Councillors in North Yorkshire meet for the second day to decide on Third Energy’s planning application to frack its existing KM8 well at Kirby Misperton.
We’re reporting here throughout the day on the meeting at County Hall in Northallerton. The session begins with statements from people in favour and against the scheme. For a guide to meeting and the plans click here.
Councillors vote by seven in favour of the application and four against.
Chairman Cllr Sowray (Cons, Easingwold) said now was the time to think about how they would vote.
Cllr Robert Heseltine supports
Cllr Robert Heseltine (Ind, Skipton East) said there was a grave responsibility in deciding the application.He said he was asking himself whether there was a national need. We need to assess the current energy policy. This was incoherent, he said. We have been told, he said, that fossil fuels were incompatible with climate obligations. We were importing nuclear power from France, he said. We rely on others for our energy supplies. Would this application help with our energy security. Is the dash for energy security from fracked gas a short-term fix?
Cllr Heseltine said he was fiercely independent. The application had caused him the most anxiety of all those he had considered, he said. Not to follow the recommendation would have to put on one side planning policy and find other material issues to refuse.
Members can do no other than rely on the professionalism of the agencies when dealing with impacts. We must be satisfied whether their advice is consistent and accurate.
Cllr Heseltine said the twelfth member of the committee is public opinion but it is opinion, he said. It is entirely understandable that feelings are running so high. But is the fear of the unknown enough to refuse the application.
The government is clear on fracking, planning policy is clear, I can find no reason to refuse the application, he said.(boos from outsidet he hall). Are they cheering me, he asked. But I remain concerned about the legacy issues, he said.
Cllr Heseltine moved a motion to approve. From the heart and the head, he said.
Cllr John Blackie opposes
Cllr John Blackie (NY Ind, Upper Dales), a substitute member on the committee, said he had not found the decision so difficult as people had suggested. He said we are being asked to take far too much on trust. Regulation had not caught up with the technology. He said Third Energy had fallen well short of the mark. This is a classic application with cumulative uncertainty. I would have liked to have refusal on on the table.
Cllr Blackie said none of Third Energy’s 20 years involved fracking and we have heard plenty about fracking experience. Never once have you dipped your toe in the fracking pot, he said of Third Energy. He said there had been huge amount of work in preparing the officer’s report. But he said he could not agree with the conclusion. This application I would oppose, if it had been recommended for refusal.
He said he was disappointed in the report’s conclusion. He said it relied too much on the applicant’s information and assessments. He gave as an example the neutral impact, which he said was hard to accept. He said the shipping container screen would be highly damaging.
Cllr Blackie said all the statutory consultees had raised no serious objections but that makes me suspicious. How many of those who wrote the recommendations live within 75 miles of the site, let alone 75 yards.
It seems to me there are very large number of professors or doctors of note in Ryedale that hold opinions that are worthy of being listened to and I’m not sure we have.
They say this application should be refused. In each case, in the report, they get the same treatment that the applicant’s experts are agreed with. The objections are worth a lot more weight than they have been given in the report.
I expected greater scrutiny and challenge from this planning authoirity. We have been too easily satisfied and we haven’t gone the extra mile that this stacks up. I don’t think it does.
Cllr Blackie said North Yorkshire valued democracy. From the overwhelming weight of objections we should consider the link between democracy and local community views. I don’t think we have, he said. The massive weight of objection is a material consideration.
The health of the local community was underplayed in the report, he said. The views of the local GP Tim Thornton was hardly worth a mention. But there had been moratoriums on health grounds in other parts of the world.
Cllr Blackie said his greatest concern was on the impact of the local economy and this hadn’t been sufficiently mentioned. Tourism deserted the area after Foot and Mouth disease and some business never returned. Reputation took years to develop and weeks to lose. Fracking will go on for up to nine years. Don;t be under any impression that it will not be extended and extended. We could have fracking for ever.
There is no reference in the report of the extra employment that will make up for the loss in tourism when news goes viral that fracking is ok in North Yorkshire. This is a grave omission and it is an oversight by our planning officer. How can you say you overlooked economic prosperity and say you have done a thorough job.
Cllr Blackie said Castle Howard had come out against fracking. He said if this is granted as sure as god made little apples that others will follow. Objectors fear that Ryedale tourism, food and agriculture is doomed if this goes ahead tonight.
Cllr Blackie said the application breached the NPPF. The cumulative impacts are so significant that they will easily outweigh
It is a shot in the dark to approve this and I see no compelling reason for North Yorkshire to be the guinea pig when they have so much to lose. Cheers from outside.
Cllr David Blades – supports
Cllr Blades (Cons) I am confident that we have considered all the relevant issues
Cllr Peter Sowray, chair – supports
Cllr Sowray (Con, Romanby and Broomfield) says: Real fears have been expressed. We can take comfort from the views of the operations and monitoring by the BGS. Traffic is a major concern but it is for a short time.
The gas field has been in place safely for 20 years. I see no reasons why the operator will allow valuable gas to escape. I can’t see how tourism will suffer. I’m at a loss to see how farming will be affected. I accept that there will be a low risk of contamination of water.
If further wells are proposed they will have to go through the planning process. Nothing will prejudice that. We need a mix of different energy sources. We have a assurance from the EA that the fluid will be hazardous.
Cllr Robert Packham – opposes
Cllr Packham (Lab, Sherburn in Elmet) There are many issues to the objectors, he said. He said he felt the report was inadequate in some areas and he felt uncomfortable. He said he didn’t felt risks had been addressed to a point to grant planning permission.
He said there was no evidence to suggest that the US was less well-regulated than the UK. The control regime is only as good as the controls, he said. The issues at Preese Hall had not been addressed, he said.
Cumulative impacts had not been addressed, he said. Has anyone looked at an overall development scheme – I don’t think so, he said.
There has been no discussion of fear about health issues in the officer’s report. He questioned the accuracy of the 30-50% prediction of flowbac
Who is going to ensure that HGVs will cross the bridge at 5mph. He said the bat absence on the site was misleading. On the impact on tourism, he said the evidence was mixed.
