Regulation

Breaking: Refusal of Egdon oil production plans at Wressle, Lincs

wressle

In the past few minutes, councillors in Lincolnshire have refused planning permission to Egdon Resources for 15 years of oil production at its Wressle site near Scunthorpe.

North Lincolnshire Council’s planning committee voted by 6 to 3 against the application, with one abstention, despite the recommendation of officials to approve.

The committee said the officer’s report did not have enough information to allay concerns about risks to the local environment and economy and threats of water contamination.

They repeatedly said they had no confidence in the Environment Agency to monitor and regulate the site.

The vote was greeted by cheers from spectators in a neighbouring room.

Egdon’s plans include options for proppant squeeze and acidisation, techniques to inject a slurry of sand and gelled water or dilute hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acid into the well. The company has said production would not, now or in the future, involve high volume hydraulic fracturing.

It argued that the proposed operations were “conventional”. Opponents said proppant squeeze and acidisation had not been properly tested and effective monitoring was not possible. Frack Free Lincolnshire said:

“Public debate has been stifled from the start by refusing to acknowledge that the Wressle Well proposal is indeed an unusual form of fracking.”

Councillors arriving for the meeting, at the civic centre in Scunthorpe were greeted by a small demonstration of people opposed to the application.

There had been more than 200 objections to the application, including one from British Steel, which was concerned about its water boreholes nearby, another from Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. Town councils at nearby Broughton and Brigg supported the application. The Environment Agency and Natural England did not object.


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

45 replies »

  1. There still seems to be a sparse understanding of the planning process. It is not up to the councillors to make decisions outside of set planning procedures. They are advised by a planning officer. The procedure is designed to avoid mayhem, where it would be possible, and easy, to manipulate share prices in a company involved for an individuals own ends, apart from it creating complete unjustified variation in decisions across the country.
    If Egdon,or other parties (including shareholders) were to appeal then the appeal has to decide whether there were reasons to reject that were valid. Remember the planning meeting is recorded. What may be valid is clearly established, and that is what would be considered.

    Thanks for your advice, refracktion! I have made a decent return from IGas, already. I am sure another opportunity may be there in the not too distant future.

  2. There is an interesting trend here that shows that the pro fracking objectors (PFO’s) are displaying a contempt for legal process if it does not fit with their agenda of what may be described as ‘frack at all costs’. This attitude has emerged from the fray that for any legal planning process, the message seems to be that the Councillors must agree to fracking or be punished for doing so by counter appeals and the threat of being financially abused if the decision goes against the only outcome that can be tolerated by the PFO’s, there has been much discussion on the democratic principle in posts, regarding the lack of provision of democratic appeal and the overturning of democratically arrived at planning decisions, to the rights of peaceful protest and the operation of policing and how the public is treated and villified if they dare to stand up to private profit oriented corporations companies and conglomerates.
    We have seen peaceful protest being termed as extremist and terrorist, fines and court costs levied at councils when the prime mover to prosecute is the corporations, not the councils or courts, and we see in these posts how any hint of supporting a planning council decision to refuse planning permission to exploration and resource exploitation is jumped on and multiple posts claiming ‘misfeasance’ i believe that to mean ‘malfeasance’ threats of suing the Councillors (though i see the word was miss-spelled) threats of court costs and even somewhat bizarrely, cries to force Councillors to pay for millions in lost revenue by the claimants.
    The opponents to the oil and gas industry’s moves to industrialize the English landscape, particularly it seems in England’s most beautiful heritage sites (why is that?) to me at least are saying what to anyone should be painfully obvious, that the fracking and gasification and depletion of the countries natural resources contravenes all the precepts of the recent agreement to limit climate change by reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and stopping further extraction and increasing the funding of renewable sources to make up the difference. There are of course cries of ‘no wind’ and ‘no sun’ but renewable sources are not restricted to wind and sun and never have been. Recent advances in technology, methodology and efficiency will quickly overcome these objections. The biggest problem facing industrialized mankind at the moment, is storage of energy and that should be the focus of our efforts, not polluting what little remains of our countryside with dangerous and demonstrably inefficient and wasteful untried and unproven technologies that include injecting poisons into the earth. it may be interesting to note that there are all ready the most amazing and far reaching advances in clean energy production, storage and efficiency which far outweighs the need to extract more fossil fuels anywhere, they do not rely on wind or sun, they use clever physics to overcome the restrictions of old technology and move the whole process towards a future where energy will be cheap if not free, efficiency will be closer to 60% if not higher, storage will be solved and at last the human race can move towards a brighter future, one that has alluded us so far. You may research those advances yourselves.
    There are of course obstacles that have so far stood in the way of the future, one is the monopoly and control of the fossil fuel industry, another is the myth of greater profits from relying on old technology and squashing new technology, a process that has been going on for at least one hundred years and perhaps longer. Another is mind set, by that i mean that many are happy with things the way they are, they are comfortable with the known, even if it is inefficient and results in a disastrously poisoned environment for our children, the status quo ensures perceived comfort, but in fact is far from it. Also of course there is the financial myth, that vast fortunes are made by vested interests and that fills many rice bowls, for some it fills so many more rice bowls, they could feed the whole planet and not notice it. The fact that they don’t says something else about the unfettered and criminal process of forcing the majority into slavery and feeding the 1% with more rice bowls that they could ever use, it becomes an influence power base, and we see that everywhere, the desperate need to preserve the power and privilege of the few above the virtual and financial and political and democracy poverty of the many.
    Will we ever advance and finally grow up as a species and become intelligent in our drive to be self sufficient in energy? That is perhaps a topic for another forum, and i would not clutter these pages with that, at least for now.

