INEOS shale gas plans at Harthill open for comment – key details on the application

Harthill Kerry Eades 170410

Common Road, Harthill. Photo: Kerry Eades

Plans by INEOS to explore for shale gas in the greenbelt between Sheffield and Worksop are now open for comment.

The site, at Common Road, Harthill, is in an area of high landscape value and within a local wildlife site.

A public consultation by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council runs until 21 July. Link to planning application

This is the INEOS’s second application for a vertical exploration well. The first, at Bramleymoor Lane, in the village of Marsh Lane, is being considered by Derbyshire County Council.

At Common Road, INEOS is seeking permission for five years to drill a 2,800m (9,200ft) vertical gas well, take core samples and carry out a pressure test. The application does not include fracking but the company has not ruled out submitting another proposal to frack the well in future..

The company said it chose the site because it was:

  • Suitable for further detailed analysis
  • Met operational requirements to drill a vertical well
  • Avoided environmental constraints
  • Could reduce adverse impacts on the environment, including local roads, landscape, flood risk and homes

The company said the proposal did not conflict with local or national policy. Noise levels would be low and there would be no unacceptable impacts on human health and safety. The effect on the community, recreation and amenity value of the area would be limited to an acceptable level, INEOS said. And it said highway safety requirements would be satisfied for all road users.

Growing opposition

But there is a growing campaign against the application in the nearby village of Harthill and Thorpe Salvin.

Opponents are distributing letters of objection, arguing that the scheme would threaten local wildlife, disrupt the tranquillity of the area and open the door to further industrialisation.

10 tonne lorry on Common Road Harthill Paul Rowland

Common Road, Harthill with 9ft measure. Photo: Harthill Against Fracking

There are also concerns that the proposed route to the site along Packman Lane, in places only 9ft wide, could not cope with convoys of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).

Packman Lane Harthill Paul Rowland

Packman Lane, Harthill. Photo: Harthill Against Fracking

Objectors fear the only way to accommodate 32-tonne HGV deliveries, which at times will number 70 a day, would be to remove 700-year hedgerows. Local people would be prevented from using the lane for walking, cycling, running or riding horses, they argue.

Common Road Harthill Paul Rowland2

Common Road, Harthill. Photo: Harthill Against Fracking

Some houses in Harthill are just one field away from the proposed site, raising concerns about light, noise and air pollution. There have also been questions about the risk to old mine workings and complaints that findings from some ecological surveys accompanying the application are either incorrect or incomplete.

Common Road Harthill Paul Rowland

Common Road, Harthill. Houses overlook the proposed site. Photo: Harthill Against Fracking

Key facts in the application

Application number RB2017/0805

Applicant INEOS Upstream Ltd

Submitted 30 May 2017

Public consultation 13 June-21 July 2017

Description of development Construction of well site, including access track, mobilisation of equipment and facilities to drill a 2,800m (9,200ft) vertical hydrocarbon exploratory core well and carry out a pressure transient test. The application is for five years.

Purpose To take a core sample of target rock strata and conduct tests, logs and measurements of the shale layer

Address Common Road, Harthill, Rotherham

Exploration licence area PEDL304 where INEOS is required to drill one vertical exploration well, one horizontal well and conduct hydraulic fracturing, as well as carry out 2D and 3D seismic surveying

Distance from nearest homes About 700m

Site size 1.40ha

Access 30m from Common Road

Landscape Open farmland bounded by woodland

Landscape designations Green Belt land and Area of High Landscape Value

Wildlife Site is within Loscar Common Local Wildlife Site and 1.8km south of Chesterfield Canal Local Wildlife Site. Ancient semi-natural woodland 330m to north and connected to it by hedgerows

Nearest water Bondhay Dyke (530m to south).

Source Protection Zone (SPZ) The Cadeby Formation principle aquifer SPZ is 500m to south

Environmental Impact Assessment Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council ruled on 18 May that an EIA was not needed

Land at Common Road Harthill Against Fracking

The site off Common Road, Harthill. Photo: Harthill Against Fracking

Proposed operation

Stage 1: Site Development and Establishment – approximately three months

  • Surveys and fencing – 2 weeks
  • Development of road access, track and parking – 2-3 weeks
  • Site clearance, levelling, addition of hardstanding, well cellar, impermeable membrane and creation of drainage ditches, addition of surface aggregate, and installation of ground water monitoring boreholes – 4-5 weeks
  • Installation of conductor/surface casing – 3 weeks
  • Completion of site works, including security measures and lighting – 1-2 weeks

Hours Monday-Friday 7am-7pm, Saturday 7am-1pm, No Sunday or bankholiday working except for installation of conductor and surface casing.