I have information about regulatory regime in other countries. I am concerned about cumulative impact, public health, ecology, impacts on the economy. I will not be voting with the officer’s recommendation.
Questions from councillors
Cllr David Blades (Cons, Romanby and Broofield) asked about the legal definition of precedent. David Manley QC, counsel for North Yorkshire, said there are occasional cases where precedent could be relevant. He gave as an example a dormer extension on a terrace of houses. It would be difficult to resist future applications.
The fear of the opponents was that permission would set a precedent, Mr Manley said. But he said if, and when, future applications came forward they would have to look at on their merit.
Cllr Blades asked if insurance was a planning matter. The council’s legal officer said this a private matter and should not be considered for the application.
Cllr Blades asked how much weight should be given to public opinion. David Manley said public opinion could never be a grounds for refusal. Public concern about an application is a consideration. But if a concern is felt to be well grounded it should have weight. If it is felt not to be rationale then it should be given less weight.
Cllr Blades asked about the reduction of value to property. The legal officer said this is a private issue and not a planning issue.
On a bond, Cllr Blade asked about financial conditions on an application. The legal officer said this had been explored by the council. But she said it was felt that this could not be required. You can deal with only what happens on the surface. What happens underground is for other regulators. Condition 35 requires a detailed scheme for restoration and aftercare to be approved by the council before work can start.
Cllr Cliff Lunn (Cons, Selby Brayton) asked about the precautionary principal. David Manley QC said when there was a doubt about impacts on the environment then the precautionary principal would apply.
Cllr Bill Hoult (Lib Dem, Knaresborough)questioned whether the well complied with the minerals and waste policy. Vicky Perkin, the planning officer, said there was a policy to avoid duplication for infrastructure. She said the application was part of a network of wells that would feed into the existing infrastructure.
Cllr John Blackie (NY Ind, UPper Dales) asked about socio-economic impacts and the effect on local prosperity. The reports did not refer to the continued prosperity of the local community. Was this an omission or could it not be substantiated, he asked. It is a real key point, he said. Vicky Perkin said this was an oversight on her point – it should be in there.
Cllr Cliff Trotter (Cons, Pannal and Lower Wharfedale) asked if a 0.5 reading on the richter scale during fracking would this make the well useful. Ms Perkin said fracking would need to cease but something could be altered to prevent triggering the ground movement. It would not mean the well could be used.
Cllr Trotter asked how leaks a mile underground would be detected. Ms Perkin said experienced abroad were down to the age of the well. The design of KM8 and its age should have its safeguards in place.
Cllr Trotter asked how 40 conditions would be policed. Ms Perkin said operators were required to meet the conditions. The Environment Agency and the Mineral Planning Authority would be able to determined whether enforcement action was appropriate for breaches.
Cllr Robert Packham (Lab, Sherburn in Elmet) asked if there had been a response to a request for information on health. Ms Perkin said the environmental health officer of Ryedale District Council had given a more up-to-date response and the Director of PUblic Health and been consulted.
Cllr Andrew Lee (Cons, Cawood and Saxton) asked about flooding. Ms Perkin said the site was not affected by flood zones. Cllr Lee also asked about flowback fluid and the fracking fluid. Ms Perkin agreed that the composition of the two were different. Flowback could include NORM and metals existing in the strata underground, she said. This would be assessed when it came to the surface. The constituent parts may not be hazardous.
Cllr Lee asked if the flowback could exceed 30-50%. Ms Perkin said she was not aware of circumstances that would result in this. He asked about spills on the suface. Ms Perkin said the perimeter ditch had capacity to contain fluid. Contaminants would be pumped into tankers and disposed of at a treatment facility.
Cllr Lee asked if there was scope for flow to seep away off site. Ms Perkin said there would be equipment to capture flowback. It would not come to the surface uncontrolled. The tankers would contain the flowback or it would be treated on site. Cllr Lee whether surface spills could overflow the ditches into local watercourses. Ms Perkin said this would not happen
Cllr David Ireton (Cons, North Craven) asked who would police the 5mph speed limit on the bridge. Ms Perkin said this would be self-regulation. The highways officer said this applied only to abnormal loads. Cllr Ireton said we shouldn’t apply conditions that can’t be enforced. Ms Perkin said the condition had been tested for enforceable.
Cllr Ireton asked about how the application fitted with reducing carbon emissions. Are we going against what we should be doing as a country. Ms Perkin said the planning authority couldn’t require an applicant to address climate change at this scale.
Cllr Robert Windass (Cons, Boroughbridge) asked about a tank for flowback. Ms Perkin said open storage was not allowed in the UK. She said the flowback would not be seen. It would either be treated or tankered off site for treatment.
Cllr Blades asked about the volume of flowback fluid. If it were treated on site it would reduce vehicle movements. Ms Perkin said it would be a company operational decision. If the company is unable to make that decision before the first frack. Cllr Blades asked if the first frack was a learning curve. Ms Perkin said the assessment had been based on the worst case scenario.
Cllr Lee asked what situation would occur where leaks occur. Ms Perkin said she was not an expert. She suggested a valve might close off flows.
Cllr Cliff Trotter asked about bonds for covering costs to farmers. The legal officer said the council could ask in certain situation but not for compensation to third parties.
Cllr Robert Windass asked if planning procedure had been followed to the letter throughout the application. Ms Perkin said it had followed the process. The legal officer said everything had been done, in line with the legislation.
The legal officer refers the committee to the conditions on the application, should it be approved. She said an additional bat survey had been circulated.
A letter from Friends of the Earth had raised issues about KM3 and permitting regime. You don’t have to concern with the permitting regimes, she said.
A QC appointed by Friends of the Earth said the Environmental Statement should have address the relationship between the site and Knapton power station. The council recommended members ignore this.
The committee resumes at 5.15pm.
Vicky Perkin, planning officer – conclusion
Ms Perkin concluded that proposal was compliant with the development plan and there were no material considerations justifying the refusal of the application. She recommended the application be approved with conditions.
Vicky Perkin, planning officer – remaining issues
It is clear that energy and security of energy supply is a government imperative. Guidance makes clear that these considerations must be taken into account, Ms Perkin said.
