Perhaps most worryingly of all, this is unclear.
A landowner with an agreement with an oil & gas company may have a provision for them to rectify any damage caused. However, these guarantees are only as good as the company providing them. A trend in the US is beginning to emerge whereby companies are exhausting drilling wells in an area, then filing for bankruptcy, leaving contaminated areas untreated.
We have raised the issue of long term liability with Third Energy on several occasions. We have yet to receive any kind of response.
Similarly, the Countryside Landowners Association said a consultation response from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on fracking failed to properly tackle the issue of long-term liability leaving landowners at risk long after drilling has stopped.
The new Infrastructure Bill will allow oil and gas companies to drill under land without permission. It will also allow the same companies to leave toxic waste water there in perpetuity. Eventually, all the well casings holding the toxic water will fail.
If you have no agreement with an oil and gas company, proving pollution on your land will require expensive testing as well as lengthy (and even more expensive) legal procedures. It is not unrealistic to expect that this could bankrupt many farmers and landowners.
A proposal to protect landowners and farmers – to make UK operators take out insurance against environmental damage, has been rejected by the government.
The US oil and gas company Chevron gave residents of Bobtown, Pennsylvania pizza vouchers as an apology after a fracking well next to the town exploded and burned for 5 days.