Industry

Rathlin’s plans for 2nd West Newton drill site recommended for approval

Council officers are recommending approval of plans for another exploratory gas well in Holderness, East Yorkshire.

A report, published today by East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said Rathlin Energy’s proposal for a second well at West Newton was acceptable and permission should be granted. The recommendation is subject to conditions.

Rathlin Energy has applied for permission for two years for a well site, including a drilling rig up to 50m, other equipment and buildings and a 1.5km access road.

The council’s planning committee will decide on the application at a meeting on Thursday 4th June in Beverley.

Objections

The report said there had been 164 objections from members of the public. The council also received objections from Sproatley and Aldborough Parish Council but no objection from Burton Constable.

According to the report, objections were mostly about traffic, noise and vibrations, smell, light pollution, flood risk, threat to water quality, and impacts on biodiversity and residential and visual amenity.

People who objected also raised concerns about breaches of environmental permits by Rathlin’s existing West Newton drilling site. Our investigation based on Environment Agency documents revealed multiple breaches at the site during last year.

There were no objections from Highway Control, the council’s Conservation Officer, Environment Agency, Natural England, Health and Safety Executive or Yorkshire Water

The report said impacts from the development were acceptable and the application complied with planning policy.

“National and local planning policy supports this type of development that enables energy and mineral resources to be investigated, subject to environmental standards not being compromised b the specific operations concerned”, the report said.”

It identified potential detrimental impacts on local residents, particularly noise, dust, odour and lighting. But it concluded: “Through a noise limitation and Construction Method Statement conditions, together with permits issued by the Environment Agency, the residential amenity of neighbouring residents will be safeguarded from harm.”

The report acknowledged that the “uncharacteristically tall vertical structure” of the drilling rig at 50m tall would have an impact on the flat, low-lying landscape. But it said the rig would be on site for a specific period of time and would not become a permanent feature. As a result, the report said, visual impacts would not be substantial.

It also said the proposed access routes could accommodate extra traffic and the development was considered acceptable from flood risk, ground water protection, drainage and biodiversity considerations, subject to conditions.

Conditions

The report proposed 14 conditions on the new application. Along with conditions on noise, lighting and traffic, these include:

  • No fracking
  • The work must be completed within five years of the date of permission
  • Drilling and testing must be completed within two years and the drilling rig shall remain on site for a maximum of two periods of ten weeks
  • Work cannot start until Rathlin Energy has submitted proposals for investigating the archaeology of the site and a biodiversity enhancement and management plan has been approved.

Operational details

The report gave details of the duration of different phases of the operation and the number of heavy goods vehicle movements. These included:

Access track: 4 weeks and 337 truck movements
Rig mobilisation: 2 weeks and 70 vehicle movements, 6 HGV a day
Drilling well 1 up to 2,100m: 6-10 weeks
Drill Stem Testing to confirm existence of petroleum: 12 hours
Drilling well 2 up to 2,100m: 6-10 weeks (if DST above is successful)
Test equipment mobilisation: 2-3 days
Well test up to 24 hours: 2 cars and 2 HGVs/day (no details on duration)
Demobilisation: 2 weeks
Abandonment and restoration: no details on duration or vehicle movements

The Planning officers’ report is included in the agenda for the meeting starting at 10am on 4th June. The report begins on page 28.

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