All the comments from members of the public in a consultation on oil production in north Lincolnshire oppose the plans, analysis by DrillOrDrop has revealed.
The consultation by North Lincolnshire Council on a planning application by Egdon Resources closes tomorrow (31 August 2016), after a five-week extension.
The company wants to produce oil, and possibly gas, at the Wressle-1 well near Scunthorpe for 15 years.
Egdon has said it has no plans to hydraulically fracture the well. But the application includes options for proppant squeeze (where water, sand and polymers are pumped at high pressure to fracture rocks) and acidisation (where dilute hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids is injected into the well to improve the flow of oil). Some opponents of the plans have said these techniques amount to fracking.
DrillOrDrop has analysed the responses from members of the public recorded on North Lincolnshire Council’s website up to 4pm today.
Of the 112 responses, all were objections. One respondent wrote:
“I feel this is the start of a disaster!!!”
“There are no precautionary measures that can make this process safe, indeed it is known that most of these fail over a period as short as 20 years.”
What opponents said
Key points made in objections included:
- Increase in traffic on rural roads and risk to safety of cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders
- Impact on ancient woodlands and nature reserves around the site
- Risk to food crops grow next to the site
- Increased risk of contamination of water courses and the aquifer, relied on by some local properties
- Production of hydrocarbons contributes to climate change
- Risk to public health of people near the site
- Egdon’s plans amount to fracking
Of the 109 comments which included an address, 99 (91%) were from Lincolnshire. A further 10 (9%) were from outside the county.
Women in majority
Of the 99 comments which indicated the gender of the writer, 63% were from women, 35% from men and 2% were joint responses signed by a man and a woman.
As well as the public comments, the council received a petition of 340 signatures opposing the application.
What organisations said about Egdon’s plans
North Lincolnshire Council’s webpage on the application also includes responses from organisations. These include the Environment Agency, Natural England, parish and town councils, National Grid, British Steel and groups including Frack Free Lincolnshire, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Earth.
Brigg and Broughton Town Councils both support the application. Brigg asked North Lincolnshire Council to impose a condition to limit increases in traffic through the town, while Broughton said its support was subject to:
- No fracking
- Investigations to ensure there was no danger of tremors or contamination of ground water
- The land was fully returned to normal at the end of the 15 years and monitored after this period
- Edgon Resources UK Ltd provided a bond to North Lincolnshire Council
Natural England and the Environment Agency have also not objected to the plans. The ecology officer at North Lincolnshire Council said direct impacts on protected and priority species were unlikely but he proposed measures to prevent pollution of water courses.
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust objected to the application. It said it was concerned about possible ground and surface water contamination and the impact this would have on nearby wildlife sites, including a site of special scientific interest.
Friends of the Earth was concerned that the council had not carried out a screening exercise for an Environmental Impact Assessment. It also said the application did not provide evidence of its impact on climate change and any mitigation.
Egdon proposes to drill two or more drain holes through the casing of the existing well to create boreholes into the Ashover Grit up to 100m long. The historic environment officer at North Lincolnshire Council said:
“There may be temporary adverse impacts on the setting of the Scheduled Monument at Thornholme Priory during side track drilling. The applicant has submitted insufficient information to assess this impact contrary to NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework) 128-9.”
British Steel has raised what it called “initial concerns” because the proposed site is 300m from its Clapgate pumphouse and boreholes, which supply the demineralisation plan at Scunthorpe steelworks.
The company said:
“Any loss of or reduction in supply of demineralised water … would have a significant adverse impact, potentially halting steelmaking and other operations for a number of days.
“We consider that there is a serious risk that any exploration and/or production borehole by Egdon at the planning application site could result in reduction to the water yield at our Clapgate borehole. This would result in insufficient raw water for our site demand.”
The company added there was “a serious risk” that chemicals used in oil production could contaminate groundwater to the Clapgate borehole.
National Grid commented that there were gas pipelines near the site and it was carrying out further investigations.
The environmental health officer at North Lincolnshire Council said there was potential for noise nuisance at the nearest homes within 500m of the site. The officer recommended a noise management plan and a construction environmental monitoring plan to deal with light and dust problems.
Frack Free Lincolnshire
The group described Wressle-1 as a “fracking well” and the development as “extremely dangerous” with “major risk and repercussions locally, regionally and globally” for climate change.
Frack Free Lincolnshire said:
“It is disingenuous of Egdon Resources to assert that ‘Our operations at Wressle will not now or in the future involve the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas or oil’ as this part of Lincolnshire does not have the specific rock formations that contain shale gas or oil. This, and their use of the term “proppant squeeze” is clearly intended to distract us from their true intentions.”
The group added:
“Public debate has been stifled from the start by refusing to acknowledge that the Wressle Well proposal is indeed an unusual form of fracking. This would alert people to the fact that extreme hydrocarbon extraction methods, untried and untested in the UK, are proposed for Wressle: for a fifteen-year production period.”
The first scheduled meeting of North Lincolnshire Council’s planning committee when the application could be decided is Wednesday 21 September 2016.
Updated 1/9/2016 to include link to planning application documents and comments