She said opponents recommend refusal because of the legacy of the development and call for a bond from the company to cover any problems.
The community benefit scheme of £100,000 was not a material consideration, she said, and should not be considered.
There was a merit in seeking a mechanism to ensure that obligations were met. she said.
She advised the committee not to consider experiences in other parts of the world. She also referred members to the responsibilities of other regulators.
Vicky Perkin, planning officer – seismicity
Ms Perkin showed images of the distance from the site to faults. The minimum distance of KM8 to a major fault would be 900m, she said. Seismicity would be monitored within an area round the KM8 well, she added.
The KM8 is a safe distance at least 500m, of any fault of note. There is no credible evidence that fracking would reactivate an existing fault triggering seismic activity, Ms Perkin said. She added this was based on theoretical assessment.
Control over seismicity lies not with the council but with DECC and the OGA, she said.In light of this, she said, and the assessments carried out the proposal is considered acceptable to the county planning authority.
Vicky Perkin, planning officer – cumulative impacts
The applicant has acknowledged that cumulative impacts from other sites could arise if operations occurred at the same time. But it controlled these sites. Other developments such as Flamingo Land could have an impact. But they were not regarded as significant enough to warrant refusal.
Vicky Perkin, planning officer – socio-economic impacts
Light pollution, greater traffic volumes and changes in choices of holiday makers could have an impact, she said. But this was not enough to warrant a refusal alone.
Vicky Perkin, planning officer – waste and flowback fluid and public health
Ms Perkin said the volume and treatment of waste and flowback were raised in many objections. But she said the Enviornment Agency had issued permits and the planning authority regarded this as acceptable.
She said the council sought views of Public Health England and the Director of Public Health. The experts referred the council to conclusions of the PHE report which said risks were low if operations were properly run and regulated.
The Environment Agency concluded its permit would ensure “a high level of protection” for human health.
Vicky Perkin, planning officer – cultural heritage
Ms Perkin said the nearest heritage assets were the Church of St Lawrence in Kirby Misperton and the village vicarage. She said there would be no significant adverse impact on these assets.
HGVs would have to cross Kirby Misperton bridge but Ms Perkin said the bridge would be safeguarded.
Vicky Perkin, planning officer – lighting
Ms Perkin said the lighting column would be position inside the noise attenuation barrier and would be positioned to avoid light glow. The 8m high lighting towers are proposed to be on site for phases 1 and 2 for a total of eight weeks. The plans are regarded as acceptable.
Vicky Perkins, planning officer – traffic
Ms Perkins said the number of HGV movements had been reduced to 72 because of changes to the noise attenuation barrier. The workover rig would require 10 HGV movements in and 8 out. The workover rig would require 7 HGV movements in and 5 out.
The Highway Authority has accepted a survey on Kirby Misperton bridge, provided the speed limit is 5mph.
Vicky Perkin, planning officer – more material planning issues
Landscape and visual impacts
Ms Perkin said the main impacts would be in phases one and two: the 9m noise barrier (phase 1 and 2) 37m workover rig (phase 1) and 25m coil tubing tower (phase 2).The workover rig would protrude over the top of the ridge line from one direction.She said the Cliff hanger ride at Flamingo Land measured 55-60m.
Opponents said the proposal would be an unwelcome intrusion. Ms Perkin said the structures would be short-term and temporary. The proposal was acceptable in landuse planning terms for landscape and visual impact.
Ms Perkin said air quality could be affected by dust, odour and fugitive emissions. Some air quality levels might be exceeded at phases 1 and 2 around the site boundary. Carbon monoixide, sulphur monoxide, VOCs, and PM10 were unlikely to have an significant. Nitrogen dioxide would be more significant but unlikely to be post a substantial threat to attainment of air quality standards.
The events that would have the biggest impact would be from stationary vehicles, she said. They would be short-term and below the level of significance. In planning terms, she said the proposal was acceptable.
Ms Perkin said noise baseline levels were measured at Alma Farm, Kirby O’Carr bungalow and 5 Shire Close.
The noise barrier is now 9m, rather than 8.7m, Ms Pekrins said.
National noise guidance allows for higher noise levels in short-term preparatory work of 70 decibels, she said. Existing noise had been measured at 52 during the day and 30 at night. The environmental health officer has concluded the predicted noise would exceed guideline levels at Kirby O’Carr during phase 1 and phase 2. Five occasions of five hours of hydraulic fracturing would produce levels of 60 decibels at Kirby O’Carr, Ms Perkin.
The EHO did not agree the levels would be insignificance. But concluded that some disturbance was inevitable. He recommended restrictions on when fracking could be conducted (Monday-Saturday , 8am-6pm).
Ms Perkin said the application was acceptable in landuse planning terms.
Vicky Perkin, planning officer – material planning issues
Ms Perkin said there had been many concerns but the starting point for the determination of the application was the development plan. Proposals should be judged against the development plan as a whole.
The development plan comprises the North Yorkshire Minerals Local Plan. Ms Perkin set out the objectives of the plan, including sustainable use of minerals, safeguarding amenities and protecting the environment.
There were no specific allocations in the plan so each application should be considered on its individual merits. Hydrocarbons are seen as a national need and the application complies with the plan.
Hydrogeology and hydrology
Ms Perkin said water contamination was acknowledged as a risk but she said there were confinement layers or “super seals” in the rock formation which would prevent fracking fluids reaching water bearing strata.
She said the aquifer was at 400m but the highest fracture layers were at 2,1,23m. There are multiple layers of casing and cement seals in the well, she added.
Third Energy has put forward nine measures to protect ground and surface water, she said. These include the design of the well and the pad.
Having consulted the relevant experts on the proposal they have not objected to the application and the EA has had enough information to issue permits, Ms Perkin added.
The proposal on hydrology complies with the development plan, she said.
Effects on ecology could include dust, odour, emissions, noise, visual impacts, ground and surface water contamination. Ms Perkin said.
She said there had been objections about the effects of the proposal particularly on bats. The wellsite was not suitable for bats, she said. The eight weeks of phases one and two of the work were unlikely to give rise to significant effect in bat habitats around the site.
