Infrastructure Act 2015: How operators can meet Section 50 requirements

04Aug / 2016

Infrastructure Act 2015: How operators can meet Section 50 requirements

The Infrastructure Act 2015 covers a wide range of planning and infrastructure regulation including energy development, transport and housing. It is the subject of some controversy due to the steps it took towards defining conditions for hydraulic fracturing. These steps simultaneously started to express what the safe development of shale requires, a move that has brought the value of GGS’ core service, continuous environmental monitoring, to the forefront of the industry.

Section 50 of the act in particular deals with hydraulic fracturing, defining it as more than 1000 cubic metres of fluid per stage, or more than 10 000 cubic metres of fluid in total. Additional conditions insist that soil and air monitoring be put in place before any development takes place.

 “The Secretary of State must not issue a well consent that is required by an onshore licence for England or Wales unless the well consent imposes:

  1. Appropriate arrangements have been made for the monitoring of emissions of methane into the air
  2. The level of methane in groundwater has, or will have, been monitored in the period of 12 months before the associated hydraulic fracturing begins

6 (a)     that appropriate arrangements have been made for the publication of the results of the monitoring referred to in condition 4 in the table”

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GGS concluded early on that spot-monitoring of ground gas lacked the scientific robustness required for such complex and nationally important projects. Having worked in the monitoring of UK shale gas for over half a decade, GGS used this experience to pioneer continuous ground gas monitoring techniques as the most effective way to safely monitor hydraulic fracturing.

By applying continuous monitoring, two key procedures are required to ensure safe shale development:

Action 1: Establish the baseline conditions for the site of hydraulic fracturing before any development takes place. It is invaluable in terms of understanding the environment before work commences.

Benefit: It cannot be presumed that the presence of ground gas on site is a direct result of industrial activity, but there is no proof without baseline monitoring. By applying this method, environmental safety is assured whilst the operator has met their regulatory obligations.

Action 2: Monitor changes to the baseline conditions over time using continuous-monitoring technologies and comparing the results with operational data.

Benefit: The continuous monitoring, sampling and laboratory testing of gases, if unaltered from the baseline conditions, will provide robust evidence that environmental management systems are working and no environmental damage has or is occurring.

GGS is the market leader in continuous ground gas monitoring technologies, offering cost-effective, time saving solutions to the onshore petroleum industry. Technology never stays still, and the company is excited at the prospect of taking our methods to the next level with the use of telemetry. This innovation will provide real time ground gas data with the prospect of even faster regulatory compliance and early recommendations on protection measures.

We are always ready to speak to existing and new clients about the potential our continuous-monitoring technologies have to make your work safer and more efficient. For information and quotes for onshore petroleum, landfill and contaminated land, head to our Contact page and get in touch.