    • Phil C – no contempt for the planning process, just commenting on what happens next (possibly). Unless the Planning Officer got it wrong, or British Steel pull a rabbit out of their hat, the Oil Company will win the Appeal. You don’t seem to understand the process. If the Planning Officer had recommended refusal on sound planning conditions there would be no appeal, or if there was an appeal, the oil company would probably lose. It is yourself that is “displaying a contempt for legal process if it does not fit with their agenda of what may be described as ‘don’t frack at all costs’.” The legal process may continue in the form of an Appeal. Why is this an issue for you?

      • Sorry Phil C – for this particular application I should have said ‘don’t produce hydrocarbons at all costs”‘

      • A tiny extracted point and very selective amongst everything i said here, but to side track a moment, its not an issue for me alone as you very well know and has been illustrated here, but for any person and County Council who wishes to refuse the offer of extracting more fossil fuels in their back yard. That however is not the point is it?The point Paul, is that we need to establish the future and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels that have an 85% monopoly on energy production, heating vehicle propulsion etc.
        We have wasted more than 100 years and now the situation is exponentially more urgent than it has been in at least the last fifty years. Its so simple its almost crass to keep saying it, but say it i will, yet again, fossil fuels are a dead end, not only does it support the present patently divisive and destructive power base, it pollutes, it destroys health and lives across the world and it is soon to do so here in England.
        We must as a matter of urgency begin to invest in storage, renewable alternatives, not just wind and solar, which are the only renewables the PFO’s seem to be aware of, there are so many incredibly advanced processes being developed that are the ones we must concentrate on, Quantum energy Generation, see below for link.

        http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/10/11/multiple-scientists-confirm-the-reality-of-free-energy-heres-the-proof/

        I am not a Luddite, in spite of that epithet being aimed at anyone who objects to having a dangerous industrial process in their immediate vicinity and destroying local beauty spots with razor wired off no go exclusion zones.
        Until i see we are actually not only just talking in endless debate about a real energy secure future, but actually spending some of that tax revenue on a secure renewable future instead of the short term exploitation the deliberately ill informed defenseless resource of the British tax payers good will,
        i will keep saying so and i will not stop until i actually see some positive movement on true renewable energy security which will last for the foreseeable future, not just a few highly profitable years of pointless destruction of the environment when the answer is all ready in our hands.
        Why is that an issue for you?

        • Phil C – I thought we were discussing the legal (and planning) process as it is the subject matter of this post?

          Renewables are not doing it / can not do it yet / will not do it for the next 20 or 30 years according to all the predictions / forecasts I have seen, without gas. I don’t care if it is fracked UK gas, John Powney offshore UK North Sea gas, gas from Troll, gas from Groningen, from Qatars North field, from Iran’s South Pars or US shale gas, we need gas. The more renewables of the intermittent type installed, the more gas we need. Look at 2015 vs 2016 UK electricity production. Gas took up the drop in coal usage not renewables even though renewables capacity increased in the UK (wind production was down with higher capacity, demonstrating that it is not always windy somewhere.

          Renewables can do it (for electricity only) in countries with small populations and good geography and rainfall for hydro power aka Norway, British Columbia (not a country, I know), Costa Rica……

      • Fascinating inversion? I support the planning decision to refuse the application, hardly contempt is it? However posts on these pages refer to “misfeasance” meaning one assumes “malfeasance” and cries to sue the coucillors that is demonstrably contempt for the planning process, if you support that attitude, then plainly the cap fits you also. I would appreciate it is probably written in ire, but that does not excuse the evident contempt, or indeed the spelling or the ignorance of the planning process, I suggest you aim your misdirection elsewhere.

        • You are displaying ignorance. Misfeasance is the common law offence that a councillor (or any other public official) may be charged with if they act illegally or irresponsibly. Malfeasance is the common term for the tort which would result in the councillors being sued in a civil case. The two are related but distinct. The planning process is clear and these actions are designed (over centuries) to ensure public officials do not exceed their remit. In this case the councillors clearly did so in rejecting an application on other than the facts and/or planning guidelines/policy.

