Regulation

Third Energy’s Ryedale planning application refused for validation for second time

NYCCPlanners in North Yorkshire have refused for a second time to validate a planning application by Third Energy to frack at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale.

The company withdrew a previous application after admitting there were minor problems with it. But a letter from the council, published by Frack Free Ryedale, ran to nine pages and listed 29 different reasons why it had not been validated. Our report

The second application was submitted by hand on 2nd July 2015. But at the end of last week, North Yorkshire County Council again refused to validate.

A letter from the Head of Planning Services, dated Friday 17th July 2015 and again published by the campaign group, said the company has not followed procedures for informing people about the plans. Read the letter here: Third Energy second failed validation application

According to the council,

  • Third Energy’s description of the development in the press and in on-site notices was different to the description in the planning application form
  • Third Energy’s site notice failed to say where relevant documents were available for inspection
  • The company failed to provide landowners near the site with complete and accurate information
  • It failed to provide notification of winning and working minerals underground, which is a legal requirement
  • It used the wrong form for a newspaper advertisement resulting in the omission of information

Reaction

Chris Redston of Frack Free Ryedale said

“We are astonished to hear that Third Energy’s application as failed to be validated for the second time, and we are starting to wonder if this fracking application is from Third Energy or the Three Stooges.”

Sue Gough, from Frack Free Kirby Misperton, said:

“The fact that Third Energy failed to inform nearby landowners or the general public correctly about the proposed fracking application tells you all you need to know about the company’s competence.”

“If they are unable to fill in Site Notice forms correctly or inform the public in the proper manner, even at the second time of asking, how on earth can they be allowed a licence to frack?”

“If Third Energy are not too embarrassed by this latest failure to withdraw this application completely, they must be required to post the necessary notices all over again, including allowing for the statutory 21 days waiting time, before they have another go at getting their application validated.”

Description

The planners’ letter said the description in the notices did not mention the equipment referred to in the application that will be used in proposed development. This includes:

A 37m workover rig, hydraulic fracture equipment, coil tubing unit, wireline unit, well testing equipment, high pressure flowline, temporary flowline pipe supports, permanent high pressure flowline and permanent pipe supports.

The two descriptions are considered to be materially different, the letter says. This “renders the notices deficient in that they do not adequately inform the recipients/readers of the notices as prescribed”, it adds.

As a result, the planners said: “it cannot be considered that the notices have been duly served, published or posted in the way prescribed”.

Inspection of the application

The planners said: “the applicant is responsible for making the application available for inspection within the area of the local planning authority”; however, there has been no evidence submitted with the application to demonstrate compliance with this requirement.”

Informing landowners near the site

Article 13 of the Town and County Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 requires notices to be served on any party with an interest in the land.

The planners said: “Having reviewed the application documents, the letter that is stated to have been served on a known owner of land does not cover all the points which are set down within the form as prescribed in Article 13.”

“Although the requirements allow for some scope to vary from the notice in Schedule 2 these omissions lead to a view that the notice is not ‘substantially to the same effect’ and is not ‘requisite notice’.”

Missing information

Third Energy used the Site Notice form for its advertisement in the Malton Gazette & Herald instead of the Press Form. This resulted in some information being omitted from the advertisement, including the rights of owners and tenants of land. The council said:

“The relevant notice is … should cover issues covered by that Form and elements are missing (the rights of owners or tenants of land), there are also issues regarding the inspection of documents/and the description of the development.”

November meeting

Third Energy has asked for the application to be decided at a special meeting in November 2015, at which no other plans would be considered. The council said it did not oppose this idea in principle. But it added that the planning committee may choose a later date “should circumstances differ from that which currently prevails”.

Third Energy comment

A spokesperson for Third Energy said:

“The planning application has not yet been validated as duly made by the North Yorkshire County Council. This is due to differing interpretations of statutory legislation regarding notices required. We are communicating with the council and our application is proceeding.”

12 replies »

  1. Standing back and looking at all this as I used to from a professional viewpoint, I’m really surprised at the seeming poor quality of planning consultant input. These are basic, fundamental, factual errors. Again, if this is the quality of expertise at this early stage then it does not engender any confidence at all in potential operational stages.

  2. Looking at what is being stated here, these seem to be very minor issues in what is a complex application. They seem to amount to interpretation when the intention is to comply?
    Is the local council helping, or simply looking to place obstacles in the way?

