Opposition mobilises as INEOS unveils plans for second shale gas site

INEOS Harthill location

Location of INEOS Harthill  site (in red). Source: INEOS screening report

INEOS has begun the planning process for a second site for shale gas exploration – this time in Rotherham borough.

The company wants to drill a 2,800m vertical well between the villages of Harthill and Thorpe Salvin to take samples and carry out tests.

Yesterday, the Harthill Against Fracking Facebook group said it had gained more than 250 members in one day. Opponents said they had notified both parish councils, the three Rotherham borough ward councillors and the MP. A public meeting is proposed soon.

INEOS has already announced it will submit a planning application to drill a similar well near the village of Marsh Lane, in north Derbyshire. Correspondence with the Forestry Commission also indicate the company is looking at sites at Thieves Wood and The Lings in the Sherwood Forest area of north Nottinghamshire.

Details of the Harthill site emerged in documents published online by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council on Friday (10 March 2017).

In the documents, INEOS asked the council for a formal opinion on whether an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) must be submitted as part of its planning application. There is no reference to fracking at the site.

INEOS said it believed an EIA was not needed because the site would be temporary, sized between 1-2ha and would be restored to agriculture. The company said it had identified no cumulative impacts for its proposals. It said:

“Significant effects on the environment are not considered likely”.

But opponents have said there could soon be four shale gas sites in the area. Nottinghamshire County Council approved IGas’s application for Mission Springs last year and it is meeting next week to decide on IGas plans for Tinker Lane.

four wells in notts derbys rotherham

Source: Frack Free South Yorkshire

Rotherham Council said on Friday the public could not comment specifically on INEOS’s request for an opinion on the EIA. The council said it would issue its decision on whether an EIA was needed and this would be available online.

Key facts on Harthill site

The following are based on information in the INEOS documents

Location: Land next to Common Road, near Harthill

Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence: (PEDL) 304

Size of proposed site: 1.2ha plus access track

Duration of application: 5 years


  • Construction (stage 1): 3 months
  • Drilling (stage 2): 5 months
  • Establishment as listening well and suspension (stage 3): 1 week
  • Listening well (stage 4): 3 weeks
  • Abandonment and restoration (stage 5): 6 weeks

Distance from nearest home: 690m

Footpaths: one path runs immediately east of the site and another is close to the north

Landscape: Agricultural land, next to an area of woodland in an area of High Landscape Value

Nearest wildlife sites: Loscar Common Plantation (next to the site), Loscar Wood (500m to east), Ginny Spring Whitwell Wood SSSI (1.8km to SE), Crabtree Wood SSSI (2.2km to SW)

Nearest historic features: Grade II listed buildings 1km+ to the west on Union Street, Harthill and Thorpe Salvin Hall scheduled monument 1.6km to NE. Hartfield Conservation Area is 1km to the west and Thorpe Salvin Conservation Area 1.5km to NE.

Heavy Goods Vehicle traffic

During construction (Stage 1): 3-week period 50-60 HGV movements/day (5 per hour over a 12- hour day) to bring in aggregate. Other periods 5-10 movements/day.

Drilling, coring and pressure testing (Stage 2): 6 movements/day of vehicles over 32 tonnes during mobilisation and demobilisation of rig; 10-42 HGV movements/day for equipment mobilisation; other periods: under 10 movements/day.

Harthill Phil Daly

Photo: Phil Daly

Environmental impacts

The INEOS screening request gave the following details:

Materials: Site surfacing would use 9,000 tonnes of aggregate brought by road and removed after the site is abandoned and restored.

Energy: This would be provided by mobile diesel generators, on site for 6 months at any one time

Emissions and waste: Road traffic to the site would produce emissions during construction and drilling phases. No operation flaring or venting is planned. Waste water and materials would be removed by road.

Noise and vibrations: INEOS said guidelines allow construction noise to reach up to 65dB. During other phases, night-time noise would not exceed 42dB and during the day 55dB, the company said.

“Based on industry precedent and current understanding of the site, INEOS is confident that the development will meet the regulatory thresholds and therefore have no significant noise impacts.”

Vibration “is expected to be imperceptible at distances of greater than 20m from the drill rig”, the company said. It said the nearest homes were 690m away

Lighting: On-site and on the rig. INEOS said “no significant effects are anticipated”.