Staff 10 plus 2 security

Stage 2: Mobilisation, drilling, coring, testing, suspension and demobilisation – 5 months

  • Mobilisation and assembly of rigs – 2 weeks
  • Drilling and coring – up to 12 weeks
  • Pressure Transient Testing using workover rig – up to 7 weeks
  • Suspension and demobilisation – 2 weeks

Hours Assembly, drilling, coring, testing and suspension 24 hours a day; deliveries: Monday-Friday 7am-7pm, Saturday 7am-1pm

Staff 45

Rig details

  • Maximum dimensions: height – 60m, length 32m, width 12m
  • Weight 350 tones
  • Vehicle movements: 152, including 12 abnormal loads
  • Overall sound power level – 113dB

Pressure transient test

The cased well would be perforated at the target depth and a packer lowered into the well from a workover rig. A solution of potassium chloride would be squeezed into the formation at the target zone. The test zone would be closed off and pressure monitored for up to two weeks. The process would be repeated in up to two more target zones.


Stage 3: Maintenance of the Suspended Well Site – up to five years

Following completion of the PTT, the well would be suspended. A workover rig or wireline truck and other equipment, along with waste, would be removed from site.

Stage 3a: Possible workover of the suspended well – up to one month

This stage is included as a contingency and would be required only if the well required to be re-entered for maintenance.

Stage 4: Use of the Well as a Listening Well – up to five weeks

Listening devices would be inserted into the well to record seismic activity if nearby wells were fracked.

Stage 5 Abandonment (Decommissioning) and Restoration – approximately two months

Key issues


INEOS said construction noise may be audible but impacts were expected to be negligible. Traffic noise would be very low and likely to be imperceptible, the company said.

Drilling and coring activities were expected to be below 42 dB LAeq (free field) noise limit for night at the nearest home. Daytime drilling and coring noise would be “well below” the planning guidance limit of 55 dB for day time and evening at the nearest home, INEOS said.


The application estimated 60 daily HGV movements during site development and drilling, coring and pressure testing.

The company proposes to route traffic off the M1 at junction 30, follow the A619 Worksop Road to Norton. The remaining 4.5km is on Bondhay Lane, Packman Lane and Common Road. It said there were fewer than five homes on this part of the route.

Traffic management measures would be needed on the route, INEOS said, but the development would not have a material impact on the highway network.

On the A619, the increase in traffic would be less than 1% above the current baseline, the company. On Bondhay Lane and Common Road, the traffic increase would be more than 10% above the baseline. But INEOS said: “a route management plan providing formal passing places and other traffic management measures would be sufficient to mitigate any impact of the development.”


INEOS said the site accounted for 0.5% of the total area of the local wildlife site. The company said this level of loss for a five-year period was not considered to be significant. It proposed to plant native hedgerows to fill gaps on the southern site boundary and leave a 30m buffer zone between the drill pad and woodlands or hedgerows. Field boundaries could be planted with species-rich tussocky grassland to provide habitat for birds such as corn bunting. The application said:

“The habitats that will be temporarily impacted are of low ecological value and taking account of standard mitigation and pre-construction surveys no further detailed surveys are required.”


The application accepted that there would be substantial effects on landscape up to 1km away during site development, when a 32m conductor rig and 60m drilling rig were on site, and during decommissioning and restoration. The effect of the drilling rig would be minor at distances of 2km and negligible beyond 3km, the company said.

People living on the south east edge of Harthill would be most affected, INEOS said. Carr Farm, Grange Farm and Loscar Farm and the village of Thorpe Salvin would experience moderate effects during drilling, coring and pressure testing. There would be substantial effects for users of Common Road and Harthill Field Road.


The application said there would be neutral effects on the shallow groundwater quality of surrounding area, biodiversity and water resources. This was because of the design of the well and the use of well casings, geomembranes, checks, water-based drilling muds and storage methods.

Archaeology and cultural heritage

INEOS said the site was not likely to be visible from historic centres of Harthill and Thorpe Salvin, except for when 60m drilling rig is on site. The impact on cultural heritage was not considered to be long-term.

Air quality

During drilling, there would be emissions to air from vehicle and equipment exhaust fumes, as well as dust and potentially methane, the application said. Road traffic would also generate emissions but not enough to trigger air quality assessment thresholds. On-site generators and the drilling rig would produce NOx, SOx, PM10 and PM2.5, CO and VOCs. There would also be dust from site preparation, construction and vehicle passage on access road.

Climate change

INEOS said the potential contribution to national greenhouse gas emissions would be negligible.


Previous workings have already collapsed, the application said, and development was unlikely to have an impact on wider ground stability issues.

