Misson decision day: key facts on IGas shale plan meeting


Nottinghamshire councillors meet in the morning to decide on the county’s first shale gas planning application.

The county council’s 11-member planning and licensing committee will hear arguments for and against proposals by IGas to explore, but not frack, the Bowland shale at a site in north Nottinghamshire.

New information from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust could block the development. The Trust said yesterday evening a 1969 legal covenant allows it to prevent “noisy, noxious or damaging activity” taking place on the site, which is next to a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Lawyers from Friends of the Earth, who are representing the trust, have written to IGas warning it that the trust considers its drilling is “likely to cause both nuisance and annoyance, within the meaning of the covenant”.

DrillOrDrop has compiled key facts about the meeting, the application and the site. We plan to post live updates from the meeting.

The meeting


Date: 5 October 2016

Start: 10am

Location: County Hall, West Bridgford, Nottingham NG2 7QP

Nottinghamshire County Council Planning and Licensing Committee:
Labour: Committee chair, John Wilkinson (Hucknall), Roy Allen (Arnold South), Steve Calvert (West Bridgford Central and South), Jim Creamer (Carlton West), Yvonne Woodhead (Blidworth)
Conservative: Committee vice chair, Sue Saddington (Farndon and Muskham), Andrew Brown (Soar Valley), Keith Walker (Balderton)
Lib Dem: Stan Heptinstall (Bramcote and Stapleford)
Ashfield Independents Group: Rachel Madden (Kirkby-in-Ashfield South)
Mansfield Independent Forum: Andy Sissons (Mansfield South)

Officer recommendation: Approval with 37 conditions

Presentations expected from: Nottinghamshire County Council planning officer, Oliver Meek; Misson Parish Council; Misson Community Action Group; Frack Free Nottinghamshire; Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust; IGas; UK Onshore Oil and Gas (industry body)

What the committee will consider: Whether the proposals are an acceptable use of the site; visual impacts; impacts on neighbours, the local environment, highway capacity, rights of way, historic environment and ecology; risk of contamination and flooding; consistency with planning policy; economic impacts.

The site


Map: Nottinghamshire County Council

Location: Off Springs Road, Misson

Size: Compound measuring approximately 240mx160m plus driveway and pull-in

Former use: Surface to Air Guided Weapon facility used to launch the Mk1 Bloodhound Missile. Known as the Rocket Site

Planning permissions: Consent granted in January 2016 for drilling up to four sets of groundwater monitoring boreholes, already drilled and installed

Security: Hoardings are proposed on the front of the site along Springs Road. Yesterday there were three security gates between the site and Springs Road


Nearest village: 3.2km (about 2 miles) from the centre of Misson

Listed buildings: Newland Farm House (Grade II listed) is 540m to north of the site

Nearest occupied homes: Prospect Farm (130m north of site) and Levels Farm (260m north west)

Nearby wildlife sites: Mission Training Area Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), also called Misson Carr SSSI, is 125m east of the boundary. Managed by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, it is designated for open water, ten, neutral and acidic grassland, dry oak woodland and nationally restricted wet woodland. Mission Line Bank SSSI is 1.7km away and the River Idle Washlands SSSI is 1.9km away.

District: Bassetlaw

Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence area: PEDL140


The proposal

Application submitted: October 2015

Proposed development phases:

  1. Site construction (14 weeks)
  2. Drilling: rig mobilisation and demobilisation; one vertical well into shale formation to 3,500m (14 weeks); one well drilled vertically then horizontally (19 weeks). Total duration 39 weeks.
  3. Suspension of the wells and assessment of results (14 weeks)
  4. Well abandonment, decommissioning and restoration (14 weeks)

Fracking: This is not proposed but IGas has said it may apply in future for permission to flow test the wells, when fracking may be used.

Wellpad size: 100mx80m

Drill rig height: Described by IGas as 57m

Other equipment on site during drilling operations: Includes blowout preventer; choke manifold (valve to lower pressure); shale shakers (remove large solids from drilling fluid); degassers (remove gasses from drilling fluid); centrifuge; diesel-powered generators; power distribution unit; power control room; hydraulic power unit; tanks for diesel, oil-based mud, water, cement; drill mud pumps and tanks; drill casing storage area and pipe rack; equipment for drilling cutting handling, mud logging, well cementing, wireline logging, slick line and directional drilling; drilling motors; coiled tubing; offices and staff accommodation; lighting.

Daily traffic movements:

  • Well site construction: 36 heavy goods vehicles movements (18 in and 18 out or approximately one every 20 minutes for 12 hours) – 82 days; 20 light vehicles movements (10 in and 10 out) – 77 days
  • Rig mobilisation and demobilisation: 12-16 HGVs movements; 10 light vehicles movements
  • Drilling: 10 HGVs movements – 228 days; 40 light vehicles movements – 228 days
  • Evaluation: 10 light vehicles movements (no HGVs)
  • Restoration 36 HGVs movements and 20 light vehicles movements

Working hours: 24 hours a day during drilling; other activities 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 7am-1pm Saturdays.