Contamination: The company said “There ae no anticipated significant effects”. The wellsite and access track would be lined with a geomembrane, which would prevent potential groundwater pollution from spills. A bund around the site would prevent spills contaminating the surrounding land. Chemicals, fuels and waste products would be stored in appropriate containers.

Ecology: The company said the plans “do not present a risk of significant impacts”. There would be no need to fell trees but some hedgerows may need to be removed.

Landscape: The drilling rig would be up to 60m and the workover rig and crane 32m and 35m high. The company said they would be in place for a temporary period and screened by trees. INEOS says “no significant effect on views are anticipated”.

Groundwater protection: The site is not in a source protection zone, INEOS said. Two drainage ditches are 480m away and a groundwater well is 460m away.

Details of operations

Stage 1: Site development and establishment

Estimated duration: 3 months

Working hours: 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 7am-1pm Saturday


  • Surveys: Geotechnical, site investigation, road condition, environmental
  • Creation of access track
  • Site clearance , removal of top soil, soil bunds created around site perimeter
  • Installation of geotextile and polyethylene liners
  • Perimeter water storage pipe laid in ditch at foot of bunds
  • Cabins placed on perimeter, stacked two high
  • Well cellar excavated
  • Soil bunds seeded, lighting installed

Stage 2: Drilling, coring and testing

Estimated Duration: 5 months

Working hours: 24-hour for drilling; 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 7am-1pm Saturday for mobilisation, deliveries and Pressure Transient Test.


  • Drill rig, drill pipe and water and mud pumps brought onto site
  • Well drilled to 2,800m with 60m rig
  • Cores extracted from target formations
  • Pressure Transient Test to establish reservoir properties
    • Main rig replaced by 32m workover rig
    • Well perforated and packer (a device to seal the borehole) lowered into well
    • 10m3 (maximum) potassium chloride solution (2-4%) squeezed into formation at target zone at pressure
    • Pressure monitored for two weeks
    • Plug removed
    • Process repeated in up to two additional target zones
  • Workover rig and waste removed

INEOS says standard well safety equipment would be present on site during drilling, including a blow-out preventer, vent for emergency venting of gas, and methane monitoring.

An emergency plan and pollution prevention measures would be in place, the company said.

Stage 3: Establishment as listening well and suspension

Estimated duration: 1 week

Working hours: 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 7am-1pm Saturday


  • Flange and well monitoring pressure gauge fitted to well
  • Well sealed using wellhead Christmas tree or wireline blow out preventer
  • Steel protector cage fitted over wellhead
  • Remaining cabins removed
  • Routine visits would check the pipework, site surface, fencing and security, drainage, wellhead structure and pressure monitoring

32m workover rig may be brought back for maintenance.

Stage 4: Listening well operations

Estimated duration: 3 weeks

Working hours: 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 7am-1pm Saturday

This work would be carried out to undertake baseline monitoring or when another well is hydraulically fracked.


  • Mobilisation of wireline truck, 30 tonne mobile crane (35m maximum), mast, elevated work platform and temporary welfare facilities
  • Placement of geophones (small seismic receivers) on wireline inside reservoir casing
  • Demobilisation

Stage 5: Abandonment and restoration

Estimated duration: 6 weeks

Working hours: 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 7am-1pm Saturday


  • Plugging and abandoning the well
    • Wellhead removed and casing/cement cut to 3m below ground
    • 32m workover rig required
  • Removal of site equipment and surfacing
  • Restoration
    • Soil in bunds levelled across surface
    • Field drainage re-developed
    • Site reseeded for agriculture
  • Aftercare


INEOS screening report on Harthill, Rotherham

INEOS information sheet on Harthill proposal

Rotherham Council information on shale gas and fracking

20 replies »

  1. Good! A properly regulated and planned well to help the UK pay its way and reduce imports from Russia. Also lots of well paid jobs and economic activity, tax revenue, and good payments to local people. Whats not to like?

    Lets face it, its not going to pollute the water is it! No evidence anywhere on the planet on that one! Well if there is Friends of the earth couldnt find it!

        • Norway supplies us direct with most of our piped imports. Some pro frackers may think Norweigns are very scary. They never seem to mention them but are obsessed with Putin turning off a tap that would make virtually no difference to our imported gas supply. I am happy however to keep posting the correct statistics.

          The Vesterled pipeline link: This pipeline connects St Fergus in Scotland to a number of Norweigan gasfields. This pipeline has a capacity of 14.2bcm a year.

