DRILL OR DROP?

Breaking: Planners recommend approval of Third Energy fracking plan in N Yorks

Plans by Third Energy to frack an existing well near the North Yorkshire village of Kirby Misperton have been recommended for approval.

A report by planning officers at North Yorkshire County Council has been posted online this evening supporting the application. The council’s planning committee meets next week in Northallerton to decide on the plans.

The report said:

“Notwithstanding the acknowledged high level of public interest in the proposal, the application must be determined in accordance with the principles applying to the determination of all applications.”

“It is concluded that the proposals receive support, or do not conflict with, some policies in the development plan.

“It is considered that the development would not conflict with those polices seeking to prevent unacceptable harm from being caused to residential amenity, highways and transport interests, ecology, restoration and aftercare, archaeology, flooding, land instability and cumulative impact.”

The report added that objections covered a range of arguments include adverse impacts on climate change, surface and ground water, landscape, air quality, noise, dark skies, heritage, seismicity and local highways.

But it said the county planning authority was satisfied that mitigation to safeguard the environment, amenity and traffic were “appropriate and proportionate”.

If the scheme is finally approved approved it is likely to be the first well to be fracked in the UK since May 2011. That was when Cuadrilla stopped work at its Preese Hall well in Lancashire after two small earthquakes.

Permission, if granted, would allow Third Energy to frack five sections of the well down to a maximum depth of 3,043m. It also includes a production test for 90 days and production up to nine years.

The planners have recommended conditions covering issues such as smell, traffic, working hours, noise, lighting, air and water quality. Flaring will be prevented.

Background

Third Energy first submitted plans almost exactly a year ago to frack, test and produce shale gas from its KM8 well. It took three submissions before North Yorkshire County Council was willing to validate the application.

North Yorkshire twice requested extra information from the company and there have been a total of four public consultations, resulting in more than 4,000 representations.

Last month, Third Energy’s operations director, John Dewar, described the plan as his “crowning glory” after more than 40 years in the oil and gas industry. Speaking at a meeting in Scarborough for potential shale supply chain companies he sounded confident that the scheme would be approved. Earlier in April, the Environment Agency announced it had granted three environmental permits for the KM8 scheme.

But most of the representations to the council were objections, including a recent change of heart by the Flamingo Land resort in Kirby Misperton, one of the biggest tourist attractions in North Yorkshire.

There have also been recommendations to refuse from Ryedale District Council, all five town councils in Ryedale (Malton, Norton-on-Derwent, Helmsley, Pickering and Kirby Moorside), as well as the parish councils of Habton, Rillington, Great and Little Baugh, Kirby Misperton, Marishes and Normanby.

Meeting

The meeting of the planning and regulatory functions committee of North Yorkshire County council is on 20 May 2016, at 9.30am, County Hall, Northallerton, DL7 8AD.

The 11-member committee listed to decide the application is entirely men. It comprises seven Conservatives, three independents, one Labour and one Lib Dem.

Anti-fracking campaigners from throughout the UK are expected to take part in a Rally for Ryedale outside the council offices.

More details coming soon

Link to meeting information and the planning officers’ report


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