Calls to change trespass law to boost fracking

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Ministers want to give energy companies the right to run shale gas pipelines under private land, Whitehall sources have confirmed.

The planned move will aim to kick-start the fracking industry and will be included in the Queen’s Speech as part of an Infrastructure Bill. The companies will still need planning permission to drill for shale gas but they will be able to install pipes to transport the gas under private land without fear of breaking trespass laws.

Prime Minister David Cameron has also indicated that the government could cut subsidies for land-based wind farms when it has “built enough to meet all our targets.”

Ministers fear landowners and anti-fracking protesters would use existing law to block shale gas extraction in the UK as it suggests prior permission is needed to run pipelines thousands of feet below private land.

The government is looking at ways of making test drilling easier and ensuring that there was not “an overburden of red tape and regulation.”

The Infrastructure Bill would also give new freedoms to the Highways Agency in a bid to get more roads built and planning changes to fast-track developments.

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