On great crested newts, she said there would be no loss of habitat and there would no significant effects. She said habitat for barn owls was sub-optimal so there would be no significant effects, given the eight week period for fracking and mobilisation.
Under the habitats regulation, the council undertaken a screening study. This concluded there would be no significant affects on designated areas. Third Energy proposes to provide bat and nest boxes near the site.
Vicky Perkin planning officer – representations
Ms Perkin referred to hacked emails. She said this was part of a police investigation.
As of an hour ago: the council had received 4,800 representations. Of those, 380 have been duplicated. Individual representations amounted to 4,420. Of those 4,375 were objections, 9 were comments and 36 were letters of support. 20 representations did not provide an address.
Vicky Perkin, planning officer – the application
Ms Perkin says the application is highly unusual. She describes the proposal showing maps and photos of the site and nearby properties. Trees around the KMA wellsite have matured but the area around the KM8 well is not screened by trees, she said.
She takes the committee through her report, which runs to more than 250 pages, and the appendices, which include the environmental permit information. All are available on the council’s website here.
Phases of work
Phase 1: workover (lasting 2 weeks): Installation of the noise barrier. This originally comprised shipping containers stacked three high reaching 8.7m. It is now proposed to have a single layer of containers topped with an acoustic screen. Installation of light columns and 37m workover rig.
Phase 2: fracking (lasting 6 weeks): Mobilisation of 25m coiled tubing tower. Demobilisation of the workover rig. Five fractures at depths down to about 3,000m. No further drilling or laterals wells. Fractures would be expected to reach 65m towards the surface and 65m deeper. On flowback fluid, Ms Perkin said 30-50% of volume was expected to return to the surface. But she said quantities and rates could not be predicted. Flowback could be treated for reuse. But if it didn’t return at sufficient rates this wold not happen. She said planners had taken account of traffic movements of both possibilities.
Phase 3: production or flow testing (90 days): the noise barrier and the coiled tubing tower would be removed and the temporary flowline would be connected on the wellsite. A lighting tower would be visible for the duration of the test.
Phase 4: production (nine years): this would go ahead if the company decided there was a commercially viable source of gas.
Restoration: the whole of the site would be restored in one go once operations on the whole site were complete. There would be no separate restoration for the KM8 well.
The committee breaks for the planning officer, Vicky Perkin, to prepare to give her report
Rasik Valand, Third Energy CEO
Mr Valand said he was responsible for the project since before the drilling of the KM8 well. We have shown you that a high level of the concerns have been answered, he said. Every single issue material to this application has been address and resolved.
We prefer as a local company to continue with the local planning process as far as we can. We have not taken any shortcuts. It is thorough and complete.
If our application is successful we will see it i as a huge responsibility to deliver on our promises not as a victory.
Many speakers said what we are proposing is unsafe or completely different. It is not. It is a tried and tested technique. After 8 weeks, the site will look and function very much as it does today.
At the start of this process, we started an extensive consultation, from local communities to statutory consultees. This followed by further consultations, he said.
Mr Valand gave his views on the key issues of the application:
- Health: no statutory consultee has objected
- Seismicity: we understand an extremely low chance of this
- Water: All the data shows all risk to ground and surface water are zero
- Landscape: any noticeable impacts are for a short and temporary period
- Ecology: There will be no significant impacts and no objections
- Traffic: There is a traffic management plan, which can and will be enforced
- Waste: We have a waste management plan
- Air quality: This will continue to be monitored
- Tourism: This has continued alongside the oil and gas industry and will not be damaged by the fracking but by campaigners
- Support: We have been told people support new opportunities
- Concerns: Few concerns are about what is raised here
Experiences from the US should not be applied to the UK because the regulations are different, Mr Valand said.
The application is to hydraulically fracture for two months at an already drilled well on an established site with no objection from statutory consultees and approval of the scientific and technical experts.
This application can only be considered on its merits. I urge you to decide it on the recommendation of the planning officer, Mr Valand said.
Written statements from supporters
Michael Roberts: much of the opposition is from outside Yorkshire who have misinformed local people with unsubstantiated claims. It is difficult for a decision to be reached.
Graham Marshall: a self-catering cottage operator in the North York Moors would benefit his industry.
Ken Wilkinson: He referred to complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority about statements made by opponents of fracking, including to Friends of the Earth.
Ms Allanson said she was brought up at Rains Farm and now runs a bed and breakfast business there.
She said opponents of Knapton Generating Station had said she was going to die. The family had just bought the farm. This had been an enormous achievement for the family. The worry and stress of the generating station plans was huge, she said. The campaigners lied, they made fools of us, she said. Nothing has happened.
Knapton Generating Station has been operating safely for 20 years. They were wrong. Now they have a weapon of mass destruction – social media. They can send scaremongering across the world. She read out headlines of the threat from the generating station from the time.
Ms Allanson said she was very excited when she found about the Bowland Shale. She listened to the scientists and experts and did her own research. She contrasted this with what she said was the questionable level of research of people who sent a template objection.
The only credible witness opposing the application was a engineer who, she said, admitted fracking could be done safely and supported the planning report.
Ms Allanson said opponents were wrong about tourism being negatively affected 20 years ago and were wrong now.
She said she paid taxes and contributed to the local economy. How many people out there – referring to the crowd outside – live in Yorkshire, she said.
We should be offering people more than just seasonable employment, she said. Are we just a playground for urban dwellers. We already live in an active gas field. If people object, why did people move here – because, she said, it was just not noticeable.
Ms Allanson denied she was an industry stooge but she was passionate about the prosperity of the area. I am convinced this industry would work exceptionally well with out industry. The British economy is being stifled by a minority group, she said. People expect power at the flick of a switch. Those same protesters held a demonstration on the beach in Yorkshire. They called it a line in the sand. It was not it was digging a grave for British industry.
Mr Watson said he was born in Ryedale and loves it with a passionate. He read a letter from a friend who had farmed at Knapton. He said he was tired of people telling what was good for farming and for his land. He said “I do not believe hydraulic fracturing will be a threat to my land.” He urged the committee to ignore what he said were unjustified claims about threats to farming.
