INEOS looks to bypass local decisions on its first two shale applications

171124draft press statement

A draft press statement suggests the UK’s biggest shale gas company is looking to remove the decision on its first exploration applications from local councils.

The document, apparently from INEOS Shale, says the company wants a government-appointed planning inspector to make the decision on two schemes in the East Midlands.

INEOS has submitted planning applications for exploration wells at Bramelymoor Lane in the village of Marsh Lane in North East Derbyshire and at Harthill and Woodsetts in Rotherham borough.

The document, circulating on social media tonight, said INEOS was asking the Planning Inspectorate to intervene on Marsh Lane and Harthill because the company said no decision had been made by the local councils “in reasonable time periods.”

The Derbyshire Times published what it called an exclusive just over an hour ago which backs up the material in the briefing document. Many of the words in the paper’s story match the draft press release.

The news comes a day after a High Court judge ruled in favour of INEOS’s injunction against anti-fracking protests. DrillOrDrop report

“We cannot wait indefinitely”

The draft press statement said:

“INEOS felt that decisions would not be forthcoming despite granting a number of time extensions.

“INEOS has always prioritised local consultation so is disappointed that the decision will not be taken at local level – however we cannot wait indefinitely.”

The document added:

“The decision has not been taken lightly and we understand the pressure on the local councils – these are nationally important issues being made at a local level.”

Lee Rowley MP2On Wednesday, the Conservative MP for North East Derbyshire, Lee Rowley, told a parliamentary debate that 80,000 had signed a petition against the Marsh Lane scheme and 5,000 people had objected. DrillOrDrop report

He said on Twitter tonight

“Completely oppose Ineos’s apparent move to bypass local decision making on Bramleymoor Lane. Will see urgent clarification on Monday.”

171124 lee rowley tweet

The highways officer at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council had objected to the Harthill scheme on road safety grounds and recommended refusal. At the beginning of this month, more than a thousand people had objected to the Harthill plans. There was then no comment in support. A special meeting to discuss the plans this month was cancelled. DrillOrDrop report

The press statement said the exploration wells would “bring investment into the local area with the possibility that the sites could be used for shale gas development if the surveys are successful.”

It said:

“It is our duty to explore our licence areas and we have recently had the “hurry-up” from the Government’s Oil and Gas Authority.”

The company added:

“We are also disappointed that a strong shale presence in the region has not been more welcomed given the recent manufacturing decline in the region as a result of energy costs, including the almost closure is [sic] the former TATA steel works in Rotherham, now Liberty Speciality Steel.”

According to The Derbyshire Times, Derbyshire County Council said it would continue its work to assess whether Bramleymoor Lane application was a suitable development for the location proposed.

On 13August 2015, the then Energy and Communities Secretaries, Amber Rudd and Greg Clark, issued a joint statement on shale gas. It said the Communities Secretary would actively consider calling in shale gas planning decisions (taking them out of the hands local councils). The Communities would also consider whether to decide an application made to local authority which repeatedly failed to determine oil and gas applications within statutory time frames.

27 replies »

  1. I cannot see this as anything other than a huge PR disaster for Ineos. They will anger communities and local authorities for the long term by taking this course of action. I wonder if there are solid grounds for a non determination, because often it is the applicants that fail to supply either sufficient or correct information to planning authorities. Planning officers are very aware of time scales and will be particularly so when dealing with a shale application. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds as it is usual for the local authority to also have to work with the planning inspector in such cases.
    It is a disgrace that these so called “core exploratory” wells are being drilled under the pretence they are just to obtain samples and as such might not be fracked at a later date. Ineos will not be drilling wells and constructing well pads at around £10m a time on an ad hoc basis. The results would have to be dire for them not to proceed to frack. But what this does in planning terms is it changes the use of a greenfield site into a “brownfield” site and makes the planning application to frack harder to refuse. It does not surprise me in the least why Ineos is so strongly opposed.

  2. 100% of local planning depts have passed plans for current frack wells. (Lancs+KM8)

    Planning should be finished in 6 weeks. Why the delays? The EA are happy even if it was a well for fracking (which it isnt.)

    So should councils be allowed to sit on anything they dont like, for years and years and effectively block a legal activity? INEOS have paid for licences so local councils have to pass the schemes. The opposition is all based on fake information anyway.

    • Suggest you get your facts right. Lancashire County Council did not approve the Cuadrilla application at Preston New Road. INEOS have paid for licences to explore and produce hydrocarbons but according to the government and the industry we are protected by “gold standard” and “world class” regulations which make fracking safe. The Planning process which you criticise is part of this regulation.
      NB These are fact not “fake information”. You need to pay attention.

    • Ken Wilkinson (anon) – your constant crowing that “The opposition is all based on fake information anyway.” makes you look quite ridiculous, but don’t stop – your bravura comedy duo performance with Michael on the KM group is one of the best comic turns I’ve seen for ages.

