Next week, councillors in Nottinghamshire will decide whether to give the go-ahead to the first shale gas exploration in the county.
Council planners have recommended approval of the scheme at Springs Road, Misson, in Bassetlaw.
Here are two contrasting views of the planning application and the recommendation.
Statement by the applicant, IGas
IGas is pleased that the Planning Officer has recommended that Nottinghamshire County Council’s (“NCC”) Planning and Licensing Committee grant planning consent for the application to develop a hydrocarbon wellsite and drill up to two exploratory wells in Misson Springs, North Nottinghamshire. Within its application, and throughout NCC’s thorough assessment of it, including various stages of consultation, and through all the additional information provided, IGas has addressed the wide range of questions, concerns and comments raised by NCC, statutory consultees and others. This work is reflected in the Planning Officer’s Report together with the planning conditions proposed.
As part of its commitment to open and transparent communications IGas has undertaken extensive community engagement alongside this application including setting up a community liaison group which was convened in June 2014.
IGas businesses have been drilling wells and producing oil and gas safely and in an environmentally responsible manner for over 30 years and we will continue to uphold the highest standards in the future.
The Company will await the Councillors’ decision on this application on 5 October 2016.
Open letter from David Larder, chair of Bassetlaw Against Fracking
Because, at the moment, for health reasons, I cannot drive to County Hall in Nottingham, I will not be able to make this appeal in person to you next Wednesday 5th October. That is the day when you will take the decision to start the process for the first fracking in Nottinghamshire at Misson Springs.
There will be a peaceful, but vociferous, demonstration by ordinary people outside County Hall as you enter. This is to remind you that the surveys that have been carried out of public opinion in North Notts show clearly that over 80% of residents are vehemently opposed not only to fracking at Misson Springs but at Tinker Lane near Barnby Moor and Blyth.
The county councillors in Lancashire forced the situation into a public enquiry-with a Planning Inspector. They opposed fracking in their county. We await the inspector’s decision to uphold or reject the appeal by the fracking company, Cuadrilla.
However, if the Inspector’s decision is to uphold the rejection of fracking by Lancashire County Council, we know from Government statements that this will be overridden. In other words, in our locality, the same roughshod approach to local democracy, which is supposedly supported by Theresa May, will take place. The Labour Party has made it clear this week that it will ban fracking if elected into power. The French government, as well as many others, has done so. The Scottish government has a moratorium on fracking.
In the case of the UK, the Government’s obstinate dash for shale gas, is in conflict with the Climate Change Act and our international obligations to meet prevention of global warming targets. By the time the frackers have enough gas coming out of the ground by industrialising the North Notts countryside, this country will have gone well past the target dates. The purpose of extracting gas is not for domestic energy in the case of Ineos, which financially backs I gas. They want it for their Grangemouth operation producing more and more plastics that are also damaging the environment.
There is plenty of evidence from hundreds of peer-reviewed studies worldwide that the self-regulation of the companies-even if they are given “gold standards” to follow in the UK-is a planning weakness. Councillors cannot in all conscience apply criteria which has not been tested here. There are real dangers to our water supply and public health for the people who live near fracking sites. The huge numbers of lorry movements in themselves to carry in water and materials for fracking are a huge public nuisance. It won’t stop with one well. It cannot, if it is to be economically viable, stop with one well .I appeal to the councillors to have courage and stop the frackers in their tracks in Nottinghamshire. Make them go to a public enquiry. Force the Government to show that it is prepared to ignore the democratic votes and petitions of local people by overriding your decision to reject the application.
Above all, have courage to see the bigger picture. Fossil fuels should remain in the ground. If you really believe that climate change will harm your grandchildren with catastrophic floods around our coastline and hotter episodes of weather that will affect our food supply, then vote against the application. Don’t be King Canutes, ignoring the fact that the waves are coming in. Be brave and vote against the application. Vote for the people you represent.