Regulation

Notts shale update: legal agreements published + extra restrictions on seismic surveys

INEOS East mids seismic surveying

Nottinghamshire County Council announced today it had added restrictions on where and how INEOS can carry out 3D seismic surveys.

The council also published the legal agreements signed with IGas for two shale gas exploration sites in Bassetlaw.

Seismic survey controls

INEOS is expected to being surveying this month across 250km2, covering parts of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough. It said the work would give a better understanding of rock formations which may contain shale gas. And this would help identify future sites for shale gas development.

In a letter to INEOS released today, the council said it required extra controls on the surveys. These include:

  • Stand-off distance set by Historic England for surveying near Cresswell Crags
  • Maximum vibration levels and monitoring for surveying near designated sites, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest
  • No shot holes drilled on land used, or previously used, for landfill or spoil disposal
  • Spare spoil from drilling shotholes removed from site or scattered thinly to prevent smothering plants

Seismic surveying works by creating soundwaves into the ground and recording how they return. The soundwaves are created at source or shot points by either detonating small underground explosive charges or by a vibroseis machine. The vibrations travel through rock layers and where the rock type changes they are reflected back to the surface. Microphones at the receiver points record how the soundwaves travel.

The council has already said no surveying would be carried out within 50m of any scheduled monuments in Nottinghamshire.

INEOS has also confirmed that no seismic surveying will take place in:

  • The Sherwood National Nature Reserve, including the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve
  • Special Areas of Conservation
  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest including Thoresby Lake, Welbeck Lake, Hills and Holes and Sookholme Brook, Warsop

INEOS’s surveys are expected to last up to six months. Companies that want to carry out longer-term seismic surveys must notify the mineral planning authority 28 days before the work starts. But formal planning permission is not usually needed because under planning rules seismic surveying counts as “permitted development”.

Jonathan Smith, Development Management Team Manager at Nottinghamshire County Council, said:

“We have worked with a number of partner organisations and in consultation with INEOS to identify sites and circumstances where restrictions should be applied.

“We are satisfied that these new restrictions, together with those initially proposed by INEOS, mean the survey can proceed as ‘permitted development’, within the classifications set by Government.”

Legal agreements

Misson equipment

The entrance to Springs Road, Misson

Nottinghamshire County Council today published the legal agreements for IGas shale exploration sites at Springs Road, Misson, and Tinker Lane, between Blythe and Barnby Moor.

The documents, known as Section 106 agreements, were a condition of planning permissions granted by the council and were finalised on 24 May.

The Misson agreement runs to 71 pages and took six months to finalise. It includes:

  • Designated route for all HGVs using the site
  • Driver code of conduct
  • Pre-condition survey of the route and responsibility for IGas to repair any damage
  • Financial restoration bond of £650,000
  • Establishment of a Community Liaison Group for the live of the development
  • Scheme for monitoring water levels in Gresham Drain

On the restoration bond, work cannot start until the first deposit of £120,000 has been made. A second payment of £290,000 must be made before vertical drilling can start and horizontal drilling cannot begin until after the final payment of £240,000.

On the designated lorry route, companies face a suspension of their contract of not less than five working days after three breaches and termination of the contract after four breaches. However, the obligations do not apply in what are called “emergency circumstances” if the operator notifies the council.

IGas has agreed to pay council costs of drawing up the agreement up to £3,250.

The Tinker Lane agreement is 58 pages long and, like Misson, includes a designated lorry route, driver code of conduct, financial bond and establishment of a liaison group.

The restoration bond for Tinker Lane is £183,000 and payment is required before work can begin at the site. The agreement includes the same sanctions on hauliers who do not follow the designated lorry route. IGas agreed to pay legal costs of up to £1,500.

1 reply »

  1. Microphones do not record the returning waves. They are called geophones, and can be described as motion detectors.

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