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

46 replies »

  1. A case of misfeasance in public office. As well as the inevitable (and inevitably successful) appeal, Egdon should due the councillors. Public pressure is no defence to ignoring planning policy.

    • Seems like every attempt at UK onshore oil and gas exploration is being tarred with the word “fracking”. So what will happen, more crude oil imports from the Middle East and Russia and a lost opportunity to generate local jobs. Crazy.

  2. Oh dear oh dear this council has just cost the local residents a fortune in legal costs. Their own legal advisor almost pleaded for them to not refuse on the basis they don’t trust the EA. Then they quickly came up with the excuse of it potentially damaging the local community!
    Probably the most lame excuse I have seen thus far.
    The sad fact is you can see it coming. Councils have forgotten what planning permission actually means.

    • They cited the local economy and environment and were not satisfied the officers had taken sufficient account of the potential risks. I am not familiar with their local plan nor their mineral plan – but assume as planning committee members they will be.

    • Yet another Council making informed decisions

      Costs are not a material planning consideration.

      Cuadrilla were not awarded costs for their Singleton site appeal. A single well with no fracking.

      Click to access Appendix%20C.pdf

      If they appeal Egdon could face substantial legal costs.

      With new onshore drilling declining rapidly Egdon may well call it a day.

      • A planning appeal is cheap. If it goes to court costs will be awarded (as was the case with the Holmwood well case where the objectors were ordered to pay Europa’s costs in a case where the objections were on much stronger grounds. If the judge thought the objectors acted unreasonably in allowing it to come to court he could award much higher indemnity costs (as in the MOG/Lenigas oiler case).

  3. Agree AB, this looks like an argument to get local planning out of the loop on approval on technical grounds. You cannot refuse based on ‘lack of confidence’ in the official regulator. The Sec of State should overturn it tomorrow. The recent ASA decision shows that the Friends of the Earth campaign of disinformation has no basis in evidence. It doesnt even look there is much opposition.

    • The ASA ruling was only relating to one leaflet produced by one NGO – it does not mean all the damning peer reviewed studies that point to harm and risks from this industry have suddenly disappeared.

    • Was it a ruling Ken? You know like the Cuadrilla one? No. It wasn’t was it? If you are relying on the ASA as your arbiter of what is and isn’t scientifically valid I think you may just be demonstrating that you are not exactly following what our anonymous chum Peeny would call “the scientific method”

      Do YOU have confidence in the EA based on their recent performance and what we know about the decimation of their staffing levels Ken? I certainly don’t.

      I would have thought as long as they can sustain a reason, ‘lack of confidence’ in the official regulator was a pretty good reason to refuse, given the fundamental importance of regulation to this issue. Of course the government guidance’s insistence on presumptions of competence may come into play here. It will be interesting to see it tested if there is an appeal.

    • Ken… ‘We are not a dictatorship. Local planners will decide’ was a government (front bench) statement in relation to fracking developments – on record BTW.

      There’s still some disagreement over whether or not this is a ‘back door’ approach to fracking it seems.

  4. Interesting reading isnt it?

    “North Lincolnshire Council’s planning committee voted by 6 to 4 against the application, 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.”

    It will be even more interesting to see how this plays out, i can see that the pro fracking fraternity isnt happy, and is all ready pre judging the result, but maybe this wont be such a walkover for the government to over rule and perhaps for Sajid Javid now The ASC’s new independent report to Government, ‘UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Evidence Report’ sets out the most urgent risks and opportunities arising for the UK from climate change. Has been released to the public.

    • You’ve got to be kidding! This is the easiest one yet to overturn.
      I just had to look at the photos of the councillors and instantly knew “Mick” would be a temporary thorn in my side.
      They took over 15 minutes to try and word it as best they could to avoid legal costs in the future but as it was so last minute they’ve not done a very good job.

      • I’m not kidding at all, I recall saying the pro fracking fraternity isnt happy, and is all ready pre judging the result. I dont think you need to be insulting towards the Councillors, simply not done you know, I am sure the people of Lancashire will not appreciate it.

