The gas industry welcomed the approval this evening for what could be the first fracked well in the UK since 2011 but it was careful not to appear celebratory.
Ken Cronin, of the industry group, UKOOG, (pictured right) said:
“It is not a precedent. It is a continuation. It is a first step – a step in the right direction. But we still have more applications to put in for more wells to drill. I would not over-estimate its significance. There was a long hard road to get here.”
Third Energy’s chief executive, Rasik Valland, said:
“This approval is not as a victory, but is a huge responsibility. We will have to deliver on our commitment, made to the committee and to the people of Ryedale, to undertake this operation safely and without impacting on the local environment.”
Asked by DrillOrDrop, what the company would do to heal a community wounded by the planning battle, he said:
“We don’t see it that way. We have continued working normally. We have done this for 20 years.
“We do have a reasonable relationship with the local community. We answered the objections and we continued to do so throughout the process. All the questions have been answered.”
The plans were opposed by 15 parish councils, five town councils and Ryedale District Council. More than 4,000 letters of objection were sent to North Yorkshire County Council, compared with 36 in support.
Mr Cronin compared local opposition to any onshore energy application, such as wind. He said:
“There will always been a number of people who are not happy with these applications. We should not forget the history of oil and gas operations onshore. There are over 250 wells and most people don’t know they are there.
“We look forward to Third Energy being able to conduct a test to see how much gas is under this area of North Yorkshire to power and heat homes and businesses.”
A statement from Third Energy said activity on the site shouldn’t be expected in the near future.
“We have conditions from both the planning authority and the Environment Agency to discharge. There are other consents and notifications required prior to receiving final consent from the Secretary of State. Then there is the normal commercial and project management work, such as the letting of contracts and ordering of long lead items.
“The purpose of this application is to establish if the gas seen in some samples in this hybrid sandstone shale formation can be made to flow, at what process conditions and for how long. If this flows then we will need to assess how it performs for some months before making any conclusions.”
Andrea Leadsom, the energy minister, quoted in The Telegraph welcomed the decision, saying the Government was “looking forward to the safe exploration of shale gas beginning and finding out just how much of this home grown energy supply is available to power our homes and businesses”.
“We’re very clear that fracking is a fantastic opportunity. It’s good for jobs, the economy and strengthens our energy security.”
Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, which is waiting to hear whether its planning appeals to frack in Lancashire have been successful, said:
“This will boost the shale gas industry across the North of England, providing much needed jobs as well as gas vitally needed to heat our homes and power our businesses.
“I commend the North Yorkshire Councillors who, following their own planning officer’s recommendation, carefully considered the facts before them and recognised that fracking will be done safely and securely with the right regulation and mitigation in place.
“We remain confident in the strength of our appeal case for our own applications to frack the UK’s first horizontal wells in Lancashire and hope for a positive decision later this Summer. “