Mr Zablocki, working at Third Energy’s Knapton generating station, described opponents’ comments as disingenuous and questioned their motives. He said he had worked for Third Energy for nine years and said his first job with the company was a career defining moment.
The company supports community engagement and is active in local education, he said. He was proud of the company’s apprenticeship scheme. This application is important to this company, he said. He urged the committee to remain strong and recognise the implications of a refusal on a local company.
The committee reconvenes at 1.30pm
Mr Grear, who works for Third Energy, said he had been closely involved in the drilling of eight wells, including four at Kirby Misperton. Where were the protesters then?, he asked.
He said Third Energy had provided opportunities for local people and for students in the industry. He said he had watched how the anti-campaigns had upped their game. Do not consult the integrity and work ethic of my colleagues, he asked.
Do not be affected by cries of foul or setting precedent. Would you stifle a child a birth for fear of what it might grow into. The already grown child is suffering at hands of campaigners from doing operations that would be standard practice. This has to stop
Lee Petts (audio recording)
Lee Petts is Managing Director of Remsol environment consultancy and chief executive of the Onshore Energy Services Group.
He said he was speaking on behalf of small and medium-sized companies in the supply chain for the oil and gas industry.
He said a North Yorkshire oil and gas industry could benefit the wider economy. He urged the committee to approve the application.
Mr Smart submitted evidence on air quality and waste to the Environment Agency for Third Energy’s permit application.
On air quality, he said there had been an error in impact assessment but this had been corrected. Organic compounds and nitrous oxide emission would be mostly imperceptible. He said monitors were on the site boundary and would heave measurements that would be greater than those at nearby homes.
On flowback and waste disposal, Mr Smart said the EA was satisfied with the waste management from KM8.
NORM (naturally occurring radioactive material) is present in drinking water at levels higher than those accepted by the EA for material from industrial activity, he said.
The best technique for dealing with flowback is tankering off and treatment at a specialist waste water treatment facility, he said. Third Energy has agreement in principal for treatment at two facilities.
Mr Smart said the radioactivity level of treated waste was equivalent to 25 brazil nuts on a window sill.
There are treatment facilities available to dispose of waste, he said. Treatment and disposal of waste is not new, nor confined to oil and gas activities.
Ms Atherstone, a chartered ecologist who carried out a ecological survey for Third Energy. The assessment was robust, she said, and there had not been objections from Natural England or the council.
There was no potential for protected species on the well pad and the surroundings would not be significantly affected, she said. Protected species outside the site had been considered, including bats, barnowls, great crested newts and brown hares. The assessment concluded there would be no ecological impact.
There are two ponds within 500m of the site. They were not surveyed because there was no risk of the species being impacted because the site had no potential for great crested newts.
Temporary disturbance would be minor because of the sensitive lighting scheme. Surveys of bats at Sugar Hill Cottage or on a hedgerow were not regarded as necessary.
The county council’s own habitats regulation assessment concluded there would be no impact on statutorily protected designated sites.
The scheme would have no significant effects on ecology. There have been no objections on ecology by statutory consultees.
Mr Corkill is a noise and vibration consultant and carried out noise surveys for the KM8 application.
The levels of noise are compliant with government noise guidance and limits for short and long-term developments, he said
“There will be no significant disturbance from noise”, he said and this had been backed up by the county council experts.
The predicted noise of the workover will be 42 decibels at the nearest house. There is a single property where levels may be a little higher, he said.
During the fracking and well test phase, the noise levels will rise for some short periods. With the noise barrier in place the level will be 65 at the nearest property and 52 in the village for five occasions for five hours over the six week period.
The impact will be only temporary. The highest day time noise levels will be lower than the guidance. Short-term day time noise levels of up to 65 are commonly experienced and accepted on a wide range of projects.
Once into production testing and at production, noise levels would be very quiet at 25 decibels. People living 200m would be most unlikely to hear any noise.
Kirby O’Carr farm is not protected by the proposed acoustic screen, he said, but it is already affected by the milking parlour at the farm.
Residents at Little Barugh would benefit from the acoustic screening, he said. The barrier would reduce noise to north, east and west of the site.
The predicted level at 5 Shire Grove are less than 50 decibels during the day during fracking.
There would not be high levels of noise during the 9 years of production, he said.
Mr Rockliffe is a director of a landscape consultancy. He said he carried out a landscape assessment of the 5km area around the site.
He said the tallest structure would be the 35m workover rig and 25m coiled tubing tower. They would be on site for 2 weeks and 6 week.The rig was lower than the Cliff hanger ride at Flamingo land.
The surrounding landscape was not remarkable, he said. The direct effects on it would be negligible. The large structures would be visible for 8 weeks. They would be replaced by low level equipment. This would be visible only from the footpath. Extra screening would be created by tree and shrub planting.
Beyond the eight week period, there would be no effect on the study area. It would not be visible from the National Park or Howardian Hilsl AONB.
There were no landscape or visual grounds to refuse the application.
Dr Phil Ham, Envirowater
Dr Ham is a hydrogeologist. He said he had 15 years working on water and specialised in private water supplies.
Envirowater had been working with Third Energy on water projects since 2012. It had worked on risk assessments on the fracking operation for the environmental permit.
The risk to water are essentially zero, he said. The hydraulic fracturing will take place up to 3km below the surface. The nearest ground water was 2km above the zone. There isn’t a plausible pathway between the fracking zone and groundwater zones. The only connection is the well itself.
The way the well had been constructed and the management of the site meant risk to ground and surface can be eliminated. The EA has issued permits for the work. Issuing a permit is not something that the EA has or could do lightly. There had been detailed discussions between the Agency and Third Energy.
The EA can only issue a permit if they believe the activity will not cause harm, he said.
His company had collected samples from within 3km of the wellsite. We are carrying out monitoring wherever we can. In the past two months, it had collected samples from the groundwater monitoring boreholes.
The monitoring approach had been developed with the EA and the British Geological Survey. The monitoring will help to allay concerns. It would continue during and after the developments. The results would be reviewed by the EA. Data would be publicly accessible when it becomes available.
