The Environment Agency announced today it had granted a permit to INEOS for proposed shale gas exploration at the village of Marsh Lane in north east Derbyshire.
It also emerged today that the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, had ruled that the company’s planning application for drilling, coring and testing at the site, off Bramleymoor Lane, did not need an environmental impact assessment. A public consultation on the planning application is expected to begin soon.
Known as a “standard rules” permit, the approval would allow INEOS to carry out drilling, waste management and testing at Bramleymoor Lane. It does not allow fracking.
INEOS still needs planning permission from Derbyshire County Council before any work can go ahead at the site. It will also need approval for its plans from the Oil & Gas Authority.
The Environment Agency (EA) said the permit has fixed rules and conditions covering what it described as “common, low-risk industrial activities”. If companies want to carry out other activities on the site in future, they must apply for what is known as a “bespoke” permit that is tailored to those activities.
An EA spokesperson said:
“Our regulatory controls for onshore oil and gas are in place to protect people and the environment.
“Standard Rules permits are common across industry and maintain high levels of environmental protection. They do not allow companies to carry out fracking – this activity requires a bespoke permit application which would be subject to a site-specific environmental risk assessment and extensive public consultation.
“As with all decisions on whether to issue environmental permits, we will assess a company’s proposals to ensure they meet strict requirements. If an activity poses an unacceptable risk to the environment, the activity will not be permitted.”
According to the documents, the permit would allow INEOS to manage extractive waste generated from drilling, coring, leak-off testing, acid wash and decommissioning.
The company estimated its proposal would generate 764 tonnes of waste. This would include:
- spent drilling mud
- drill cuttings
- spent spacer fluid
- spent suspension fluid
- cement returns
- produced and or formation water
INEOS has also applied for a standard rules permit for another proposed site at Common Road, near the village of Harthill, in Rotherham
Environmental impact assessment
Derbyshire County Council ruled in February 2017 that the Bramleymoor Lane planning application did not need an environmental impact assessment.
Several opponents of INEOS’s application appealed against this decision to the Communities’ Secretary, Sajid Javid. INEOS also asked Mr Javid for a ruling. His decision had been delayed by the general election but was received by at least two opponents today.
The ruling said:
“On the basis of the information, the Secretary of State considers that the extent of any impact would be contained mainly in the immediate area. He is not persuaded that this is a development of the magnitude and complexity of impact, in terms of areas and populations affected, to suggest that a significant environmental affect is likely.
“The Secretary of State notes that the development as a whole would be in place for a maximum period of five years, with the drilling phases lasting only three months, and that the site is to be restored as agricultural land upon completion of the project”.
The public consultation on the planning application had been delayed until Mr Javid’s ruling. It is now expected to begin soon.