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