INEOS plans for a shale gas well at Harthill in South Yorkshire would put pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders at risk and should be rejected, according to highway officials.
The local council is now expected to recommend refusal of planning permission.
A spokesperson for Rotherham Borough Council said a special meeting to discuss the plan later this month was now likely to be cancelled.
The scheme, for land off Common Road, is for a shale gas exploration well and a pressure test.
More than a thousand people who took part in a public consultation have objected to the plans and there had been no comments in support at 19 October 2017. There have also been objections from Hartill and Woodall and Thorpe Salvin parish councils, Friends of the Earth, CPRE and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
“Unsuitable lorry route”
Ian Ferguson, Rotherham Council’s senior highways development control officer, said INEOS’s route to bring large vehicles to the site was unsuitable.
If implemented, the scheme would increase the risk to other road users, he said.
In a formal response to the application, Mr Ferguson said:
“I am unable to support the proposal on road safety grounds and recommend that planning permission should be refused.”
He said the stated width of some of the vehicles that would need to come to the site were greater than the distance between boundary hedges.
There were limited informal passing places and there were no plans to extend them to allow a car to pass a large commercial vehicle, he said.
“Road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders would be particularly at risk along those parts of the route where there is no verge, merely a hedge/embankment.”
He said the route was unsuitable to cater for the significant increase in commercial vehicle traffic to be generated by the proposal because of the limited width, restricted visibility, adverse alignment and lack of separate pedestrian facilities.
The proposed traffic management had suggested diverting all non-site traffic but Mr Ferguson said the company had failed to show that all vehicles could follow the diversion safely and satisfactorily.
“It is considered that the intended measures do no satisfactorily address the road safety concerns regarding the introduction of a significant number of additional large commercial vehicles along these narrow country lanes.”
DrillOrDrop asked INEOS to respond to the objections. The company said:
“INEOS Shale is disappointed to learn that Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council planning officers are minded to recommend the exploratory well at Harthill for refusal.
“This is well known technology used to collect geological samples that has been used across Britain thousands of times before without incident or impact on the local surroundings.
“We believe that our plan represents the right proposal in the location and we believe that there is every opportunity for a solution to be found that addresses the outstanding matters satisfactorily.
“We further believe that shale extraction is the right technology for Rotherham based on its industrial heritage of steel manufacturing.
“It is difficult to comprehend why strategically important employers such as Liberty Steel were taken to the brink of closure because of high energy prices whilst supplies of future competitive energy found under their feet are being denied for ideological reasons.”