Regulation

Permits granted to Third Energy for fracking in N Yorks

KM8 radius

The Environment Agency announced this afternoon it has granted permits to Third Energy to allow it to frack for shale gas at the KM8 well at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire.

Three permits cover:

  • Mining waste
  • Discharges into groundwater
  • Radioactive substances

The Environment Agency said the permits require Third Energy to comply with conditions that “protect groundwater, surface water and air quality and to ensure the safe storage, management and disposal of waste materials”.

The company still needs planning permission for the operation. Martin Christmas, the EA’s environment manager for North Yorkshire, said:

“We are confident that these environmental permits set out the right conditions to ensure that people and the environment are protected.

“Should Third Energy receive the appropriate planning permission and begin the permitted activities, we will stringently enforce the conditions of the permits to ensure that waste is managed properly and local groundwater is protected.”

Company reaction 

John Dewar, Operations Director, of Third Energy said:

“This is another important step towards having the necessary permissions in place to fracture the KM8 well and evaluate the potential of the shale resource to produce gas commercially. The permits cover, amongst other things, the frac fluid and the disposal of flow back water.

“The issuing of these permits demonstrates that the Environment Agency is satisfied that the hydraulic fracturing operation, including frac fluid which is non-hazardous to ground water and the disposal of the flow back water, can be managed without impacting on the local environment.”

Reaction from opponents and supporters of Third Energy’s plans here

Conditions

Before fracking, the permits require Third Energy to carry out baseline studies of air quality and surface and ground water.

The company must provide details of how it will monitor ground and surface water and supply information on groundwater monitoring boreholes, including how groundwater will be protected.

Before fracking begins it must also:

  • Conduct a well integrity test on the KM8 borehole
  • Publish the results of the well integrity test
  • Submit a written hydraulic fracture plan
  • Establish a seismic monitoring programme

Once operations are underway, the permits require the company to monitor groundwater for more than 40 substances at five onsite and six offsite boreholes. It must also carry out monitoring of air quality and the composition of hydraulic fracturing fluid

Third Energy said: “The company will undertake additional actions to ensure conditions attached to the permits are met, ensuring further and ongoing protections.”

It added: “Monitoring is important as it will show whether or not our operations have impacted conditions and provide reassurance to both the residents and the wider local community.”

Fracking operation

The EA said Third Energy must undertake real-time monitoring of seismic activity during and after fracturing. This includes monitoring the spread of fractures to ensure that they remain within the Bowland Shale formation, the EA said.

“We have stipulated that the operator report the results of testing undertaken to ensure we know this condition is being complied with”, the EA added.

“If propagation outside the Bowland Shale Formation should occur it will be identified by the seismic monitoring and the HFP [hydraulic fracture plan] will have to be modified to minimise the risk of it happening again; for example by reducing the volume of fracture fluid being used or reducing the pressure applied”.

Flowback fluid

Third Energy estimated that approximately 30% of injected fluid for each fracturing stage is predicted to return as flowback fluid to the surface. The EA said: “We consider these predictions to be reasonable”.

The EA added that it considered the fluid that would be retained underground was “non-hazardous” and that “leaving the retained fluid in situ within the Bowland Shale Formation is BAT (Best Available Technique).”

Noise

The EA concluded that noise and vibration were not considered to be an issue because of the background level of noise, KM8 is a rural site and is more than 200m from the nearest home.

It said it was satisfied that a proposed 8.7m noise barrier would control noise. “The potential for noise complaints is reduced further by limiting the noisier activities to daylight hours only”, it added.

Planning application

The granting of environmental permits is separate from planning permission. The planning application is being considered by North Yorkshire County Council and will be voted on by the authority’s planning committee. There is no date yet for when that committee will meet.

Links

Reaction from opponents and supporters of Third Energy’s plans 

Link to EA consultation page with onward links to decision documents and permits

EA press release


This report is part of DrillOrDrop’s Rig Watch project. Rig Watch receives funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. More details here

5 replies »

  1. So Third Energy are required by the EA to do their own monitoring and reporting. Is this an example of the robust regulation this government is insisting upon?

  2. So no waste disposal plan other than leaving potentially highly radioactive, high polluting fracking waste water underground to pollute for generations to come?

    Martin Christmas can’t even monitor over abstraction of reservoirs in the Yorkshire region and the EA in the county have many polluting incidents already complained about, with fishlegal having to take out court cases when fish get killed for example. (see their full list on website of how subscriptions they get are being used to shore up appalling EA due diligence of our water supplies.)

    Never mind wondering if the worst regulatory framework on the planet is fit for purpose why are we spending taxes on an EA which has no radioactive waste disposal plan, hasn’t any care for monitoring over abstracted reservoirs in the Yorks region, as well as failing to monitor high pollution from sewage plants, costing Yorks water a massive fine recently, and has squandered 2Bn on waste plants in Lancs Preston and nr Blackpool , now unfit for purpose, and further an EA which has so many failing and ailing landfill causing pollution around England , it’s BAT approach is the battiest measure for considering rape pillage and pollution from frackers.

    BAT techniques are what allowed high pollution in England to continue.

    The government is too busy helping offshore tax haven fracking sponsors whilst conducting fracking terrorist warfare on water supplies in the north of England.

    Barclays bankers aka Third Energy should be ashamed of themselves.

    Martin Christmas may need to check out all the studies in the US which clearly found that leaving frack fluid in the ground was the worst method of disposing of frack waste as it directly lead to a rise in EQ in so very many states. Yorkshire already has Ebberston drilling impact EQ the EA fails to monitor, and prefers to turn a blind eye on, not to mention landslides at Ripon, and sinkholes in other places.

    Clearly the EA hope for profit from the big sell of licences for fracking from Bowland shale in Yorkshire continuing all the way to Lancashire which has been the plan all along.

    Clearly frackers are running the EA, when taxpayers thought accountability is a due for tax paid.

  3. You can try contesting the permits. Good luck. I have seen this with a hydro scheme – a bunch of FIT chasers with no regard or understanding of the riverine environment and biodiversity. They are also resonsible for their own monitoring and reporting yet could not tell the difference between a sea trout and a salmon. Fish Legal were looking at it but backed down from a JR at the 11th hour (apparently). Not sure how the EA make money out of issuing permits?

  4. I have no confidence in the EA to deal with many of the issues that impact upon our environment – let alone fracking. Not so long ago there was a report in the Guardian where a journalist walking in the countryside came across raw sewage being deliberately pumped into a river by a farmer. When the journalist reported this to the EA, they eventually got round to investigating and despite the water course being very badly affected they did not prosecute the farmer as they did not consider this a pollution incident. Just exactly what do they consider a pollution incident? They are not fit for purpose and have lost all credibility. The EA has lost their sense of purpose and balance by being too accommodating to industry and polluters.

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