There is an awful lot of scaremongering. It is easily for self-appointed experts to create fear. It is much harder to justify that fracking can be done safely. But that is exactly what we have done and that is why the EA has issued a permit for these works.
I hope you will place the relevant amount of weight on your officers’ recommendation.
Andy Mortimer, Third Energy
Mr Mortimer is the sub-surface director of Third Energy. He said he did research on same age rocks than those that would be fracked at Kirby Misperton. He has worked in the oil industry since 1991.
He said he had been responsible for drilling many wells, all done responsibly, including KM8. Over 100 wells had been drilled in the region, all the abandoned ones had been reclaimed safely and returned to agricultural land.
I am an expert on carboniferous geology and the carboniferous in the Kirby Misperton area.
Fracking at KM8 is highly unlikely to cause any earth tremor, let alone something that could be called an earthquake. Very few fracks around the world had caused any seismicity that could be felt by people. Any seismic events would be monitored.
Under 3 on the richter cannot be felt, he said. The Preese Hall frack caused 1.5 and 2.5 earth tremors, he said. The reason that occured was because the operator drilled a well in a region known to be seismically active, without 3D surveys and they intersected a fault.
This is not the case at Kirby Misperton. We have excellent 3D survey information. We have been able to map faults. The KM8 is drilled a safe distance away from the faults, he said.
The faults are very old, 250m years old or more. They have not been active since then. The energy causing them move has long since disappeared.
The Kirby Misperton area is seismically benign, he said. North Yorkshire has only had 5 earthquakes in the last decade. There was one last year. It was 1.5 on the richter scale.
We have put in place plans for a traffic light system. This has involved two seismic monitoring arrays, one by Third Energy and an independent one by the British Geological Survey. This will stop operations at 0.5. AT between 0 and 0.5 operations will proceed but they will be with caution. There are quarries near Kirby Misperton where the blasting signals are at 2.5. Trains cause a seismic signal several orders of magnitude greater than 0.5.
Third Energy will have experts monitoring the networks 24-hours a day, and the data will be made available to the public. It will be a very boring study because there won’t be much to see.
We will not cause an earth tremor that you will be able to feel.
Should we cause an earth tremor greater than 0.5 it will cause our operations to stop. That is a very safe margin to follow.
Dr Andrew Boroni, health consultant
Dr Boroni said he had reviewed evidence on health impacts of fracking and had given evidence to reports on and inquiries on shale gas.
He said Environmental Impact Assessments were difficult documents to navigate. He said there was a misunderstanding of the difference between hazard and risk. He said there were reports on health impacts of unnamed hazardous components of fracking fluids and evaporation ponds. But he said no UK regulator had objected to the KM8 fracking plans. Public Health England had no concerns on the scheme.
He raised the issue of benzene mentioned last week but he said the scheme would not generate benzene.
There was a high level of risk from the plan. He urged the committee too look at the Public Health England report on shale gas extraction.
Jonathan Foster, PPS
Mr Foster said he grew up in North Yorkshire. He said he had over 25 years experience of onshore exploration. He said his consultancy had supported Third Energy operations for over 01 years, including the drilling of the KM8 well in 2013. The traffic and noise impacts for that application were greater than for the current application, he said.
What a different the word fracking makes to an application.
I firmly believe the application has addressed every material consideration and meets planning policy and warrants approval. We appreciate there are concerns, many fall outside the regulatory control of the minerals planning authority.
There were no safety concerns from the HSE. He didn’t share the view that fracking was novel to the people who do it or regulate it. Fracking is done offshore and was carried out by the same staff and regulated by the same agencies.
The issuing of permits should reassure that pollution risk had been identified and mitigated to the satisfaction of the EA.
On seismicity, the operator had to produce a fracking plan which had to be approved.
Concerns that were within the mineral planning authority’s responsibility had been addressed in the application, he said.
On traffic, he said Highways Officers had made no objections to the development. Local businesses have co-existed with Third Energy for two decades. This was not luck, it was good traffic management.
Mr Foster said a traffic management plan had been submitted, with proposals for new speed limits in Kirby Misperton. This was not unenforceable, he said.The bridge on the traffic route was capable of carry loads of over 44 tonnes.
Third Energy is not the only business having to cross the Kirby Misperton bridge. How many HGVs does it take to run Flamingo Land. It takes large cranes to build theme parks (he shows a picture of construction at the park).
Local planning authorities should assume that regulatory regimes should operate effectively, he said.
This could be the first well to be fracked since Preese Hall. Every regulator with accountability will have every expert monitoring this in every detail
Ken Cronin, UKOOG
Mr Cronin said Third Energy was a key member of UKOOG.
In Yorkshire 12% of the UK’s gas was consumed. Manufacturing employees 1% of the population. 15 years from now, without shale gas, the UK would be importing half its gas.
He said there were four regulators: the planning authority, HSE, EA and Oil and Gas Authority. There was a good safety record. The industry had the greatest interest in ensuring it operated safely. The framework was formidable and there were no gaps.
The integrity of the well was ensured by the design of the well, construction and operation. This had already been done at KM8. A hydrogeological risk assessment had been completed and approved through the issue of permits.
Whatever chemicals would be non-toxic and stored on the surfaces in the correct manner. They will not permit the use of hazardous substances. The EA also regulates the storage of chemicals on site. The HSE regulates the safety of employees. All have been dealt with under permits of KM8.
All of these issues have been dealt with and regulated properly. There have been issues in the US, he said. But they were caused by differences in US regulations, which were not allowed in the UK. Fears are unfounded because of regulations in this country.
On insurance, he said there was little evidence to show a link between fracking and damage to property. In the unlikely event of an operator causing damage, it would be required to put it right. Operators had to be insured for environmental liability, loss of well-control. It is for the industry to be adequately insured, not for residents.
The EA will not allow a permit to be handed back until a well had been decommissioned properly. The industry takes its responsibilities seriously. But central government was responsible for legacy.