  5. You cannot sue councillors for carrying out their democratic role, they will have stated their reasons for objecting to the application – insufficient information to allay concerns. Councillors have to take account of but do not have to accept an officer recommendation, it is called democracy.
    I for one am delighted for the people of Lincolnshire.

    • Yes you can if they act illegally or unreasonably. Egdon could sue for malfeasance in public office and would only need to show the act was illegal or unreasonable. Unfortunately any shareholder of Egdon (or another company with a share in Wressle) would have to show malice if proceeding as an individual as their loss would be reflective. Egdon would not need to show malice. If you are interested the case against Stephen Byers from the early 2000s is instructive (and if he was vulnerable as a cabinet minister imagine how much exposed is a local councillor).

  6. Good for them. Opposition mounting all the time. One only needs to read reports from across the country as more and more parish, district and borough councils state their opposition. I hope it sticks. Whatever happens it is giving out a very clear message to the pro frackers. It is not going to be an easy ride. Perhaps the planning laws need to be looked at again to better protect the environment.

  7. Fair enough, the Planning Committee have the power to refuse the application which they have done. Egdon have the option to Appeal which no doubt they will do as this must be one of the easiest appeals so far to win. But perhaps they won’t appeal and will give up their oil field, potential cash flow, pack their bags and leave?

    Planning Officer recommends approval, Councillors vote against his / her recommendation. What do you think will happen? Perhaps British Steel will stop the Appeal? If they fight an appeal it may be possible. Anti Industry FOE and British Steel on the same side? No confidence in the Environment Agency – The legal officer said lack of confidence in the Environment Agency was not a material planning consideration.

    Cuadrilla won their appeal, Third Energy won their appeal, this one looks even stronger so I will be amazed if Egdon doesn’t appeal. But we will have to wait a few weeks to see.

  8. What a stupid game!

    An appeal will happen, and the decision will be overturned, costing the council ie. the taxpayer, a fortune.

    Meanwhile, almost a no brainer for speculators. Share price lowered, they pile in and will be quids in shortly, yet the antis will think they have struck a blow against capitalism. Perhaps the council should hedge their bets and invest some reserves to mitigate against the coming costs!

    Off to look down the back of the couch!

    • Like they have at iGAs and AJ Lucas Martin? There’s plenty of opportunity to buy at bargain basement prices there still! Take out a loan! Go for broke!

  9. Happy New Year to ALL,

    ALTHOUGH NOT ALL will be pleased to hear that I’m back and yes I will be once again hammering home the long list of medical professionals and scientific institutions that all say Fracking is highly dangerous.

    As a simple man, I will once again be looking for answers from some of the profit hungry pro frackers that may be operating on here.

    Referring to comments about the EA,
    For many in Trafford, Manchester, the EA are laughable. …. Would I trust them ???? NEVER.

    They thought that allowing an incinerator to be built in a densly populated area of Davyhulme, Trafford, which has been shown to regularly breach legal levels of air pollution was OK.
    To add to that and to pamper to the few elite who are rich enough to own private aircraft, they decided to allow the chimney stack height to be reduced by 50% below what was advised.

    Please don’t ask me about the EAs idea of monitoring, you’ll be laughing for months

    For more information regarding the incinerator, please refer to … Trafford Breath Clean Air Group website

  10. If the Lincolnshire councilors don’t want onshore E&P then their constituents will have to pay not have it .

    Rather than try to develop the site , Egdon , Europa and UKOG should just sue for liquidated damages .

    It would recover the £40m discounted cash flows that the field would be expected to be developed over it’s lifetime .

    That wouldn’t compensate the families who would miss out on the employment opportunities full field development would create but it would be fairer .

    • Interesting case – if you are going to bring anticipated losses into it. You could offset those against anticipated environmental mitigation costs… You could have a field day for speculation, for claim and counter claim based on an imagined future.

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