Unconventional Hydrocarbons in Cumbria

There has been a lot of interest over the past few years in harnessing a wider variety of energy sources in order to replace or supplement traditional finite fossil fuels. Increasingly, companies are looking into the extraction of the more difficult to reach hydrocarbons such as the unconventional hydrocarbons of shale gas, shale oil and coal bed methane, that are found in a reservoir of shale rock or coal seams.

Over the last year the public and other Local Authorities have approached Officers and Councillors at the County Council for information on the Council's position regarding fracking (hydraulic fracturing of shale rock, in order to extract shale oil or gas).  Questions have also been asked on whether there are any existing licences for fracking in Cumbria and whether the County Council has any briefing material on the subject.

Consequently a briefing has been produced which pulls together factual data on the range of unconventional hydrocarbons, of which shale gas is one, and explains the permissioning process for hydrocarbon licences.  It also sets out the current situation regarding licences in Cumbria, national policy on hydrocarbons and discusses the approach taken to hydrocarbons in the emerging Cumbria Minerals & Waste Local Plan. This briefing can be used as a baseline to aid responses to questions on fracking and other unconventional hydrocarbons, or can be adapted by the County Council and other Local Authorities in Cumbria, for presentations.  This briefing will be updated when new information is received or if the situation in Cumbria changes.


On 28th July 2014, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced the opening of the new onshore licensing (the 14th Round).  This opens a 90 day period in which companies seeking new onshore licences can submit applications.

The 14th Round material (with a map of the areas on offer) can be viewed here: www.gov.uk/oil-and-gas-licensing-rounds

An Update on the licensing Round and how it may affect Cumbria has been produced, and it can be accessed below.

The Briefing Note that was produced in November 2013 has been updated, and can also be accessed below.

Minerals and Waste Planning Policy
Cumbria County Council
County Offices
Busher Walk
01539 713409