Company plans to reduce fracking noise with a wall of shipping containers

KM application

Third Energy plans to build a 28ft high wall of shipping containers to reduce noise from its proposed fracking site in North Yorkshire.

The wall, made up of 42 containers stacked three high, would need 76 lorry trips to deliver. A tarpaulin would be draped over the containers to “provide some sound absorption”, the company has revealed.

The details are in Third Energy’s planning application to frack and produce gas from the already-drilled KM8 well at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale.

The plans, originally submitted in May, was finally published today after North Yorkshire County Council previously refused to validate them on two occasions. Planning officers said there had been missing and contradictory information and the company had not followed council procedures.

Third Energy said in a statement the application now runs to seven volumes and several thousand pages and had taken about seven months to complete, involving a range of experts.

The proposals for the container wall are in the noise chapter of the environmental statement, in a section headed Embedded Mitigation. This said the wall would be on site before and during the first two phases of the scheme.

The containers would be stacked on three sides of the wellsite, with an overall height of 8.7m (over 28ft). The Environment Statement said:

“On the inside surface of the containers, facing inwards to the equipment, will be loosely draped a tarpaulin material set around 100mm clear of the container face, to provide some sound absorption characteristic and reduce reflections.”

Noise estimates

The application estimates noise from the site would reach 59dB with the barrier in place at Kirby-O-Carr Farm, one of the nearest buildings. This level is higher than that predicted in the application in 2012 to drill the original well and higher than those predicted at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in Lancashire. 60dB is equivalent to average street traffic. The application says a maximum of 70dB complies with government planning policy for minerals if it would last no more than eight weeks.

Third Energy says it is considering alternative noise barriers that would need fewer vehicle movements. But whatever the method used, the company says, it would “be equal to or more effective in providing noise reduction at the KMA wellsite during the pre-stimulation workover and hydraulic fracture stimulation/well test phases.”

The application has other proposals to reduce noise from the site including:

  • Minimise drop heights of materials
  • Avoid unnecessary revving of engines
  • Use of the quietest equipment available for the required purpose

In January, Cuadrilla proposed to install acoustic screens around its proposed fracking sites at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road in Lancashire at a cost, according to The Telegraph, of £2m-£2.7m per site.


Third Energy’s landscape assessment acknowledges that the barrier at Kirby Misperton could be seen from parts of the village and from nearby farms. The site would also be visible from the North York Moors National Park about 5km away.

But the company defends the visual impact by quoting the local planning document Landscapes of northern Ryedale. This says there is “some scope for small scale development provided it is carefully sited in sheltered locations and that associated planting is designed to integrate closely with the surrounding landscape pattern”.

Third Energy concludes that the visual impact of the site would be neutral to slight. It has also assessed impacts on air quality, cultural heritage, ecology, greenhouse gas emissions, noise, public health, seismicity, local society and economy, lighting, traffic and waste. On these assessments, Third Energy concludes:

“Any impacts associated with this proposal will be negligible due to the short duration and temporary nature of the operations.”


The planning application says the operation will have five phases:

  1. Pre-stimulation – two weeks
  2. Fracking – six weeks
  3. Production test – 13 weeks, 24 hours a day
  4. Production – approximately nine years
  5. Restoration – 12 weeks followed by five years of after care.

Fracking details

According to the application, the workover rig, which would be in place for abotu two weeks, would be 37m (121ft) high. Five sections of the well would be fracked at depths of 2,123m and 3,037m. Each frack would last for five hours and would be carried out during the day. There are no plans to flare gas from the well during the pre-production phase. Instead, it would be piped to the Knapton Generating Station, where it would be used to generate electricity.

Third Energy said the fracking operations would use 4,000m3 of water, which, it said, was less than the volume of two Olympic swimming pools. Water would be supplied by pipe, not tanker, and stored on the site.

The application describes fracture fluid additives as salt, gelling agent, crosslinker, gel breaker, high temp gel breaker and surfactant. But it gives no other details. The press statement says additives are “non-hazardous, approved by the Environment Agency and fully disclosed in the planning application”. (Third Energy does not yet have an environmental permit to frack at Kirby Misperton. The deadline for comments is 7th August 2015.)