Three consultation periods Autumn 2015 (8 weeks), April/May and July/August

Individual responses: 2,629 at the time of the officer’s report, of which all but six were objections.

Organisation responses: 55 responses, of which 44 made no objection and 11 did.

No objections subject to conditions: Organisation included Bassetlaw District Council; Coal Authority; Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council; Environment Agency; Health and Safety Executive; Highways England; Lincolnshire County Council; Natural England; Network Rail; Nottinghamshire County Council departments; parish councils of Finningley, Mattersey and Everton; Public Health England; Yorkshire Wildlife Trust; water companies (Anglian Water Services Ltd, Yorkshire Water Services Ltd, Severn Trent Water Ltd)

Objections: Organisations included Misson and Blaxton Parish Councils; Bassetlaw Against Fracking; Frack Free Nottinghamshire; Friends of the Earth and the Nottinghamshire branch of the organisation; John Mann MP; Misson Community Action Group; Nottinghamshire branches of CPRE and the Wildlife Trust; RSPB; The Ramblers

Misson Parish Council Survey: This found that 87% of residents who participated opposed the application, 4% were in favour and 9% undecided. 396 of the 520 residents on the electoral register took part.

Petition: 363 signatures of people opposed to the application

Last minute pleaThe Mansfield Chad reports legal advice provided Friends of the Earth’s Rights & Justice Centre to Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust that the operations would be in breach of a longstanding restrictive covenant which prevents noisy, noxious or damaging activities at the proposed drilling site and the SSSI managed by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.

Planning policy

Local minerals policies: Nottinghamshire’s Minerals Local Plan (adopted 2005) and the emerging Minerals Local Plan, not yet approved. The emerging plan includes a policy that applications for exploration, appraisal or extraction of hydrocarbons will be approved only if they do not adversely affect the local environment or nearby communities.

Other local policies: Bassetlaw Core Strategy; Misson Neighbourhood Plan

National policies: National Planning Policy Framework; Planning Policy Guidance on Minerals


The application

The planners’ recommendation

Meeting details

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

14 replies »

  1. I think it unlikely that fracking the UK shale will be viable, at scale, and it is only at scale i.e. at high volumes, with bore holes saturating the shale layer, when it becomes commercially viable. But one area of Britain may have to be sacrificed before people wake up to its ugly reality: big (frequent) trucks vs narrow roads through highly populated areas, an increasingly industrialised landscape outside of the villages, with pad sites with 10 or more wells (per pad) every couple of miles, then there’s the increasingly contaminated groundwater and polluted air into the bargain. The vested interests, politicians and and other promoters are either lying through their teeth or completely deluded in denying that this is the case.

    I pity the area(s) that may have to get sacrificed. I know how the British love their rural landscape … but inevitably it will be like the old ‘third rail danger’ – touch it and you die.

    Poland was supposed to be an easier proposition to frack than the UK but two large O&G companies have pulled out of there already.

    PS… on the face of it iGas looks like a pretty respectable company. I wonder what their take on protecting the environment versus protecting the bottom line is.

    • Hate to let a fact get in the way of a good argument but Cuadrilla estimated that there would be less than six lorry movements per day during the exploration phase of the Fylde site. I guess the same as the average supermarket.

      “Bore holes saturating the shale layer” – that’s 5000 feet down, 4000 ft below the water table. No evidence for water contamination except for early cowboy operators in the USA who failed to seal the top of the wells properly. do you think Cuadrilla etc are going to allow that to happen here given what’s at stake, absolutely not.

      They’re won’t be well pads every couple of miles, unless each development goes through the planning process.

      If you want to see an area sacrificed drive up the Northumberland coast from Newcastle and look at the wind turbines. Incidentally I’m not against them, wind will be part of energy supply from now on – again it’s cost versus benefit, every time I walk in the country from my house I bypass a huge string of electricity pylons, unpleasant but necessary.

      • Tell me Mark – what percentage of times do think you could get cement to surround the outside edge of a drilled well, between steel and the geology, to completely surround and bind to all surfaces at all points of the 1 inch (roughly) gap over the 1000-2000 ft height or more (i.e. the height necessary to get it safely below and well beyond all ground water)? – given that the drill and shaft has proceeded through various cavities, irregularities, fissures and aqueous layers over its travel. Then once hardened there must be no failure or cracking when the well is subjected to 10,000 psi of pressure and the vibration of many thousands of horsepower of the (diesel usually) pumping engines in around 20 bursts per frack – about one per hour over 20 hours (per well). Then over the next five or so years the same well will get re-fracked three or more times. Beyond all that your cement must not crack for at least the next 20-30 years.

        Please give me your estimate – which I gather you imagine to be 100% (but you might wish to revise that) – and I’ll get back to you with a scientific study of the measured failures.

        One of your other points … “There won’t be well pads every couple of miles, unless each development goes through the planning process.” N.B. There wouldn’t be any exploration if they weren’t hopeful that it could lead on to full scale development for commercial exploitation. That’s how the economics works. The exploration phase is the thin end of the wedge.

