Dudleston CBM appeal dropped as IGas pulls out of Shropshire site


Dart Energy has dropped its appeal over plans to drill for coal bed methane near Ellesmere in Shropshire. The company’s owners, IGas, also announced today it was abandoning the site.

Local campaigners have welcomed the decision. Frack Free Dudleston said this afternoon it was “delighted” with the news.

The Planning Inspectorate’s website confirmed that the appeal for Brookland’s Farm at Dudleston Heath had been withdrawn. Earlier this month, Dart’s access agreement to the site expired and the landowner said he would not renew it. Our report

A company statement said the decision to abandon Brookland’s Farm followed a review of licenses held by Dart, which was acquired by IGAs last year. The statement added:

“As a result of this review, IGas has concluded that the licence area, PEDL 185, does not meet its criteria for commercial CBM development.  It has, therefore, decided not to progress with the proposed exploration drilling project at the Dudleston site in Shropshire.

But the company denied that it was giving up PEDL 185 at this stage. A spokesperson said: “Just to confirm again, our announcement today relates only to our site Dudleston and not PEDL 185”.

The roller-coaster story of the Dudleston site began more than a year ago in June 2014 when Dart applied for permission for an exploratory borehole. A previous application granted by Shropshire Council had expired without any development.

In October 2014 Shropshire Council’s planning committee voted that it was “minded to refuse” the application, against the advice of officers. There had been about 500 objections to the application, including most of the residents living near the site.

The council did not confirm the decision before the target date of December 2014 and in January this year, Dart lodged its appeal.

The Planning Inspectorate (PI) decided, after representations from Dart, to deal with the appeal in writing, rather than at a hearing. This meant the company would have had the final word after local comments had been submitted in writing only.

But following representations by local people, the PI changed its mind and upgraded the appeal to a full public inquiry. Dart argued again for the case to be handled in writing and the appeal was down-graded to a hearing, only to be upgraded again when Frack Free Dudleston submitted its case.

Frack Free Dudleston said today: “During the past year we have seen the effectiveness of a united community.”

“It has been thoroughly heartening to see everyone showing themselves willing to speak out against this unreasonable threat.

“We are overjoyed by the news that our fight is over and we wish for similarly good news for other communities that are being threatened by this industry.  We are very grateful to the Councillors at Shropshire Council who listened to the reasoned arguments from the community and showed that democracy does still exist.”

The group also argued for renewable energy, and energy efficiency and storage to be deployed quickly to address future energy shortfalls and criticised the government for cutting spending in these areas.

“Unconventional gas extraction won’t play any part in addressing that shortfall because the industry needs at least 10 years to reach production volumes”, the group said.

“We hope that there will be another change of direction, back towards clean energy and supporting communities instead of corporations.”

This is the second appeal to be abandoned by an oil and gas company in the past six months. In March, Celtique Energie announced it was withdrawing from an appeal against refusal of planning permission for drilling at a site between Wisborough Green and Kirdford in West Sussex. Our report

Last week Cuadrilla confirmed it would appeal against the refusal of planning permission to frack at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood in Lancashire. It also said it would appeal against a refusal for monitoring stations near the Preston New Road site and the conditions imposed on a permission for monitoring near Roseacre Wood. Our report

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