Rathlin wins drilling extension for Crawberry Hill site

Rathlin secures extension for Crawberry Hill site in East Yorkshire but first shale application in South Wales is thrown out

To cries of “shame” from the public gallery, East Riding of Yorkshire Council voted by 11-1 to extend Rathlin Energy’s planning permission for exploratory drilling at its site at Crawberry Hill.

The company had asked for an extension of two years but must now complete its work within a year and then restore the site in another six months.

Some campaigners left County Hall in Beverley in tears. More than 300 people had written to object to the planning application. One person described the result as “disappointing”. Another said he was “totally disgusted” at the councillors. Some visitors complained about having to hand in wallets, bags and keys before they went into the council chamber.

Rathlin chairman, David Montagu-Smith, had blamed protestors occupying the site near Walkington for delaying the company’s operations. But objectors to the extension said this was not justified.

In a statement this evening, Rathlin said: “We are pleased that the planning committee was minded to approve our planning application at Crawberry Hill. However, the shorter timescales given will make it more challenging for us to complete our testing operations for conventional oil and/or gas due to the ongoing disruption from people who are campaigning against fracking at a site where no fracking is taking place. Having made its decision, we now call upon East Riding of Yorkshire Council to do more to help us in dealing with these people so that we can deliver our lawful work in the timeframe it has granted.”

East Riding planning officers had recommended the application be approved. They said the impact of the development on traffic, noise, lighting, dust, vibration and ecology were considered to be acceptable. Link to planning report

A total of 331 people objected to the application. They raised concerns about the visual impact of the development, the effect of heavy vehicles on narrow roads, disturbance from noise and vibration and the risk of contamination of water, air and ground. There were calls for an Environmental Impact Assessment, which had not been required by the council, and there were complaints about insufficient consultation.

Walkington and Newbald Parish Councils also objected to the application. In its submission, Newbald Parish Council said the original two-year deadline, imposed in 2012, was designed to protect the Wolds Area of High Landscape Value and the amenities of the area “This should not be compromised for any longer”, it said.

Newbald councillors were among several objectors who alleged that Rathlin had not abided by conditions of its first planning application by failing to use consistently the approved route for traffic. The parish council also alleged the environmental controls around the storage of water had been lax.

South Wales shale bid rejected

Councillors at Neath Port Talbot rejected the advice of planning officers and voted on September 30th against the first application for exploratory shale gas drilling in South Wales.

A site visit before the meeting was accompanied by a silent protest involving hundreds of opponents of the scheme.

UK Methane Ltd wanted to drill for coal bed methane and shale gas in Foel Fynyddau, a wooded area near Pontryhydyfen.

There were no objections from statutory consultees, such as the Highways Department, Natural Resources Wales or the heritage body CADW. Planning officers said the development would “not have a detrimental impact sufficient to warrant refusal of the application or subsequently justify at appeal stage if necessary”.

But opponents of the application had submitted 1,036 letters and a 1,564-signature petition. There were also objections from three Welsh Assembly Members. Just two letters were submitted in support.

The reasons for objections included highway safety, pollution, noise, dust, disturbance, and the impact on tourism, recreation and wildlife. Some objectors criticised the quality of the application and complained about the lack of an Environmental Impact Assessment.

Councillors rejected the application on grounds of noise and local echo issues in the Pelenna Valley.

Planning Officers’ report

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