Live updates here from the meeting deciding Egdon’s application for 15 years of oil production at Lodge Farm, Broughton and Appleby, near Scunthorpe
The meeting of North Lincolnshire Council’s planning committee (pictured below), is at the civic centre, starting at 2pm. It is expected to hear from the council’s planning officer, the company and opponents of the application.
Cllrs approved a second application for groundwater monitoring boreholes
Planning permission refused
Councillors vote by 6 to 3 against the application with one abstention
The officer asks members to confirm they were concerned insufficient information had been submitted to allay fears about the risks of contamination, damage to the environment and the local economy.
The legal officer says lack of confidence in the Environment Agency was not a material planning consideration.
Cllr Holly Mumby-Croft
Cllr Mumby-Croft says there are issues of concern that were not answered by the report and she cannot support the application.
The legal officer says the committee cannot include a condition requiring action by the Environment Agency.
Cllr Sandra Bainbridge
Cllr Bainbridge (Labour, Frodingham) proposes a deferral until the committee had more information on what monitoring the Environment Agency would do at the site.
Cllr John Collinson
Cllr Collinson (Labour, Ashby) says he is concerned about risks to British Steel and not comfortable with the processes being carried out.
Cllr Mick Grant
Cllr Grant repeats Cllr Fosters’s concerns. He says he has no confidence in the Environment Agency. He moves an amendment to refuse the application because of no confidence in the Environment Agency
Cllr Len Foster
Cllr Foster (Labour, Brumby), a substitute member of the committee congratulates the objectors for the quality of their presentations and the behaviour spectators.
Cllr Foster says he has no confidence in the Environment Agency. He said “I am fed up with them” Recently there had been problems with flooding, river water issues, it had never been their fault.
“They hedge their bets on every single occasions.”
He says the council had voted to support British Steel and the application might put the company at risk
“It is untested and invariable accidents will happen, issues will arise. I do not think it is a risk we can take for our major employer. I will be objecting to this application.”
Cllr Ivan Glover
Cllr Glover (Conservative, Broughton and Appleby) says the issues raised by Cllr Allock should be minuted.
Cllr Holly Mumby-Croft
Cllr Mumby-Croft (Conservative, Broughton and Appleby) asks how serious is the risk of breaching the membrane and polluting the Ella Beck.
The planning officer says there is no further information beyond what is in the planning report.
Cllr Mumby-Croft says there is not a consistent approach between the different reports on the issue of the membrane.
The planning officer says the membrane will be checked. If there are problems it will be repaired and then covered with stone.
Cllr Mumby-Croft refers to a borehole used by residents living near the site and says this must be protected.
Cllr Ron Allcock
Committee vice chair, Cllr Allcock (Conservative, Axholme South), says he is concerned about possible contamination of the aquifer and the British Steel water boreholes. He calls for regular monitoring of the quality of the membrane on the site.
He is also concerned about the risk to the Ella Beck from a tanker accident. He says there should be a bund on the river as a planning condition.
He says the small and dilute amounts of acid used are acceptable. He proposes accepting the application with these conditions.
The planning officer says these issues cannot be included as planning conditions because they are covered by the environmental permitting regime.
Cllr Allcock says the council should recommend this is included in the permit. But the officer says this is not possible.
Cllr Allcock says the council should recommend these conditions are applied – even if only verbally.
“I really feel we should emphasise those particular points. We must protected the aquifer. That is essential”
Additional presentation by Paul Foster, for Egdon
Paul Foster says Egdon had sent additional material to British Steel to, he says, allay concerns. There would no risk to contamination or water loss at the British Steel boreholes.
Mr Foster says Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust has objected to the application. But the Environment Agency would not issue a permit if there was a risk to ground and surface water or wildlife sites.
He says Egdon will monitor vibrations, though any vibration from the operations are unlikely.
He says the council received no noise complaints during the previous drilling phase. He adds that night lighting will not be needed after the initial phase.
Paul Foster says the Environment Agency visited the site 13 times during the previous operations at the site.
The proposals relate to a conventional oil and gas site, he says. The proppant squeeze will be small, of short duration and undertaken once. It will be under the scrutiny of the Environment Agency, HSE and the Oil and Gas Authority.
He says the company will continue to have an “open dialogue” with the local community throughout the project. He urges the committee to approve the application.
Presentation by Jonathan Foster, consultant for Egdon
Mr Foster says the site construction phase will see the largest number of vehicle movements. Lorries will use the same route as during the well drill, which did not generate any complaints, he says.
Mr Foster says a new impermeable membrane will be added in ditches to handle surface waters. The company will repeat monitoring of nearby streams before, during and after operations. The process will be agreed and overseen by the Environment
Three sets of steel casing and cemented were installed in the aquifer zone of the well, he says. The perforations were a mile below the ground.
A separate application was being considered today for ground water monitoring boreholes, a condition of the environmental permit, Jonathan Foster says.
The Environment Agency will apply a rigorous assessment process and will not grant a permit if it is not satisfied that chemicals will pose no risk, he says
Presentation by Mark Abbott, Egdon managing director
Mark Abbot repeats there will be no high volume hydraulic fracturing for shale gas because there is no suitable rocks.
He says the proppant squeeze and acidisation will be used to allow oil to flow better. Each will be applied once alone. If they do not work they will not be repeated. If they did not work a side-track well will be drilled.
Acidisation is an established technique, he says. The dilute acid mix contains chemicals that are widely used in the UK. They will create the hydrofluoric acid a mile below the ground. There will be no transport of hydrofluoric acid. The spent liquid will be neutralised and taken to a treatment site.