The industry has not been clear about well density and UKOOG has agreed to take this up, he said. The industry was working on a basis of 10 pads per 100km square. We have never been in a place of a pock-marked landscape and we have no intention of doing so .
On climate change, he said because of the North Sea greenhouse gas emissions had fallen because of the replacement of coal with gas. Even with a renewable energy system, gas would still be needed for heating, cooking and as a feedstock. Gas use would remain the same in 2030 as it is now, he said. The Committee on Climate Change says gas still has a role up to 2050.
The UK was dependent on imports, generating no revenue to the Treasury. Shale gas would have lower greenhouse gas emissions than imported LNG.
Are we happy as a country to benefit from using gas but only if it is produced somewhere else?
I support the application from Third Eneryg
John Dewar, Third Energy
Mr Dewar said he would be personally responsible for the KM8 well. He said he had been closely involved
£35m in onshore operations in the UK, all conducted in a safe and environmentally-sensitive manner.
He said there was no risk to safety or operations from an incident raise at the committee on Friday. He said Friday was the only time he had heard from a fracking engineer speak in support of Frack Free of Ryedale and that person said fracking a well can be undertaken safely.
Hydraulic fracturing is not novel. The volume of fluid is greater than conventional operations that doesn’t make it novel. The science is well-understood. The fractures at the widest point are the thickness of your finger and at thousands of feet underground.
KM8 would be less intrusive than drilling a typical well. KM8 was the eighth well drilled at the Kirby Misperton area. Life had gone on as usual. Drilling had not disturbed people or farmers. Visitors had increased by 36% at Flamingo Land during this time.
Very few of opponents were referring to the application. It raised questions of whether they had read the application, permit document or the officers’ report. Many misunderstandings occur and that they
He said the 9m shipping containers were not correct, not was it true there was no traffic management plan. Third Energy would not be using bioicides. Nine years of production would be silent. Completion would be green. We don’t want to lose methane through leaks. It was simply ridiculous to state that Third Energy would be using depleted uranium.
We have been conducting baseline studies on traffic, light, noise, air quality, health, water and other issues. The British Geological Survey was also monitoring for seismic activity and these would be made public.
He questioned whether opponents had the support of a majority of people in North Yorkshire. He had been told that people in the area were supportive of the gas industry.
Local candidates in the last election who opposed fracking polled 17% or the total vote between them. I firmly believe we do have a social licence to operate.
The MP Kevin Hollinrake’s observations in Pennsylvania were more accurate than those of objectors who also made a visit, he said.
The gas industry had been conducted safely for the past 20 years across the region, he said.
We have left no stone unturned in the preparation of this application. Nor has the planning officer, he said.
The truth will out, he said, finishing with a quote from Winston Churchill.
I urge the committee to do the right thing for Ryedale, North Yorkshire and the UK.
Start of speeches by supporters
A group of 14 speakers in support of the application begin giving its evidence to the committee.
The speakers include John Dewar, Operations Director of Third Energy, the company’s Chief Executive Rasik Valand, Ken Cronin, chief executive of the industry group UKOOG and Jonathan Foster, of Petroleum Safety Services.
The legal officer said there were a further 19 written signature on a petition against and an electronic petition against now stands at 2,900+. Legal advice from Friends of the Earth would be given to members during the day. There were also letters and emails.
The committee reconvenes at 10.50am with speeches from Third Energy and supporters of the application.
Outside County Hall a crowd of about 100 opponents of fracking are gathering
The last speaker against the application, Simon Bowens, is the campaigner for Friends of the Earth for Yorkshire and the Humber.
Mr Bowens said the application would fail to influence the radical decline in greenhouse emissions. Gas is not low carbon or renewable. The emissions from gas fracked at Kirby Misperton and burned at Knapton power station had not been assessed. They are required to be assessed and taken into account. It is a potentially a breach of the Environment Impact Assessment regulations..
The cancellation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) by the government has made energy policy out of date because it was essential for the use of gas for electricity generation.
This application does not reduce pollution, as required by planning guidance. Fracking for shale gas is likely to cause pollution because injection wells are 2-3 times ore likely to leak than conventional wells.
The transport management plan fails to address key issues, including risk to other road users.
On restoration, planning policy requires appropriate agreements or financial guarantees for novel techniques. Fracking is novel and it would be legitimate to require a financial bond. But the planners’ advice is that this is not needed. There is a conflict with legal advice and planning guidance, he said.
Mr Bowen said the council could not rely on the Environment Agency to regulate the monitoring of groundwater, required under the Infrastructure Act.
He said negative impacts on farming an tourism had not been assessed.
We ask that you consider the evidence and arguments before you and consider the harms that have been outlined. This development fails to comply with local and national mineral planning policy, he said. We urge you to refuse this application.
Mr Colenso, from Hovingham, six miles from Kirby Misperton, described the meeting as a David and Goliath moment.
The passion surrounding the issue was on a par with Brexit. But there was no referendum for the people of Yorkshire. Only the committee could decide. I ask you to take the right decision, the common-sense decision and turn down the application.
It was for Third Energy to prove the application is safe and I don’t believe they have done so, he said.The voie of the community has been heard. I ask you to take a decision not just on technical grounds but taking account of the majority of people who said No.
They say no because of excessive traffic movements, threat of seismic activity, negative effect on rural life, he said.
98% of the respondents remain unconvinced. This is democracy in action. It is impossible to predict the negative effect of fracking in future. Are you prepared to gamble the legacy of the area? If the application went through and the worst would happen and Third Energy were unable to restore the well.
To approve the application, you have to decide whether the 14 parish councils, five town councils and Ryedale District Council are wrong. Are Flamingo Land, Castle Howard and Sir Richard Storey and the 20 landowners he spoke for wrong? Are you convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the increase in light pollution and disturbance will not lead to falling house prices or a slow down in tourism?
The regulations are untested, he said. They are for offshore wells, not onshore fracking pads. North Yorkshire must not become a test ground. The safeguards are inadequate. They are not in place. Without them, this application should be refused.
We cannot make more countryside. When it is gone it is gone.
You have a people’s mandate. I urged you to take a leadership role that Lancashire County Council did last year and refuse this application.
