Reaction to refusal of IGas planning application for testing at Ellesmere Port

180125 CWAC IGas meeting Phil McCann

Opponents of the IGas plan at Cheshire West and Chester planning committee, 25 January 2018. Photo: Phil McCann

Opponents of plans by IGas to test a gas well in Ellesmere Port stood to applaud Cheshire councillors this evening when they voted to reject the company’s planning application on climate change grounds.

The planning committee of Cheshire West and Chester Council voted to refuse the application by 10 votes to 1, against the advice of planning officers.

The committee decided the application did not comply with local planning policy which required oil and gas applications to address climate change and make the best of opportunities for renewable energy.

180125 CWAC march Helen Rimmer

March through Chester by opponents of IGas application to test its well at Ellesmere Port march, 25 January 2018. Photo: Helen Rimmer, Friends of the Earth

Earlier, around 200 people opposed to the application had marched through Chester to the council’s headquarters. More than 2,000 people had objected or signed petitions against the application.

IGas wanted to test the flow of gas in the Pentre Chert rock formation from a well drilled in 2011. The site is about 600m away from the nearest homes and less than 2km from the centre of Ellesmere Port. The company was not seeking to frack the well but the committee heard that it proposed to use 1,200m3 of liquid, including dilute acid in the flow test. Live updates from the meeting here

The decision follows a vote by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council to oppose unanimously plans by INEOS for shale gas exploration at Harthill earlier this afternoon (details) and yesterday’s unanimous vote by Lancashire County Council to continue to oppose Cuadrilla over its plans for fracking at Roseacre Wood (details).

Also this afternoon, the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, said he was delaying his decision on fracking by Third Energy at Kirby Misperton until the company had published its accounts and further financial checks had been carried out (details)


DrillOrDrop has been compiling reaction to the vote from IGas, local MPs, councillors and campaigners.

“Considering appeal”

John Blaymires, Chief Operating Officer, IGas

We are very disappointed by the Committee decision that goes against the recommendation of their Planning Officer and is an application that accords with both national and local planning policy as set out in the planning statement and also has the necessary environmental permits in place.

This area of Cheshire in particular employs a significant number of people who work in businesses who rely on gas – not just as a source of power, but also as a raw material for fertilisers and chemicals.

We will now take time to consider our options including our right to bring forward an appeal.”

“Not here, not now, not ever”

Chester MP Chris Matheson

182501 CWAC Chris Matheson tweet

Local Labour MP, Chris Matheson, tweeted:

“Pleased to see council’s planning committee have tonight turned down an application to flow test a well in Ellesmere Port. Let’s hope that the message is clear from the people in Cheshire West and Chester to the Secretary of State in Westminster – not here, not now, not ever.”

“Government should be backing clean energy”

Polly Steiner, north west campaigner for Friends of the Earth

Ms Steiner, who spoke at the committee, said the application was incomplete because IGas had not given details of the process it planned to use to test the well. She also said people living within 600m of the site would be exposed to flaring, venting and extra heavy goods vehicles. The company had failed, she added, to take account of greenhouse gas emissions from the flare.

Following the vote, Ms Steiner said:

“Councillors have listened to the hundreds of local people who have opposed shale gas testing and thankfully rejected these plans.

“Instead of dirty fracking, the government should be backing clean renewable energy which could create thousands of new jobs in Cheshire.”

“IGas avoided fracking regulations”

Colin Watson, Chester resident and chartered chemical engineer

Mr Watson, who also spoke against the application, said:

“IGas claimed that this is an acid squeeze, which avoids fracking regulations. No matter how you viewed it, it still involved 1,200 tonnes of shale gas to be flared, so we are delighted at the decision today”.

“We hope IGas will respect local democracy”

Matt Bryan, Cheshire West and Chester Councillor

Cllr Bryan, another speaker against the application, said after the vote:

“I am absolutely ecstatic about the result. The committee decided that the application did not adhere to national or local climate change obligations and unusually it received cross-party resolve.

“What we are hoping for now is that IGas will respect local democracy and not appeal.

“We hope that if it does appeal, the Secretary of State will not overturn this democratic decision.”

“No one wants this”

Paul Bowers, Frack Free Dee coalition

“This is a fantastic result.

“I think there is a growing political realisation that no one wants this. We’re no longer talking just to the choir. This is now the consensus. I feel that we are close to getting rid of this toxic industry.”

“Councillors listened and came to right decision”

Peter Benson, Cheshire and District Friends of the Earth

“We are absolutely delighted.

“We have put together fantastic local objections that tore apart the complacent comments that this operation should be safe if we do everything right.

“It was marvellous to see, going round the council table, that the councillors had read what we had to say, they listened to the people who spoke and came to the right decision.”

26/1/18 Vote details in favour of refusal corrected to 10-1

20 replies »

    • “We’ve rejected this application on climate change grounds.” OMG is that funny. Thank god for nationally significant decision-making.