          The Langeled pipeline: At the time of its commissioning in 2006 this pipeline, which runs from Nyhamna in Norway to Easington in Yorkshire, became the longest underwater gas pipeline in the world at 1,200km. The pipeline has a capacity of 26.3 bcm

          We are also connected to Europe. Note that we export our North Sea gas as well.

          The UK – Netherlands pipeline (BBL): This runs from Balgzand to Bacton in Norfolk. This pipeline has an import capacity of 14.2 bcm a year.

          The UK-Belgium interconnector (IUK): This pipeline runs between Bacton in Norfolk and Zeebrugge in Belgium, and connects Britain to the mainland Europe gas network. This pipeline has an import capacity of 25.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) a year. It is the only pipeline that is bi-directional, meaning it can both import gas to Britain as well as export gas to mainland Europe. The direction of flow depends on supply and demand and relative prices.

    • Properly regulated and planned Fracking activities are an unproven fiction !
      It’s not just one well. It’s a whole matrix of spaced out fracking pads each having the potential to rupture, and leak fracking fluids into the aquifer, which has been clean and unadulterated for centuries if not millennia.
      Paid jobs and economic activity will come at the expense of environmental purity. The pro Frackers say 75,000 jobs nationwide from Fracking. Renewables would if implemented provide a Million or more Climate Jobs.
      Plenty of evidence from the USA about aquifer pollution from Fracking activities !

    • Sweeping statements such as all anti Frackers are Hypocrites does not help sensible debate ! What I don’t see from pro Frackers in general is anything other than insults about the anti Frackers motives ! I see in general from the Pro Fracking brigade a Frack at all costs Instrumental Attitude, which is mainly based on selfish motives and greed !!!

  2. WooHoo it’s ‘Frackmans’ showdown week! Let’s hope we don’t have an airy fairy judge at the helm.
    You’re going to see a lot more of these Ineos applications over next few months. The band of brothers will need to go on a recruitment drive to have representation at all the sites. The numbers are already incredibly sparse.

    • You sound very cheerful there GBK. How can you be certain that the HC judge wont over turn the minister decision? The case is very important because it will set a precedence for all industrial cases where climate change can be used as a ground to block its development.

      • Hi TW. Have you read fully the details of their case? What points do you feel would cause us any concern ? I’m genuinely asking so I can help answer them.
        However, although I feel we have a very strong case in court the judge is a mere mortal human and they have been known to make monumental errors in the past. It was slightly odd that Manchester HC was so adamant to hear the case rather than London. Entirely their right I agree but still odd.
        The way I see it is this is the band of brothers last stand. They cannot afford financially to pester us with court hearings after this one. The govt will also be stronger with courts backing.

  3. I just hope we are spared the hypocrisy of the “protection of local people by local democracy” fiction reference this particular application. My stomach is pretty strong but might not be able to take that from the good people of Rotherham, and I don’t think others would find it too compelling either. .

      • John – you are missing the Conservatives who have an outright majority in UK Parliament? And a lot of Labour MPs are pro shale gas.

      • Labour will do a reversal as soon as they get rid of Corbyn.
        It’s sad you guys can’t see he is a complete phoney. Yes he does the grandstanding talks to rally his comrades but when it comes to genuine action he crumbles. He is anti EU but realises his die hard supporters are pro and thus lives a daily lie.

  4. Paul-John is just bitter that Ineos do what is best commercially for their business, and don’t see the north sea as an economic or reliable source of gas, so he follows Nicola and tries to stop/denounce other sources. I suppose ship building has declined so much in Scotland, they forgot about those little beauties.

    GottaBKidding-maybe the judge will be a customer of SSE! If so, could be a quick event. (14.9% price increase on electricity announced today, blaming government policy requiring subsidies on renewable energy.) You sure about “the majority of the British Public”, John, I think you will find that is just in the same category as “everyone agrees.”

  5. GottaBKidding-we just have a strong sense of humour, as far as Corbyn is concerned. We all remember our university days with affection and recall the “mature student” (often bearded) who ranted on about the faults of the system in the student bar. By the end of the first term however, we became bored with it as we realised he was a mature student because he had failed to progress through any examinations due to his IQ (“gaining life experience” would have been his slant) and his rants against the system could not supply an alternative one that would work. It was the catalyst for most of the “freshers” to lose their natural left slant, and is now being played out on a larger scale.

  6. Good argument for fracked gas in UK. No subsidies. (Apart from policing and legal costs-that can easily be removed.)

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