A report by council officials in Ryedale, North Yorkshire, has raised concerns that fracking in the district could put off visitors.
The report on Third Energy’s plan to frack an existing well at Kirby Misperton said it could have a “potentially negative effect on visitor perceptions” and deter tourists.
Third Energy could be required to pay to redress any impact on tourism as part of its planning permission, the report suggests.
A local tourist resort has also said it has “massive concerns” about the prospect of multiple fracking sites in the area.
The report will be considered by Ryedale District Council’s planning committee next week (Tuesday 1st December).
The committee is a statutory consultee on Third Energy’s application to frack the KM8 gas well and will not take the final decision.
It is being advised to object to the application because officials say Third Energy has not provided enough information about the impact of its proposals on nearby historic buildings.
Impact on local economy
The report to the committee said:
“The council’s economy and community manager has expressed concerns with regard to the potential impacts of the development on the local economy”.
In an email, the officer said about a quarter of the jobs in the district last year, amounting to around 6,800, were related to the visitor economy.
“The purpose of this email is to remind you of the importance of the visitor economy to Ryedale”.
The officer asked whether “a package of measures” could be negotiated with Third Energy “to mitigate the potentially negative effect of fracking in Ryedale on the visitor perception and therefore likelihood of visiting”.
The officer said the company could make a financial contribution through a Section 106 agreement.
The final decision on Third Energy’s plan will be made by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC). In a letter earlier this month (DrillOrDrop report) NYCC asked the company for more information on the application. It also said any contributions to the community should be made through a legal agreement that must be drafted before the application was decided.
But officers at Ryedale District Council said:
“At the time of writing this report there are no mitigation proposals or submissions that have been drafted for consideration”.
“Multiple fracking sites a massive concern” – Flamingo Land
The Kirby Misperton site is under a mile from Flamingo Land, voted Yorkshire’s “most magnificent attraction” for two consecutive years.
In its response to the application, Flamingo Lane said it supported any initiatives that resulted in local employment. It also said it felt the anti-fracking campaign lacked “tangible evidence and/or case studies” to back up its arguments.
But Flamingo Land said it was concerned about what the ‘master plan’ might be for fracking in Ryedale.
Third Energy told a House of Commons committee it envisaged up to 19 fracking sites with up to 50 wells per site.
The resort said:
“Multiple fracking sites within Ryedale would be of a massive concern to Flamingo Lane.”
“This would change our visitors’ perception of what a visit to Ryedale represents and would exacerbate existing traffic problems on local roads.”
“We understand that ‘future proofing’ the current ‘Planning Application’ from hypothetical new ones that may follow is an impossibility but, we would request that our concerns are put ‘on the record’.”
Breach of planning policy
The report to Ryedale District Council also said Third Energy had not provided enough information in the application to assess the impact of fracking on historic buildings nearby, including a bridge over the Costa Beck. This meant the application breached national and local planning policy, the report said.
Ryedale council officers have recommended the planning committee object to the application, even though Third Energy has been asked for more information.
“The formal response of the developer to that request is not known and a number of possible outcomes remain’, the report said.
There was a risk, it said, that the additional information would not be provided and that NYCC would have to make its judgement based on the information it had.
“It is considered”, the report said, “that Ryedale District Council should respond on the basis of the information currently submitted”.
This is the second report from Ryedale District Council raising objections to the application. Councillors decided at a planning meeting on 10th November to defer a decision until Third Energy supplied more information.
They were told that lorries delivering to the site would cross the Grade II listed bridge over the Costa Beck. The building conservation officer said: “There is no proper assessment for the impact of the development on this designated heritage asset”. DrillOrDrop report
Third Energy had said in the application that “non-designated heritage assets” could also be affected if the application were approved. But the building conservation officer said there was no assessment in the application.
The company has agreed to carry out a study of the impact on the bridge and other historic buildings, such as Kirby Misperton church. But district council officers said:
“At the time of writing this report to Members no further information has been received.”
Other concerns in the report
Air quality monitoring. The planning application proposed samples of air pollutants would be collected fortnightly and the results reported to Third Energy within 20 days. The district council report said delays in analysis and reporting would mean monitoring would have no practical effect if there were problems. It was also concerned that there were no details of how or when smells from the site would be monitored. It recommended daily visual assessment of dust levels, the development of an odour management plan and real-time analysis of nitrogen dioxide at levels at the nearest homes.
Noise barrier. Third Energy originally proposed to build a barrier around the site from shipping containers. It later suggested an alternative Echo Barrier System. But the district council report said there was no evidence that the new barrier would prove equally or more effective than the original proposal. The council’s environmental health officer said: “I would object to this application unless such evidence is provided and can be assessed.”
Noise levels. The report said predicted noise would exceed the Significant Observed Adverse Effect Level at the nearest home, Kirby O Carr. It disagreed with Third Energy’s consultant that this was insignificant. But the council’s environmental health officer said:
“I do not believe there is sufficient grounds to sustain an objection to this activity on the ground of noise.”
Updated 1/12/15 to include reference in Flamingo Land’s response to the anti-fracking campaign