          It is you who is showing contempt and ignorance of the planning process (and the democratic structures of the UK).

          • Can you prove that the EA has the (science/engineering) resources and the ‘teeth’ to regulate these practices effectively AB? Seems like a legitimate concern to me.

            • As the EA is a government body the courts would give great weight to the assumption that it is correctly applying government policy and standards. If the argument were that it is legitimate to decline permission due to failings of the EA (in it’s evaluation and recommendation) it would be for the councillors to prove this in practice given past court views of the actions of government bodies. So the answer to your question is that neither I, nor the companies would need to prove the competence of the EA. It would be for the councillors to prove otherwise.

            • The Environment Agency, like the HSE, Natural England and Highways, is a Statutory Consultee. Generally if they object, an application is refused, if they don’t it will be passed. Your question of regulatory competency is irrelevant in the Planning Process. By definition as a Statutory Consultee they are competent.

        • Phil C – I have no issues with the planning process. If Egdon lose the appeal, no problem. Lets discuss post appeal and see who is right – the Planning Officer & EA or the Councillors plus British Steel. No point in discussing this any further.

          What about your proposal to drop fossil fuels and switch to renewables? Please can you outline your plan & schedule, or the plan and schedule you support? How do we stop using gas for half of our electrcity and 80% of our heating? And how do we stop using hydrocarbons for transport (and if you propose electricity, how do we generate it?)?

          They have had to switch on the coal again – coal currently generating 18% of our electricity, wind 14% (and it is very windy today, all the wind turbines are whizzing round in this area)

  3. PhilC, I would politely suggest you think outside the box of this particular planning application. Think house building. If someone wants to build a house next to me it will be decided around a process that I may not like, but it will not be up to the group think of the local planning committee. A planning officer will be there to control the process. If that committee come to a different decision, I can easily appeal. I see that as our democratic process, and it is followed by thousands of people every year.

  4. Don’t see it as a “crash”, Refracktion. (Check Glencore.) Might be a similar opportunity being presented, might not. Could be the same situation with Egdon.

  5. Strange reply? This is typical avoidance of the issue, it wont wash, sorry about that, particularly not with acid. The point is Paul, the whole reason for the refusal of planning permission is the unknown effects of proppant squeeze and acidisation in an onshore environment, and rightly so. i am entirely on topic by suggesting that the entire process is pointless and refused on potential water pollution and one assumes water table depletion grounds.

    • There are two problems with your argument (if that is now your rationale for the rejection rather than your other views such as EA incompetence). The first (and most obvious) is that the techniques described have been widely used in onshore wells (including in the UK) according to my quick checking as a layman. The most obvious case is at Wytch Farm, the biggest onshore field in the UK and one I know well from living in Poole previously. It has safely operated for nearly 40 years in a highly protected site with no problems. So the effects have been monitored over many years (at Wytch and elsewhere) making the assertion of effects being unknown something of a joke. The second problem with your argument is as outlined in my previous answer above. Any appeal or court case is bound to give great weight to the views of the designated government agency (the EA) and assume they do understand the science unless the objectors can show otherwise.

    • Losing track of comments. But to summarise:

      The Councillors refused the application based on their knowledge of acidising oil wells? The Councillors refused it because they are worried about getting re elected. Their knowledge and experience of acid stimulation is probably less than most people on this BB. Perhaps FOE got to them? Or the wine lady? It would appear that several of the Councillors wanted to refuse it but struggled to provide an acceptable planning reason for doing so. We will see at the appeal if they got it right.

      Acidisation in an onshore environment has been going on for decades in the UK. Look up the Kimmeridge-1 well – acid treated twice, still producing. This process is not new and has been going on for a long time. I did it in Hampshire in the 1980’s on the Great Oolite. Are any of the associated shallow aquifers polluted? Not heard of any – have you?

  6. Interesting to see share purchases at Egdon were at pretty high levels today! Someone seems to think they will make money out of this situation. (I suspect if it continues any Appeal will need to check this out.) Shame that they might be right, which means the tax payer will be footing the bill.
    Or the £1.5 billion for the Swansea lagoon, that will supply electricity (if it works) even more expensively than Hinkley Point (and destroy the Lizard/St. Keverne), or the £1 billion called for carbon storage (still unproven), or the half £ billion wasted on alternative energy in N. Ireland.

    Seems it is more important to have the “warm glow of self righteousness” and sacrifice social care and mental health. £3 billion is not down the sofa, it means other expenditure is restricted.

    Snow starting outside, must adjust my thermostat to my GAS boiler now, otherwise I could have a plumbers bill, have a good weekend.

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