  3. Make no mistake, Jim Ratcliffe at INEOS gets what he wants in the end. And a jolly good job he does too. I hope the government sit up and take notice of what INEOS wants to do. Potentially, many thousands of jobs and many billions of GBP of investment make shale gas and consequential down stream developments of substantial national importance. We cannot stand in the way of an indigenous energy resource for many decades to come when to do so destroys a whole new industry before it even gets started. I want UK gas powering my heating before I want Norwegian gas or Qatari LNG. That’s the choice that the UK government faces. By the way, before anyone asks, INEOS is welcome to come and drill and frack my back garden anytime they choose.

    • What a pity that you do not provide your name so that INEOS can give you a call. The fact that you wish to have a fracking site in your back garden suggests you do not have the remotest idea of what you are talking about, assuming you are a real person rather than part of the INEOS PR campaign.
      One of the issues raised by the Government and the industry is fuel poverty. You do realise that gas from established sources is far cheaper than UK shale gas will be because of the complex geology here – there is no certainty that commercially viable production will happen.
      In addition exploitation of new reserves of gas would require reductions in production by Russia, USA and all other existing producers if we have a hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change.
      As well as enjoying the “benefits” of a frack pad in your garden I assume you have already persuaded Putin and Trump to cut back on their gas production so Jim Ratcliffe and you can sit back and make £millions. Wake up.

      • Jon Mager, there simply is no way you can ascertain at this point how economically shale gas will be extracted in the UK. It is simply your opinion or that of someone else. There are a lot of geologists and petrophysicists who do think that UK shale can be extracted inexpensively, and there is a lot of money there to support the exploration of this thesis. They believe that gas can be fracked onshore, just as it is offshore, in a competitive manner. Personally, I think that because the shale is so thick in the Bowland, there is a chance that extraction may actually be far less expensive in the UK than it is overseas. Time will tell.

        Hopefully gas extraction will continue to grow world wide as it has been the single largest contributor to the decrease in GHG emissions.

        Have a great day!

    • So INEOS wants to frack in Scotland…nope didn’t get that one
      Now wants a new toy factory churning out 4X4s at the taxpayers expense……..

  4. ‘Make no mistake, Jim Ratcliffe at INEOS gets what he wants in the end’

    What a ridiculous statement

    He wanted to frack in Scotland and in case you have not heard, it is effectively banned.

    The choice this Government faces is whether to increase North sea production by altering the tax regime and how quickly to maximise on our renewable potential.

    As it happens the Government has just announced tax breaks for the North sea and has recently become aware to the fact that renewables are the cheapest and best option.

    Indigenous North sea oil and gas and infinite free sourced renewable energy is what is is going to keep the lights on and our homes warm.

    If you have been following you will have noted that there is very little appetite for CCS but plenty for commercial battery storage.

    World’s biggest battery storage up and running in 100 days making cheap renewable energy even more viable.

    Common sense really

  5. So the monstrous mealy mouthed mighty mangling JR Mewling lurches ungainly into full fossil fueled fatuous fantasy form fired up by his democracy dumping dangerous damn deeply deplorable devils disciple disinjunksham?

    Phew! Just given my spell checker another run for it’s money?

    What a display of overbearing egotism from ineos?

    The message is very simple Jim, even for you, democratic process protections exist in this country to prevent just such attempts as these to run roughshod over this countries people by money grubbing power mongering invaders attempting to overturn this country and dump it into a toxic radioactive poisoned corporate wasteland sacrificed on the demonic alter of power and profit.

    Just how and why this injunction was taken out in secret and even allowed to stand for one second is beyond all reason. One can only assume by methods best not mentioned in polite society.

    Perhaps I would rather not know how or why, my peristaltic convulsion revulsion threshold is not ratcheted up to maximum, nor do I want it so.

    If you don’t like it, you are free, so far, to leave, and go do your damage elsewhere, though I suspect even the deep seas will object and slow wave in front of your tankers. King Canute not withstanding.

    But look around you, the world is getting smaller for exploiters, such days are numbered, in more ways than most realise.

    For those the days will be short in the dark and dismal dungeons of their own making, the rest of us will live in the sun and forget where we put the dungeon keys.

  6. “It is our duty to explore our licence areas” to whom? Apart from your shareholders that is? Certainly not to the people of the area. What a mealy mouthed platitude.

    Ineos certainly seem to have given up trying yo get that social licence to operate don’t they?

  7. Good on INEOS. It’s time for business to stand up to stonewalling from councils not doing its job and playing self serving politics.

  8. Game, Set and………(to be concluded, shortly.)

    So predictable. Councils not willing to conform to standards, so a request to take it out of their hands.

    The professional game is a bit tougher. Players have other things to be doing, so will not sit around being delayed by protestors or local politics. May yet see some costs being recovered for any losses accrued.

    And Ineos still holding back on their aces.

    What shareholders Refracktion? You really need to research the new game a little better.

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