The company is assuming that about 70% of the fracking fluid would remain underground. That which comes back would be stored on site and then removed by tanker to a treatment facility.

No jobs

No jobs are expected to be created if the application were approved. The application foresees no impact on agriculture or tourism. Six of Third Energy’s existing wells were considered as part of the application.

Peak lorry movements

According to the application, there would be 156 lorry movements involved with mobilising and demobilising the noise barrier. At their peak, there would be four lorry movements an hour (two entering the site and two leaving).

Mobilising the pre-stimulation workover rig would take 18 lorry movements in and another 12 during demobilisation. For the fracking phase, there would be 193 lorry movements to mobilise equipment and 195 to demobilise.

Lorries would reach the site from the A169 2,turning west onto Kirby Misperton Road, left on to Main Street and right on to Habton Road. Working hours are proposed to be 7am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday.


Chris Redston of Frack Free Ryedale commented, “We note that Third Energy have finally managed to get their application to frack at Kirby Misperton validated. However, the fact that they needed three attempts to pass the North Yorkshire County Council validation test has made many people very concerned about the company’s competence.”

“Frack Free Ryedale will be strongly objecting to this proposal, as will many thousands of local residents who oppose fracking in the area, as well as many others who visit North Yorkshire on holiday. More and more people are becoming aware of the threat that fracking poses to Ryedale’s core businesses of tourism and agriculture, as well as its water supply, public health, wildlife and peaceful day-to-day life in the area.”

Decision date

North Yorkshire County Council has set 18th November 2015 as the target decision date. Third Energy has already asked for the application to be considered at a special meeting.

There are no details yet on the length of the public consultation but today’s Yorkshire Post suggested it might last 13 weeks.


Site address: KMA wellsite, Alma Farm, Off Habton Road, Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire

Planning reference: NY/2015/0233/ENV

Link to application

Updated 31/7/15 to  correct estimated dB levels and make it clear that it would be the workover (not fracking) rig that is 37m high.

14 replies »

  1. The use of shipping containers to control noise is quite clever.

    Sound is, in essence, a transimmsion of energy using air molecules.

    The Inverse Square Law applies

    So, in essence, the further away you are from a sound source, the quieter it is. Put barriers in place, and it reduces this even further.

    These shipping containers could achieve a significant sound reduction.

    Noise, for what it’s worth, is a sound where it isn’t wanted. So, if you’re in a restaurant with your partner and there’s a group of people at the next table speaking really loudly – so that you have to raise your voices to be heard – that’s noise.

  2. ‘Noise, for what’s its worth, is a sound where it isn’t wanted’.
    So is the scaremongering and disinformation and unreasonable planning conditions by the campaign against development and progress. These campaign are also loud and vocal such that common sense and rationales must raise its voice to be heard.

    • Not in a campaign group and not loud and vocal but I am a local resident and very, very concerned not by scaremongering but what I have researched in depth. We are in the frontline. Please do not generalise and make sweeping statements. It is inaccurate and disrespectful to those having to deal with this. Thank you.

  3. For anyone suggesting a temporary wall of shipping containers will be a visible eyesore, go take a look at the Boortmalt factory on Malton Road – it looks like a throw-back to the Cold War in Eastern Europe and is visible from miles around! Given the topography, I’m pretty certain you can see this from Kirby Misperton…

  4. Much as Frack Free Ryedale will challenge this application FORGE (Friends of Ryedale Gas Exploration) will be supporting it and the future of local businesses and economy if the test frack proves positive. We have Ryedale and it’s residents best interests at heart. We are pleased to see that Third Energy have considered a very clever way to diminish noise from the execution of this process at KM8. As this will be a temporary structure I can see no reason to object. Does anyone object when farmers build high straw stacks in fields? The lorry movements seem insignificant too in the greater scheme of things and considering there is already a major tourist attraction in the village with thousands of traffic movements a day.

    • There isn’t a major tourist attraction in the village. Please get your facts right. You don’t say where you live, I live in the Tourist Attraction but not the village.

    • I was surprised to see the statement “No jobs are expected to be created if the application were approved”. Can that be correct, because if so it doesn’t sound like a great boost to the local economy. Would you accept that for any jobs to be created, then fracking would have to be much more widespread across Ryedale? In which case, would it be fair to say that any truck movements, disruption, noise and visual impact would be similarly more widespread, and may possibly not seem so insignificant?

