European Parliament introduced obligatory environmental impact assessment for shale gas projects

On 9 of October, 2013 European Parliament amended EU Directive on environmental impact assessment and introduced  obligatory environmental impact assessment for all unconventional hydrocarbons extraction projects at the territory of European Union.

Current legislation covers natural gas projects that extract at least 500,000 cubic metres each day. Many shale gas projects yield less, due to the rock fracturing process, and hence are not subject to an impact assessment requirement. MEPs want this requirement to be mandatory, whatever the quantity extracted, for all exploration and exploitation of non-conventional hydrocarbons (shale gas and oil, coal gas, etc.), including shale gas projects, for the phase in which the hydraulic fracturing technique is used.

The proposal includes measures aiming to prevent conflicts of interest between developers and people carrying out studies. MEPs’ amendments seek to ensure that experts have the necessary qualifications, experience and technical skills. They must be able to work in a scientifically objective fashion, independently of the developer or the public authorities themselves, says the text.

MEPs also propose measures to ensure that the public is informed and consulted.