Commenting on the issue of drilling for shale gas, Matt Ridley, British journalist and author of “The Rational Optimist”, has argued in his latest Times opinion piece that householders can’t be allowed to hold up underground energy projects.
Matt points out that the “world is bedevilled by problems caused by lack of private property rights, but it is also bedevilled by problems caused by too much property ownership.” He goes on to say that “it was to prevent just such ownership gridlock that the government long ago established that individual landowners could not stop canals, railways, roads, sewers, water pipes or even coal mines going through, over or under their properties, so long as they were compensated for any harm done.”
Consequently, Matt argues that if “somebody is going to take the expensive trouble to drill through miles of rock, and have no discernible effect on your garden above, then you should no more have the right to prosecute him for trespass than you do to prosecute an airliner flying thousands of feet above your garden or a car driving past on a motorway a mile away.”
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