North Yorkshire County Council is being urged to postpone its decision this morning on plans for monitoring boreholes around Third Energy’s proposed fracking site in Ryedale.
The company has applied to drill five boreholes to test methane levels in water at the existing wellsite at Alma Farm in Kirby Misperton. A separate application to frack a well on the site is expected to be decided later this year, possibly in November.
Opponents of the applications have said that a decision today on the monitoring boreholes would pre-determine the later fracking application.
They also said any monitoring information collected from the boreholes would be meaningless because water was likely to have been contaminated by existing conventional gas operations at the site.
Planning officers have recommended the application be approved. A decision is expected when the council’s planning committee meets at 10am in Northallerton.
Three of the proposed monitoring boreholes are near the KM8 well, which Third Energy wants to frack. Two others are planned for an adjoining wellsite.
Frack Free Ryedale said the application was legally flawed.
Its planning spokesman, David Davis, said:
“The water monitoring boreholes would only be required if Third Energy were given permission to frack at the KM8 well-site.”
“So if the County Council approved the boreholes now, they would effectively be saying that they had already decided to approve the fracking application at KM8, which is currently out for consultation.
“There would be no point in drilling monitoring boreholes if the company wasn’t allowed to go on to frack – one doesn’t make sense without the other.”
“If this application were approved, it would be a clear case of pre-determination.”
Mr Davis said conventional gas has been produced at Alma Farm for the last 30 years.
“It is therefore very likely that there has been some contamination and leakage of gas into the water surrounding the well over the last three decades. This would therefore make any baseline levels of contamination effectively meaningless, and would fail to comply with relevant EU water legislation.”
He added that the Council had not received advice or approval from the Environment Agency on this issue. He said the planning committee had no choice but to defer the application.
“We have taken expert legal advice on this and their findings support our views. We therefore believe that the Committee must either defer or reject the application.”
IGas application at Misson
Anti-fracking campaigners in Nottinghamshire are also calling on councillors to delay a decision on monitoring boreholes, this time proposed by IGas at its planned fracking site at Misson, in Bassetlaw. They have also argued that a decision on the boreholes would pre-determine the outcome of the fracking application.
In Lancashire, Cuadrilla’s monitoring applications were decided at the same time as the applications to frack at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.