The Government has admitted that it is considering plans to change the law to allow companies to conduct 'fracking' to take place underneath British homes without property owners being required to give their permission.
The controversial process of fracking frees natural gas locked away inside underground rock, by a process of fracturing the rock with pressurised water. The process results in tiny fractures in the rock, which allow natural gas to escape.
Controversies centre around the fact that little is known about the long-term damage to the substructure of the earth as a result of fracking, leading many to fear the process could lead to earthquakes and ground slides in future if allowed to proceed on a large scale.
At present the law would require fracking companies to ask all landowners for permission to drill underneath their homes. However, the companies fear this process could mire them in litigation, and they are seeking a change in the law to allow them to proceed without these permissions.
The Telegraph reports that the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has admitted that it is examining whether the existing law is suitable for the process of fracking.
A spokesman quoted in The Telegraph said: "All options are on the table. It would be difficult to implement a regime that removed any kind of compensation. You could change the rules so you have a de facto right, but then you have to pay. The compensation could be less than £100."
On the risks of fracking, a spokesman for DECC said: "Shale gas and oil operations that involve fracking in wells drilled over a mile down are highly unlikely to have any discernible impacts closer to the surface."