14 replies »

  1. Here we go again, A 9 feet wide (three metres) road 700 year old hedgerows, no doubt an ancient right of way with unsuitable prohibitive structural capability. 150 vehicular movements 12 HGV? Really? Movements, its all another Coldharbour Lane debacle isn’t it?
    There must be millions of brown belt sites available, and yet is again the country’s beauty spots that is targeted?

    • Why dont you leave these specialist issues to traffic experts Phil C? This is a temporary structure that could lead to very positive developments for UK energy security (Important as a lot of our gas comes from terrorist supporting Qatar), to tax revenues, jobs etc etc. Ineos have promised 6% of income to local people.

      If you are worried about creeping ‘industrialisation’, why dont you protest about supermarkets, roads, houses, etc. These after all are permanent.
      Or do you want to have the benefit of these things with zero impact at all on you? I believe the phrase is ‘having your cake and eating it’. Perhaps you would prefer we live in the stone age with no development at all?

      • I beg to differ Ken, i will most certainly comment about the abject failures of the authorities to protect our treasured beauty spots. the industry is yet again trafficking totally unsuitable rural roads and leaving it all up to badly funded inadequate council specialists that clearly dont have the impetus to prevent such sites to be industrialised.

        I don’t care how “temporary” the initial exploration is, we all know that the site will never be given up and the the industry just up sticks and reinstate? That will be too valuable a site to be just thrown away, once the area is industrialised then more industry will move in and there will be be no stopping it just from this precedent.

        The arguments you put forward are simply laughable, you know very well that a supermarket will never get planning permission to build in this beauty spot, that is pure diversion from the subject.

        The only reason these o&g sites get permission at all is government pressure, the special favouritism that the o&g industry get because of so called “national interest” that they can carry out their industry wherever they damn well please, and the curious “roll over and play dead” attitude of the councillors when confronted with the prospect of this industrialisation.

        Local people are ignored.

        To paraphrase your words, the o&g industry like to “have their frack and keep it”

  2. Having lived in such areas of rural beauty, try these arguments about the huge combines and other farm implements that use these “totally unsuitable rural roads.” And, in East Anglia you have the continuous sugar beet lorries and tractor loads travelling such “totally unsuitable rural roads” for months on end, every year, without any wheel washing and causing multiple accidents from slippery road services. Then you have that lovely sweet smell for months on end if you are anywhere within a twenty mile radius of a processing factory. No emissions??

    Trying to categorise temporary oil and gas exploration as something totally unknown in rural areas and any different to other activities that have been conducted for decades is understandable but thank goodness for “inadequate council specialists” who should be able to see through such rhetoric and , hopefully, avoid huge costs to the taxpayer through appeals that will over-rule emotion where clear and long term precedents can easily be shown.

    So, how do the antis deal with the issues of traffic? Slow walking! No wonder they are so against PR agencies-anti-social activity gets more publicity, doesn’t seem to matter that it is not a good recruiting tool.

    • I appreciate what you say, however I would point out that two wrongs dont make a right, or indeed a left.
      I have said many times why o&g proliferation onshore is a unique case that negates most other considerations.
      We could start with the desperate need we must invest in renewables, give tax breaks for and employ new technology and innovations in the incredible developments in renewables and make those local to need, not centralised and wasteful.
      I have posted numerous links to those remarkable innovations, I am sure you cannot have missed that. The development of the amazing leaps in energy provided by alternative power generators is always carefully avoided by the anti anti’s and is received with silence, ask yourself why that is?
      Solar power is now incredibly efficient and yet this government slapped an 800% increase in tax and gave reduced payments for contributing back to the grid. Ask yourself why that is?
      Climate change, “oblate spheroid warming” is a fact of life and we must invest now as a matter of urgency Into carbon neutral alternatives. That is the future of energy, o&g is a noose trapping us into outdated inefficient energy production and use and that monopoly must be broken in order for us to move into the next age of responsible coexistence with the planet and its resources, not the ” rip the planets heart out” policy we still maintain today.
      My main gripe with o&g is that it is not welcome, it is being imposed, seemingly in our most treasured beauty spots which should be sacrosanct from ANY industrial activity, you know my opinion on access. The government have squashed debate, attempted to overrule public protest and the government and industry still refuses to have a free and open debate on all its operational activities regarding o&g exploitation onshore.
      That is simply unacceptable in every possible way. For that single reason alone, ignoring all the other concerns, I object and will keep objecting until something is done about it, and at the very least discussed in detail, not imposed.