Mr Mager said the planning officer’s report recommending the application be approved was not a sound basis for making decision.
He pointed to inconsistencies in the report, which said environmental regulation was controlled by the Environment Agency. Vibration, emissions to air and dust and management of waste fracking fluid are outside the responsibility of the Environment Agency. They can only step in when something has gone wrong and that does not amount to control. He said the HSE would carry out only a paper exercise of the well. It is not control of the site.
He asked why the report did not consider the failure at Preese Hall, where fracking caused small earthquakes, or problems at West Newton. I could not find any planning conditions to prevent an overrun of 8 weeks for work at Third Energy. The planners assumed the impacts of traffic, light, noise, dust would last only eight weeks. If that could not be enforced then the conclusions of planners were invalid.
Mr Mager pointed to faults in the KM8 vicinity. Where is the practical evidence that the technology was safe in the heavily faulted geology . The precautionary principle should be followed and the application should be refused.
Ms Houlston, a farmer near Kirby Misperton, said facts given by Third Energy had changed from 2013 to the present application.
She said the farm used water from a private borehole and water contamination was of great concern.
There was no insurance from any provider for contamination of water of land, resulting in poisoning of livestock or damage to crops. There was no cover for loss of value to land, she said. If there was contamination the farm would have to undertake a long and expensive legal process.
I am still waiting for an answer I asked in 2014 who is responsible for long-term liability”, she said.
This is about people’s lives whose families go back generations in Ryedale. At a meeting of regulators, one of them said he couldn’t say whether people would be farming if fracking went ahead. It did not reassure us, Ms Houlston said.
One major contamination from one shale gas well would see local food banned from sale, she said. If farming in Ryedale disappears so will the agricultural suppliers. Fracking would put four generations of work on her farm at risk. The fifth generations are already taking part in the business. Will Lauren get the opportunity to farm our land and raise her sheep if fracking goes ahead, or will that be taken away from her?
To give permission for this well, will set a precedent. The greatest threat to farming in this country comes from fracking.
Ms Hayhurst, in a statement read for her, said she farmed near Kirby Misperton, selling livestock across the UK. She said she was concerned about air and water pollution, threats to tourism.
She said she had invited Third Energy to the farm in 2014. Since then all the information given had turned out to be incorrect.
Professor Nick Cowern
Professor Cowern works for an environmental consultancy and is emeritus professor at Newcastle University.
He said he wanted to talk about methane emissions and climate change and the role of fracking.
He said increased concentrations of methane in the US were “strongly suspected” to be linked to fracking. Emissions had strongly increased since fracking came on stream in the US. Based on global ethane measures, it was possible to calculate that 50% of methane emissions were caused by fracking. he said.
The well completion process, pipelines and short-lived activity was responsible for greater methane emissions from fracking than conventional oil and gas, he said.
Professor Cowern said the description in the Third Energy application did not appear to be a green completion or a reduced-emission completion. This method has been banned in the US, he said.
The KM8 completion is likely to cause air pollution around Kirby Misperton, contrary to the planning officers’ report, he said.
There is no detail of methane emissions in the application or recent publicity, despite objections to the application. There is also no serious effort to monitor methane emissions, he said. A York University scheme uses only a fixed position monitor but this will not be able to measure total methane emissions.
In my opinion, having looked at the application the applicant has inadequate plans for handling technology for fracking.
The UK uses outdated figures from the IPCC on methane global warming potential of methane, Professor Cowern said. The latest figures concluded methane was 44% more powerful than the UK government used in its report on shale gas and climate change.
Fracked gas is worse not better than imported conventional gas. A report from the Committee on Climate Change on the impact of fracking on greenhouse gas emissions will be published by the government but not until after the decision of the committee is made, he said.
Fracked gas is worse for climate than coal, Professor Cowern said. He said people in Yorkshire trusted its council to do the right thing on climate change and the application.
Mrs Gough, an artist, said her grand children were the joy of her life. She said she would have doubts about them visiting
Increasingly difficult to develop new work because of the fracking plans. She had never campaigned before and became involved because of concerns about fracking. The stress had caused her to become ill.
She described answers from the Environment Agency as disingenuous. She said she had experience of regulatory failings by the gas industry.
My life will be blighted by the many detrimental effects of fracking, she said, referring to noise, dust, traffic, light pollution and vibration.
She said it was a disgrace that the planning officer did not insist on a biodiversity impact assessment of the plan. The beauty and diversity of Ryedale would be lost if wildlife was damaged by fracking.
Mrs Gough said she was disappointed that the pro-fracking lobby had a weekend to prepare its response to the opponent’ case. But she said opponents were used to working at at disadvantage.
She said Frack Free Ryedale was not, as fracking supporters claim, set up by people in London. Opponents were homeworkers, paying their taxes. FFR was a community group, formed in response to a meeting about Third Energy’s plans. She said members had come under personal attack from members of Friends of Ryedale Gas Exploration on its Facebook page.
We will not give up, she said. She urged the committee to reject the application for the sake of democracy and for the health, financial and physical, of the region.
First public speaker: Karl Boot
Mr Boot, an opponent, of Third Energy’s plans said he would reconsider his future in the area if fracking went ahead. He said the most educated and well-informed people would also leave. He said as the owner of a local brewery he had a vested interest in the quality of local water. He said the area would been seen as the UK capital of fracking. The reputation of Ryedale would be tarnished even before the rigs arrived. The successful tourism industry would be ruined and probably would never recover.
The impact of farming and tourism would be serious, he said. He found it hard to see the benefits. There would be few jobs and the industry was not economic. His brewery, founded in 2014, had plans to expand. He was building a business that would provide jobs for decades to come. Fracking was the wrong industry in the wrong place at the wrong time by the wrong people. It should be refused, he said.
Chairman of the committee, Peter Sowray, opens the second day of the meeting.
Opponents on Third Energy’s plans prepare in the grounds at county hall for a second day of rallies and speeches.
Councillors and speakers take their seats
Members of the planning committee and speakers are arriving at the Grand Committee Room at County Hall in Northallerton for today’s meeting.