Delay ruling on IGas borehole plans – anti-fracking campaigners

Frack Free NottinghamshireAnti-fracking campaigners have called for a delay to the decision on IGas’s plans for groundwater monitoring at a proposed shale gas exploration site in north Nottinghamshire.

The company applied last month for permission to drill up to 12 boreholes at four locations linked to the site off Springs Road, at Misson in Bassetlaw. It has already asked Nottinghamshire County Council for advice about exploratory drilling and fracking there.

The boreholes application is designed to comply with a clause in the Infrastructure Act which requires companies to monitor methane levels in groundwater for at least 12 months before fracking. A public consultation runs until 27th August.

Frack Free Nottinghamshire has said any decision on the boreholes application would influence the outcome of any later application for fracking. It has called on Nottinghamshire County Council to defer its decision on the monitoring plans. The group said:

“Given that these boreholes will only be necessary if IGas are given permission to carry out exploratory drilling and then fracking, it is our view that any decision to approve this application would amount to pre-determination of any subsequent planning applications.”

“Company aims to speed up fracking”

The group believes IGas has submitted the application for monitoring before the main fracking application to speed up the process. It said:

“By the time their exploratory drilling has finished, they will already have carried out the relevant monitoring they need to start fracking”.

The group contrasted the timing of IGas’s monitoring application with that of Cuadrilla in the Fylde area of Lancashire.

“It’s worth noting that in Lancashire, the monitoring borehole applications for Little Plumpton and Roseacre were considered at the same time as the main fracking applications, not in advance.”

“We therefore feel that this application for monitoring boreholes should be deferred, so that it can be considered at the same time as the exploratory drilling application, not in advance.”

“Meaningless baseline”

Frack Free Nottinghamshire has also said the results of groundwater monitoring would be meaningless as a baseline because the site is already contaminated.

“The water tested could already have been subject to some contamination in the past due to the previous activities on the site.”

The group said the site was not suitable for drilling because there was a risk of introducing existing contamination into the aquifer and a site of special scientific interest.

It added that Policy M3.8 of the Nottinghamshire Minerals Local Plan said permission would be granted only where there was no risk of polluting ground or surface waters, unless the risk could be adequately mitigated.

Other reasons for objection

Frack Free Nottinghamshire said it has other objections to the boreholes application, including:

  • Under the Infrastructure Act, IGas could store waste in boreholes
  • IGas has not considered the impact of noise from the site on Misson Springs Cottage because it is “within the control of the applicant”
  • The site is approximately 125m from the Misson Training Area Site of Special Scientific Interest
  • Concentrations of phosphorous are above recommended limits for human health but the application’s environmental site assessment describes them as “naturally occurring” and so does not regarded them as a risk to future site users.

Application details

The application said drilling the groundwater monitoring boreholes would take two weeks. The proposed work would be carried out between 7am and 7pm and there would be no drilling at weekends or bank holidays, it said.

Nottinghamshire County Council said: “The planning application for the monitoring boreholes is associated with exploratory shale gas drilling, and would help establish existing groundwater conditions. The boreholes would be monitored for a period of at least 12 months, and may be required for a longer period depending on the outcome of any future exploratory drilling application.”

Key facts

Application number F/3321

Nottinghamshire County Council’s public consultation runs until 27th August 2015

Link to application

Link to Frack Free Nottinghamshire objection

Link to IGas website on Misson

  • The government confirmed this week that it was pressing ahead with measures to allow groundwater monitoring boreholes to be drilled without planning permission

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