Appeals by INEOS over two shale gas planning applications are to be heard at public inquiries.
The company said its proposals for exploration wells in the villages of Marsh Lane, Derbyshire, and Harthill, south Yorkshire, had not been decided within a reasonable time. It is appealing against non-determination.
Both the planning authorities involved, Derbyshire County Council and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, deny there has been any unreasonable delay.
The chair of the Rotherham planning board, Cllr Alan Atkin, told RothBiz the council had scheduled a decision for November. But INEOS had asked for an extension to overcome recommendations to refuse the application.
The leader of Derbyshire County Council, Barry Lewis, told the Derbyshire Times
“We reject the suggestion that there has been any unreasonable delay on our part and we’re extremely disappointed that this decision affecting our communities will now be made by central Government.
“Our planning process is a democratic process. It would have been wrong of us to deny local people and statutory consultees the opportunity to comment on the additional information – which was not included in INEOS’ original planning application.”
He said the consultation and analysis of major planning applications like this took time. He told the paper:
“INEOS says it prioritises local consultation and is disappointed that the decision will not be taken at local level – and yet it is the very organisation which has pushed to have a local decision taken out of local hands.”
The two councils are still expected to discuss the proposals at planning meetings in early 2018.
The two appeals are now listed on the Planning Inspectorate website to be decided through public inquiries.
The Marsh Lane appeal reference is App/U1050/W/17/3190838. Link here
The Harthill appeal reference is APP/P4415/W/17/3190843. Link here
Appeals can be heard by written representation, an informal hearing or a public inquiry during which witnesses give evidence and can be cross-examined. Inquiries usually take longer to reach a decision than appeals by written representation or hearing.
Groups or individuals can apply for what’s known as Rule 6 status, which allows them to present evidence to the inquiry and cross-examine witnesses for the council and the company.
The inquiry is a public event and interested people or groups can make statements at the discretion of the inspector.
The first key date in the INEOS appeals is 20 December 2017 when the council must submit key information to the planning inspectorate.
Comments by interested parties are due by 17 January 2018. There’s no information yet on where or when the inquiry will take place.
Decisions on appeals can be made by a planning inspector who chairs the inquiry. The appeal can also be recovered by the Communities Secretary, who will make the final decision following recommendations from the inspector. This happened in the case of Cuadrilla’s appeal against refusal of planning permission for its Lancashire sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.
There’s no information yet on whether the Secretary of State will recover the appeals.