      • Hi Steve
        Thanks for your comment. The planning application form has a section on proposed full-time and part-time jobs would be result from the application if it were approved. The form makes it clear that the development is at an existing well site but it has zeros for both proposed full and part-time jobs.
        Best wishes, Ruth

  5. A wall of shipping containers in the middle of farm land cannot be compared to a straw stack in a field. It would be more in place at the docks or on an industrial estate. Many local residents, including me are concerned about these proposals and it is not just anti groups that have concerns. And I would also point out the trucks will travel right through the centre of the village so they will be disruptive. The trucks will also be carrying concentrated chemicals and waste and whilst road accidents are thankfully not common – residents are concerned abouts these trucks travelling through the centre of their village and an accident or leakage taking place. The reality is and despite Flamingoland being close by, this is a village with small roads that is surrounded by farmland. Fracking for unconventional gas is not the same as abstracting conventional gas and if this were any other industry planning controls would normally require it to be located in an industrial brown field site. It is wrong of people to look at it any other way. The trucks will disturb people, the drilling will disturb people the operation of drilling multiple wells will disturb people and wildlife. Diesel generators and lighting will be a problem. It is far from ideal and though companies will do their best to mitigate these problems – if you really stand back from this and look at it objectively from the point of those in the firing line of this – it is wrong to say otherwise. Indeed it is downright disrespectful.

  6. It would be useful to know the chemical names and concentrations of the following proposed frack fluid ingredients, salt, gelling agent, crosslinker, gel breaker, high temp gel breaker, surfactant, biocide, corrosion inhibitor, plus the type and size of proppant. Perhaps those attempting to work in the supply chain for the industry can find out or perhaps not. Perhaps the Environment Agency can find out, perhaps not. Perhaps the operator Third Energy, aka Barclays Bank doesn’t want its “neighbours” to know. Perhaps Third Energy doesn’t know what they are. Perhaps the well completion and hyrdaulic fracturing contractor knows. Perhaps the well completion and hydraulic fracturing contractor doesn’t want Third Energy to know. Perhaps the well completion and hydraulic fracturing contractor doesn’t know what will be used until it starts poking around.

    Perhaps the most likely well completion and hydraulic fracturing contractor Halliburton, infamous for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, (headquarters United Arab Emirates, Dubai) doesn’t care about the inhabitants of North Yorkshire.
    Perhaps Barclays Bank (98% owner of Third Energy and bailed out by United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi) doesn’t care about the inhabitants of North Yorkshire.

    One thing is certain, the people of Yorkshire, Lancashire and England do care and will not stand idly by.

    • Hi WellsWaterWaste, I’m pretty sure that in the UK, the chemicals used in fracking have to be notified to the Environment Agency, so you probably don’t need to be concerned on that score. And Halliburton were only one of the parties responsible for Deepwater Horizon, the larger part of the blame falling to BP and rig operator Transocean.

      • Perhaps the Environment agency knows perhaps it doesn’t. The public don’t know. Frack fluid and its contents vary greatly depending on the challenges the geology presents. Diesel is among the items used, whether or not a hostage regulator approves its use or the use of anything else whether toxic or benign is not the point. The point is that fracking is an esoteric (secretive) practice that can lead to a high risk of acute pollution and is certain to have chronic pollution effects. Halliburton pleaded guilty to destroying evidence and as of September 2014 has agreed to pay USD1.1 billion to settle some of the claims for damages the disaster caused. Halliburton mixed and applied the cement job which failed and led to the massive irreparable pollution of the Gulf of Mexico.

        In the words of Pope Francis

        “The earth our home is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”

  7. Steve, (Aug. 1.12.14pm), thank you for this, but it’s not quite accurate. Competition rules have so far allowed operators a secret chemical which safeguards, they say, their commercial advantage. It seems unlikely that the EA or local planners will be able to require 3E or anybody else to disclose their secret product: the TTIP under discussion will ensure this, and there is already ‘form’ in Europe of industry protecting its investments in this manner.
    Wells Water Waste (Aug. 2. 1.34pm) – just…”Thank You”.


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