The Government have launched a Public Consultation until 28 March 2014, on their 'Strategic Environmental Assessment for Further Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing' (SEA). This includes the use of hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking', to extract shale gas deposits. See:Government Consulatation on the Environment Report for further onshore oil and gas licensing
The consultation document, known as the SEA, was drawn up for The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) by AMEC, a company that offers specialist engineering consultancy and project management in the oil and gas sector.
The aim of the SEA, defined by Directive 2001/42/EC, is 'To provide for a high level of protection of the environment and contribute to the intergration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of plans and programmes with a view to contributing to sustainable development' (SEA page 3).
Other documents likely to inform the process include 'Shale Gas Extraction in the UK: a review of hydraulic fracturing', a look at the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, published in 2012 by the Royal Society and The Royal Academy of Engineering, at the request of the UK Government's Chief Scientific Adviser (RS/RAE Shale Gas Report). Its terms of reference include seismicity, geological risks and local environmental risks, such as groundwater contamination, but not wider environmental concerns such as climate change. See the Royal Society website:http://royalsociety.org/policy/projects/shale-gas-extraction/report/
The issue of climate change is covered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) who are publishing their Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) during January 2014. The 'Summary for Policymakers' (SPM) was published in 2013 and is available from the IPCC website:http://www.ipcc.ch/