The proppant squeeze will improve near wellbore permeability. There are similarities to hydraulic fracturing, he says, but the Wressle plans are on a smaller scale. It has been used at many oil production sites in the UK. The proppant squeeze will reach 40m horizontally and 20m vertically. It will take place across two days. It will not be allowed unless the Environment Agency is satisfied.
Presentation by supporter, Paul Foster, for Egdon Resources
Mr Foster thanks the planning officer for his report. He says the application has given details of all the operations that might be carried out, whether or not they are used. They are all well-established and needed to maximise production.
He says the well was drilled in 2014 and tested in 2015. This confirmed the presence of oil and gas.
He describes the discovery of oil at Wressle as a “material find”. The demand for energy cannot be polarised between low carbon and oil or gas. All energy sources had to be maximised, he says.
Mr Foster says it is a conventional operation. There is no intention to carry out high volume hydraulic fracturing. Proppant squeeze is not fracking by the back door. It is a standard industry operation. It has been carried at Crosby Warren nearby. The operation is much smaller than high volume hydraulic fracturing. Any gas will be used to generate electricity, he says.
Egdon is committed to briefing the local community. The original application attracted no objections or complaints, he says.
More than 2.100 people were invited to an exhibition about the application and under 200 people attended. The company was aware of objections to the proposals.
Presentation by opponent Alfred James Mallan
Mr Mallon says he is concerned about vehicle access to the site. He says a play park is on the proposed lorry route to Wressle and increased traffic will expose children to risk. There will be a danger to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders and increases in air pollution.
Mr Mallon said he worked in the petrochemical industry but said the proposals were untried and untested. He said flaring of gas would cause air pollution and he was concerned about the use of hydrofluroic acid. Small quantities would cause a hazard to the environment. He said he could see no documents about the approval of this chemical by the Environment Agency.
Presentation by the Unite union, read by John Redford
The Unite statement says the union wants to be sure that the council is aware of the objection by British Steel to the application. British Steel is concerned about the risk of contamination of water at its groundwater boreholes. The cost of this to the business could be millions of pounds for repairs and cost of production, the statement says.
Ground disturbances could fracture the pipework, leading to disturbance of the water supply to British Steel, the statement adds.
This could put a doubt over the future of the plant, a major employer in Scunthorpe, the statement says. The risk to the plant, jobs and the knock-on effect for the town is too great.
Presentation by opponent, Geraldine Clayton
Ms Clayton says the onshore oil and gas industry would not be viable without generous tax breaks. She says North Sea oil and gas is still plentiful.
She says the onshore industry has seen a catalogue of planning and permit breaches. She says the industry is untried and untested. The application should not be approved until there is an energy policy that operates on a a level playing field.
She says there is little documentation on repeat acid fracturing and there is no regulation for it.
The Markwells Wood application in the South Downs, using hydrochloric acid, has led to objections from Portsmouth Water and the Environment Agency, Ms Clayton says.
The people of North Lincolnshire might not be as well protected as the people of Sussex, she adds.
The original drilling application was approved by delegated powers and was not subjected to democratic scrutiny.
Presentation by opponent, Elizabeth Williams
Mrs Williams tells the committee the application is highly hazardous and experimental. It will inevitably cause harm to local communities, wildlife habitats, wild spaces and work places.
She says the application is for well stimulation at a spent sandstone well where the oil and gas can no longer be easily produced.
It is using an unusual form of low-volume, high pressure hydraulic fracturing, she says. This will alternate with acidisation, as many time as is necessary, according to the application.
Mrs William says acidisation is a huge risk, particularly when using hydrofluoiric acid. Professor Laurence Dunne says reprecipitation products could cause formation damage.
A blow out from a well involving hydrofluoric acid would be “terrible”.The Environment Agency has told residents “we have to trust the site operators”, she says.
Mrs Williams says the applicant has identified hazards and risks and yet harmful eventualities will be “unlikely on balance”. She urges the committee to take the precautionary principle and not allow the application.
Presentation by opponent, Andrew McCleod
Mr McCleod says he is speaking on behalf of his grandchildren. He says untapped global reserves of coal, oil and gas contain five times more carbon than we can burn if we want to avoid dangerous climate change.
If we are serious about about preventing a climate catastrophe, we can’t dig any new coal mines or drill any new oil or gas wells, he says. Not a singe one. Instead we need a swift, managed decline in the extraction of fossil fuels from the fields already in production, he says.
Mr McCleod says this is a matter for the planning committee to decide – quoting Mrs Justice Lang, the judge at the judicial review on Third Energy’s planning application at Kirby Misperton.
Mr McCleod adds: It is very easy to assess the overall impact of the development in the wider context of climate change. Wressle-1 will result in a net increase in global production of fossil fuels, therefore it will increase global greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate climate change.
“You have ample reasons to reject this application on climate change grounds and I urge you to do so”.
The planning officer says a further 35 letters of objections have been received since publication of his report and 107-signature petition. One of the letters refers to an application in Sussex which also proposes to use acid and has been opposed by the Environment Agency.
Criticism of video link
Cllr Mick Grant criticises the video streaming of the meeting to a neighbouring room and the prevention of opponents of the application to sit in the council chamber. He says:
“I object strongly that people cannot sit in this council chamber.”
The chair of the committee, Cllr Nigel Sherwood, says the decision was taken on the advice of the police.
Committee chair, Cllr Nigel Sherwood, opens the meeting.
Egdon Resources team takes its seats
Opponents pose for local newspapers and television
Small gathering outside the council building
All very quiet at North Linconshire Council
Two opponents of the planning application, two policemen and a satellite truck outside the council offices in Scunthorpe. Three security guards in the foyer and a warning notice to visitors in the entrance window.