  3. I disagree with Ken, these are not ‘minor issues,’ this is about fulfilling the very bare minimum legal requirements for the application to even be considered by NYCC. If Third Energy cannot follow basic instructions on how to fill out their application form, how can we then expect them to comply with the minimum legal safeguards for our collective health and safety? Several of these issues (such as failure to undertake adequate public notification) were mentioned by NYCC in their response to the first failed validation attempt. So what we are now seeing is that even when errors are directly pointed out to Third Energy, they still seem incapable of correcting them. That is deeply concerning.

    • So do you conclude they are stupid Sophie? Filling in forms does not translate to competence in drilling. It seems that a lot of people want to ‘prove’ that drilling is an incredibly risky activity when it is not. With the reported 7 volumes of application literature, it does not surprise me that there may be minor errors. The question I asked is, are the council working WITH Third Energy, or looking to trip them up on procedural matters. They have as you know drilled 8 wells there already and nobody noticed, and there have been no environmental impacts. Those wells have provided energy, and tax revenue.

      You had a lecture from Mike Hill about how there is no regulation in shale gas. That is not the case. The Environment Agency will not allow dodgy practice. There is nothing scary about fracking. Its been around for years and nobody noticed. The US EPA recently concluded that fluid handling can, and has caused problems, but fracking itself does not. There is not a single instance of water contamination from fracking.

      You say ‘deeply concerning Sophie’. Might I ask why? Anyone who has worked in drilling (as I have) does not have this type of concern. Engineers are competent people, and they do not want to risk their safety or the environment. There are risks but they can be controlled, and the regs will do that. I have worked in the US, and know there are a lot of cowboy things that go on! Rest assured they will not be permitted in the UK.

      The trouble is that Greenpeace and other NGOs have come out with a campaign of deliberate misinformation to scare people. There is no scientific basis to this. I find them to be despicable. If we are going to discuss this, arguments need to be based on fact. This was one complaint I made. I also got Breast Cancer UK to withdraw their scaremongering leaflets. If they were based on fact, why did they withdraw…?
      http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/anticuadrilla-groups-fracking-protest-leaflet-misleading-says-watchdog-9961373.html

      • Ken, this is not about engineering but about honesty and transparency. Third Energy say they believe in both but have failed with their application twice because they are being inconsistent with the information they give out to different groups of people. We can only expect this lack of honesty to continue and, when it applies to serious matters – and I happen to think that pumping poisons into our earth to be a serious matter – then their failure to win our trust at this time could be their undoing. If, as you say, they have nothing to hide then, yes, they must be stupid to make these mistakes. If, as you claim, they are not stupid, then they must have something to hide. This concerns people like myself and rightly so. Your assurances that the ‘cowboy’ practices that have occurred abroad could not happen here are no reassurance and the government are shaping up to bypass regulations and local democracy as we speak. And the notion that engineers are competent therefore nothing can ever go wrong is just plain ludicrous! You state that there is a campaign of disinformation against fracking but there is also one promoting it and this has much more financial and political muscle behind it and it is not driven by care for our health, our countryside, and our way of life but by the desire to make money only. Third Energy and their fracking buddies will have to make a better showing if they are to expect to win anyone’s trust.

  4. Hi Andrew, I am not familiar with planning or local govt, but surely any complex application should be done with cooperation? If you had a complex extension, you would expect to be able to discuss what is required with the relevant person, to ensure that you do not trip up on some obscure regulation. The same appeared to happen with Cuadrillas applications. They believed they were in compliance with noise and traffic regs, but last Jan found they had been rejected because of that.
    Third Energy want to drill some wells and test frack them. They are exploration wells. That means that things are not necessarily cut and dried. Thats the nature of the business. It is an industry that has fuelled our excellent lifestyles for nearly 100 years. As for making profit, thats the system we live under, capitalism! No different to Tesco/Lidl/Airbus/Rolls Royce etc etc. Lets face it, N Sea production is tanking, and we will be using the gas anyway. Every analysis of future energy sees gas as a major part of the energy mix. Its needed to make renewables viable, for instance! Its just that importing it seems to be expensive, bad for the economy, and more environmentally bad than producing it at home.
    The issue of ‘toxic chemicals’ and poisons does not exist, due to the regulations, and UK and EU law. You can see a summary at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing_in_the_United_Kingdom#Chemicals_permitted_for_hydraulic_fracturing_in_the_UK
    Frankly, it shocks me that the ‘anti’ groups still spout this nonsense. It never has been permitted. That all comes from the US, where any old chemical can be used. In fact even in the US, they are moving away from this. The chemicals used these days can all be food additives (and are highly dilute as well).
    Flowback water is more of an issue tho it falls well outside of the description of ‘toxic’. It is also treatable under licence from the Environment Agency, and already is. 7 million barrels of polluted water produced with oil from Wytch Farm is already disposed of annually. (I have all that from a chartered waste disposal expert.)

