The Ministry of the Environment is preparing a moratorium on prospecting for shale gas

The greatest risk entailed in the current prospecting legislation is legal uncertainty.

The Ministry of the Environment is preparing a proposal for the Government to announce a moratorium on prospecting for shale gas.

“No new prospecting would be permitted during the period of the moratorium. The greatest risk both for the State and for prospecting companies lies in the legal uncertainty ensuing from imperfect laws on EIA, the Mining Act and the Geological Works Act, where the two latter laws are more than 20 years old. I would not like to find myself in a situation where a private company claims lost profits in arbitration against the Czech Republic simply because the Czech legislation was unable to adequately cover this area. It is my ambition to lay down legal provisions that will stipulate clear rules of the game. This is not possible under the current legislation,” says the Minister of the Environment, Tomáš Chalupa.

A moratorium would be a legal act similar to the Government resolution on limits for coal mining. It would apply for a period of approx. 1.5 to 2 years, during which the existing laws would be modified, including particularly the Geological Works Act, the Mining Act and the EIA Act, which currently do not provide, either separately or in their mutual relationship, sufficient legal certainty that would protect the Czech Republic, for example, against possible arbitration. The Ministry of the Environment has carried out an analysis of the legislation and concluded that the current laws are not appropriate for technologically complex surveys, such as prospecting for shale gas.

"The decision to cancel the delimited prospecting area in the Náchod and Broumov regions and refer the matter for new discussion is based on three grounds. Firstly, it is necessary to take proper account of the basic public interest consisting in protection of resources of potable water, as well as of nature and the landscape. Secondly, the statements presented by the affected entities were not properly dealt with and, for example, municipalities were not provided with information or sufficient space to state their opinion on this matter. And lastly, the procedure was not in line with the Code of Administrative Procedure,” adds Minister of the Environment Tomáš Chalupa in respect of the situation in Náchod and Broumov areas.

Matyáš Vitík, spokesperson of the Ministry of the Environment