee must consider any application on its merits and the following issues are likely to be of particular relevance to shale gas and/or oil planning applications:

  • Noise
  • Dust
  • Air quality
  • Lighting
  • Visual intrusion
  • Landscape character
  • Archaeological and heritage features
  • Traffic
  • Risk of contamination of the land
  • Soil resources
  • The impact on agricultural land
  • Flood risk
  • Land stability/subsidence
  • Internationally, nationally and locally designated sites and species for nature conservation and biodiversity
  • Nationally protected geological and geomorphological sites and features
  • Plans for site restoration and aftercare
  • Cumulative or in-combination effects

These are some of the main issues and material considerations, alongside national and local policy, upon which the Planning Committee can base its decision whether to grant planning permission, regardless of the council’s opposition to fracking in principle.

Planning applications for fracking in Knowsley

To date, Knowsley Council has not received any planning applications from companies wishing to carry out investigations, testing, or fracking for shale gas and/or oil in Knowsley.

Finding out about fracking planning applications

You can look at all planning applications submitted to Knowsley Council on the planning section of their website. You can also read the agendas and related reports for meetings of the Planning Committee in this section.

Additional information

  • For more information on the Government's stance on fracking, please visit the Department of Energy and Climate Change website.
  • For more information on the Oil and Gas Authority, please visit their website.
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