        • Well, Phillip, the experience in the US, where they have drilled almost 2 million wells has been very good. Casing failure rates are incredibly low and are dropping. It’s an odd place for you to focus your attention, but hey, it takes all kinds!

          • Peeny – you perhaps don’t understand the difference between casing failure and overall well integrity – see my responses further down the thread (with link).

            Great science “.. the experience in the US … has been ‘very good’. ” . N.B. except where it has been a very bad experience!

          • 4 borehole drilled on a single site here (Broadmeadows, Canonbie.)
            SEPA subsequently confirmed flawed construction in all 4 (no cement below 400m) May have contaminated aquifer. D&G Council subsequently renewed Planning consents. #keepitintheground

    • Philip, just to make the point that we don’t know if fracking will be viable at scale simply because it hasn’t been tried yet. All that is being asked by the companies is that they be given an opportunity to try.

      Regarding Poland, as I understand it the government there were quicker to embrace shale but the geology proved unsuitable and, as you say, the companies mostly pulled out. This of course is par for the course in o&g exploration, many new projects come to nothing. This way be the case in the UK, or it could be a success, reducing gas prices by half, as it has done in the US. Again we won’t know until we try.

      By the way it was interesting to watch the Tory conference yesterday and ministers being quite brave by saying we will need to build loads more houses for the next generation, I think with the message was that the housing need will need to outweigh NIMBY-ist concerns. I guess I feel something similar about shale gas exploration.

  2. The Officer needs to be very sure the 37 conditions meet the 6 point test, a planning requirement which only allows conditions if they are

    i. necessary;
    ii. relevant to planning;
    iii. relevant to the development to be permitted;
    iv. enforceable;
    v. precise; and
    vi. reasonable in all other respects.

    Cuadrilla have recently approached Lancashire County Council for pre planning advice on altering where noise monitoring equipment is installed at the Becconsall site. This would be allowing the company to make more noise on the site and altering a condition that was placed when the application was granted.

    Conditions are being used to get applications passed and then they are being varied to suit the applicant’s need.

    All conditions placed should be considered carefully by those opposing the application and objected to if they do not meet the criteria of the 6 point test.

    It is a dangerous loophole that needs careful consideration.

  3. John, you seem completely anti-shale yet supportive of N Sea gas production, this in spite of the fact that the climate change issues are very similar, you are burning a fossil fuel and producing carbon dioxide. What’s the difference.

    • It’s called ‘sleeping with the enemy’. Brother against brother. My shit don’t stink your does (in this case my gas don’t stink your does). Or in short, double standard.

      • Just a follow up on the climate change issue… fracked shale-gas, along with it’s fracked coal seam counterpart, is proving to have the highest carbon footprint of all fossil fuel industries. Parallel studies from ground-based, airborne and remote sensing (satellite telemetry) are proving this to be the case. This was predicted several years ago by Dr Ingraffia of Cornell University and with the industry itself having failed to do its own base-line studies and diligent self monitoring it is only becoming established knowledge now. Methane leakage from rogue emissions and migration, from beginning to end of the the entire industrial process, is the main culprit – and it doesn’t get better over time, it gets worse.

        Newer hi-res methane plotting instruments will aboard an EU satellite to be launch in 2017. That well help settle the atmospheric matter (of leaky shale gas wells).

        If the UK is binding itself to the Paris guidelines this factor has to be considered.

        • Phillip, you are dead wrong on this count. Fugitive gas emissions are dramatically below the figures you assume. The studies you cite didn’t directly associate increasing levels of methane with gas operations, and since those studies were published it has been shown that the high levels of methane were more likely associated with agricultural operations and coal extraction projects.

          What we know is more costly to the environment is importing gas from across the ocean. Make no mistake about it, Britain will continue to use gas for a long, long time. It’s just a question as to whether it should be low impact domestic gas or higher impact, more expensive foreign gas.

          Wake up my man!

        • Peeny. I haven’t ‘assumed’ anything and I prefer my data to your dogma. I am not an alarmist – just trying show that there is just cause for concern if not alarm. A significant proportion of wells leek. Atmosphere and groundwater has and does get contaminated. These are facts – get over it.

          The settlement for the Dimmock (contamination) case in the States was for over 4 million dollars but the reason for all the suppression and continued denial, even at official levels, is because to admit culpability (by any of the responsible parties, including environment agencies) is to risk exposure to claims of incalculable cost – there’s no magic wand that will decontaminate an aquifer once polluted. The standard cover up sees people being bought off with gagging orders attached to quite large sums of money, and ‘buffalo tanks’ supplied to to each household – to give them separate fresh water from their mains supplies. But the truth cannot be covered up forever.

          The way you make stuff up is almost funny e.g. ‘The studies you cite… etc’ … I haven’t offered any citations – you’ve just invented some off the cuff story hoping no one will notice – making up your mind about some evidence I might present ahead of my presenting it. You’ve demonstrated a textbook example of prejudgement or prejudice.

          OK – here’s a paper worth citing (bear in mind that shale gas well leak rates are far higher that conventional wells – for reasons that should be clear if you read my challenge to Mark above)

          Now, what sort of fancy footwork and obfuscatory nonsense are you going to come up with next?

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