    • The waste water from Wytch Farm is not treated but simply reinjected. The problem with Wytch Farm is that it is long past peak production. The waste water aka produced water is reinjected not only to get rid of it but also to help extract the oil by displacing it. Please be wary of wikipedia as a guide especially when it is being referred to by the author of the wikipedia item. The day after Lancashire declined applications to frack by Cuadrilla the government of the Netherlands halted fracking for at least a further five years. Cuadrilla once had permission to drill and frack at Boxtel in the Netherlands but that was turned over in the courts a few years ago in an action by the Council of Boxtel with the support of Rabobank. Cuadrilla had donated EUR300,000 to the community. That money was returned to Cuadrilla. The industry has a long way to go before it gains acceptance. Repeatedly botching planning applications makes that distance greater.

      • Please check the links provided on the Wiki page, Wellswaterwaste. You will see that they all take you to the legislation and statutory instruments regarding chemical use. The whole point of having those is so that people can see the regulations that apply. Perhaps you might wish to comment on why anti frack sites still present claims that hundreds of carcinogenic materials will be used when there is no evidence for that?

        Re reinjection, I am sure that is the case in Wytch farm. They are injecting water and the current drilling programme out at sea (drilling under some of the most expensive property in the world with no complaints) is to permit water injection. However, perhaps you could comment on the multitude of other water using industries that also produce polluted water, all of which dispose of water under Environment Agency licence?

        Everything that is done these days has to follow strict regulation. The idea that industry can dump stuff illegally is very old hat. Thats why rivers now have fish in them, rather than the industrial pollution that was there when I was a lad.

      • The Environment Agency does not enjoy the confidence of the public. There are a number of reasons for that lack of confidence, not least is the fact that the current head of the Environment Agency is the former head of Arup which prepared planning applications and represented Cuadrilla at Council planning hearings. Regarding referring to a wikipedia item being used as a reference by the author of that entry it is worth being wary especially when that author has repeatedly claimed incorrectly that reinjection of produced water is prohibited in the UK. Regulation at the EU level is still being developed and contrary to the misleading assurances of fracking proponents the Commission recognises that hydarulic fracturing of shale is a novel process with only one case having taken place so far in the UK. This position is the same as the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change but is contradicted by the industry’s lobbying body known as the United Kingdom Onshore Operators Group which continues to issue press releases stating misleadingly that the process is not novel and has taken place over 200 times in the UK.

  5. To look at this issue from a lay persons view point as I am not technical but do speak to experts on the issue of fracking. It seems to me that the anti fracking groups are out to delay the process in the hope it will go away. It wont because it cant, we have a densely populated country and we need energy for this country to function and be productive. That is basic economics. My theory is that because of the intense pressure that councils and planning officers are under they are afraid to pass or validate anything for fear of the anti fracking movement and what they may do next. No one can deny that they have acted in possibly an intimidating and vociferous manner with regard to fracking. I would rather listen to the experts with years of training and work experience than a group who just don’t like fracking full stop and actually offer no viable alternative, only for us to import the gas. Ken W is may well be right when he says the council is possibly just looking for obstacles, perhaps the are so afraid to allow anything to progress with gas. It is a shame, as it has never been an issue before but now shows you how the NGO’s of this world who shout loudly can control peoples lives and not always for the betterment of mankind.

    • Lorraine ,

      For disclosure I have shares in AJ Lucas (Cuadrilla jv partner and shareholder)

      About 25 years ago I used to collect for Christian Aid during their annual appeal .

      I called at the door of an old retired former Colonel who had gone into business . He told me he didn’t donate to Christian Aid and provided the reason that it was because they interfere with legitimate business .

      At the time I put this down to him being a grumpy old man and of course some businesses (including some which are included in most peoples pension funds) have an unethical culture .

      I have since learned that it is not safe to assume that organisations are the “good guys” on the basis of them having charitable status !

      The dishonest nature of the International “green” NGO’s campaign against hydraulic fracturing and fossil fuels in general has made me even more discriminating with the charities I give to .

      Whilst the rank and file members of the big international green NGO’s are mostly well intentioned easily manipulated useful idiots , some of the people at the top are downright sinister and the overall agenda (ruthless depopulation of the lower classes) is very unpleasant .

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