      We have seen what government and council stonewalling of protest over fire regulations and enforcement. Well we address how o&g/ government exploitation has been similarly treated and the public calls for attention ignored and marginalised in the same criminal way.
      We have seen no evidence whatsoever of the promised gold standard regulations even existing let alone being operated or enforced. That aspect must be addressed immediately and if that means calling a halt to o&g proliferation, then so be it.
      The whole political private club attitude situation is now in disarray, now people are waking up and demanding to be heard and acted upon. Fire regulations are only the beginning.
      O&g is only one aspect, but to me for all the reasons I have said above and many more, I think it is the most urgent to be addressed after fire regulations of course.
      Yes there are similar aspects of our society that need addressing, and we will do so in time, but let us get a strong hold on the clear and present danger that o&g exploitation represents not just to our physical health and safety, but to our democracy as well.

  3. PhilC-you oppose EVERY site for oil and gas exploration, whether it is greenfield, brownfield, or even existing site. So, please excuse me for being cynical about a reason being selected against each site. You have been honest about your agenda but by so doing you establish a platform where it is obvious you will produce an argument against any development. Your free and open debate is not what the antis want. Indeed, there have been numerous occasions where some have bragged on this site as to how that has been prevented, so the authorities are left to take over. If you or your groups create this environment then it will mean others will have to deal with it. Actions have consequences.

    • Really? Provide evidence please? Dear dear, you do make lots of speculations about something you know nothing about don’t you?
      Excuse you for being cynical? No, thank you, i prefer to make up my own mind. I say what i mean, thats it, no pretence, no edifice, nothing but honesty and occasionally enjoying a little foray into the bizarre world of frack logic just for fun.

      Free and open debate is exactly what protectors want, and even in these pages, which should be free and open debate, the least little opinion that doesnt fit the frack logic imperative is instantly leapt upon and ridiculed, is that the sort of free and open debate you say the protesters dont want? Or is that just the frack farm agent agenda to prevent any useful discussion that might just go down a path you dont want explored?

      Actions do indeed have consequences, odd that you should mention that, we have all seen what happens when pleas for regulations to be enforced and applied are ignored, we are seeing that now.

      • You may be interested to know that the bailiffs have no right to preventing the right to roam and to evict without changing common law, which is forbidden, and stopping the public from entering or approaching the site, Common Law prevents restrictions on access, harm has to be proved, occupation by bailiffs is just as culpable as occupation by protesters. Bailiffs have no jurisdiction and cannot take the law into their own hands, that is a police and court matter.

        I have a question for those who have an original of the eviction order, is it signed freshly in pen, not photocopied, and has the complete fee been paid by a solicitor or barrister in court? If not the eviction order is an illegal falsification and to issue one and act upon it is a criminal offence.

        i would be grateful if that is established? Ruth/Paul, do you have an original/photograph of the whole document? Can the verification details be checked?

  4. “No pretence, no edifice” really PhilC?? If I so wished, I could post a whole selection, but I have no wish to do so as others will already be aware of that, and I am sure they would be edited.

    “Free and open debate” -how does that fit with trying to prevent businesses going about their lawful business? You have to prevent traffic from using a highway, entering a site, police attending a call out, on-line abuse of supporters of fracking and commit trespass to facilitate free and open debate? Not quite the free and open I recognise, more like some of us don’t like it so we will impose our views by any means. I even recall your concern about some of these issues before time passed and the more extreme became the more normal.

    Your free and open debate about the Europa site has repeated how this is a special site. Funny how there was no mention in your free and open debate about the raping of this site by protestors, who will not have any responsibility for the costs of repair and restoration, which will fall upon the tax payer. You expect the exploration companies to be held fully responsible for repair and restoration of their sites. How about protestors having to supply a fund to do so before they are allowed to act in this way? No, that would be Gold Standard regulation, and that should only work one way in your free and open society.

  5. What are paras two and three?? They are totally factual and lucid, and you know it so you try a smoke screen. Others know para 1 is also the same, I see no need to elucidate further, so further smoke can be produced. I will leave smoke production to those camped out in Sussex and Surrey bemoaning and speculating about pollution.

  6. If you want to explore the “honesty” phrase further just look at the comments from Ruth regarding the Third Energy “concern” on the previous section ,the comments by the EA and then your comments. We are supposed to believe you have knowledge those two parties do not have, or do we believe you felt their comments would not excite some sufficiently so you decided to not only change the wording, but the whole meaning of the wording? Certainly free and open, but not honest.

    • Meaning? Wording? Try this for size: “PhilC-you oppose EVERY site for oil and gas exploration” Define “EVERY”? What? EVERY ONE!? from the American Civil War union ColonelS use of ex USA Navy torpedoes right up to the nuclear bomb tests, yes, that is right, they tried nuclear bombs exploding underground, look it up, right up to the ones in the present and into the future? That EVERY?? Somewhat of an inaccurate unfounded and completely WRONG statement isnt it? Would you care to provide evidence for that little gem?

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