  1. Good grief & I thought the dark ages were over This was a perfectly acceptable planning application unjustly refused due to paranoia. & councilors to frightened they might lose their place on the gravy train.I certainly hope Igas launch an immediate appeal as the grounds for refusal are total BS.

    • Quote – unquote ‘Good grief & I thought the dark ages were over’ says Gasman! You said it! Flick the switch on the way out won’t you. Oh and don’t forget to take ‘Cuadrilla, Third Energy, Angus Energy, Pete Marquis, Trevor Pye (Hauliers) with you to name but a few. Cheerio!

  2. Bring it on, if Igas appeal it will take the climate change issue to national level for the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State – within the framework of the Climate Change Act and the Paris Climate Agreement. At last the Government’s double standards and deceit on climate change will be open to international scrutiny.
    Congratulations to the Cheshire West and Chester Planning Committee and the activists and communities who have fought to defend their place for future generations.

  3. Are these comments getting more predictable as more of these get turned down ? If this is what a few can do then this industry is dead

  4. “What we are hoping for now is that IGas will respect local democracy and not appeal”.

    I bet you are. However, I suspect you will be disappointed in that and will have to explain eventually how you cost your local community a great deal of money.

    Not too much courage behind that person’s convictions.

    • If appeals become overturned by centralised tory anti democratic autocracy, then central government cannot avoid footing the bill for appeals.
      And the publicly accountable borrowed tax payer funded coffers far far outweigh all the miserable tin pot practically bankrupt corporate resources put together.
      The court cases will then have to made a matter of public scrutiny, and then all those nasty little corporate games will become public knowledge.
      Your miserable lot think that centralised overturning permissions will give you Carte blanche, but the truth is it will blow the whole corrupt game out of the secret courts and into the light of day.
      And then the entire country will see what a sick fracking farce it all is.

  5. I expect an appeal.

    There is not another route for IGas at this stage.

    The government ( whoever was in power at the time ) has taken cash in order to allow drilling and exploration.
    It has been knocked back in the planning process, not the political process of voting in the gov.

    However, exploratory drilling and subsequent development is not illegal in England, so the appeal process would need to state clearly why it was not allowed ( a la Wressle ), leaving room for a return to the table with a new plan, which addresses those issues.

    If then permission is refused because the exploration for and production of hydrocarbons is not the right thing to do because of climate change in the UK ( say ), or or is not wanted, then all companies would need to be compensated and trebles all round at board level I guess.

    I am sure this will run on a bit longer.

  6. Yes, hewes62, you are absolutely correct. Up to now, different parties could basically s***w the minnows because they had nothing to hit back with. But that will not happen now with Ineos in play, and if it has to be adjusted for them, all others will benefit.
    I’m not sure how the timing of the Scottish situation fits, but I suspect that will be a salutatory lesson within this process.

    • I suspect that the shots that have all ready been launched across Ineos bows will result in a direct confrontation between government and Ineos.

      Ineos think, quite erroneously, that they will be waved through all regulations to ride roughshod over a government own imperatives that has seen off bigger minnows than Ineos without breaking sweat, or wind in Boris’ case.

      There are two different philosophies in play, one for business. which is don’t give a good service, give the only service, make sure you destroy any opposition and then grudgingly trickle out the minimum monopolised service, at the least cost and maximum profit possible, all else is profit declared or otherwise, and transfered off offshore tax free.

      Whereas government policy, declared or not, is to own it or kill it, or twist it and crush it until you can exploit it for political or personal and party funding gain, that may mean showing support and full speed ahead, at first, until the spike strips are revealed.

      The fracking operators have been assuming all along that the government will move or corrupt heaven and earth to allow the industry to roll over all opposition. they are fatally naive to the point of stupidity.

      The simple truth is from that from the government perspective, is that they want it for their own purposes, probably not even related to fracking and its no name clones. And that does not include the industry getting out of jail free, in fact, because they have gotten too close to hallowed back rooms, entirely the opposite.

      Watch and learn that greed and avarice are not the only prime movers of countries, that is just surface noise, there are deeper forces moving there, not declared ones but far more important to government than mere greed and avarice and lies. That goes particularly for governments that have eschewed democracy but still display emblems, but have actually embraced totalitarianism a long long time ago.

      That is a very dangerous combination, it could be depicted as the depleted uranium armed challenger 2 tank inside the barely concealed velvet cowl.

      That is what is really hidden from view here.

      I suspect the industry will reach a slowly dawning realisation, will be akin to the Monty Python Holy Grail Camelot war cry……Run away! But it will be too late.

      Always a pleasure!

  7. The only problem with that Phil is that it was government of both parties that sold the licences in the first place. Cheshire gave permission to drill the well then refuse permission to test it. That is perverse in anyone’s language and will be found to be so at appeal

    • I didn’t say it was a good thing, in fact i think its all a godawful mess that o ly a few, not any of us really appreciate. The terrible thing is that its innocent unwilling and willfully uninformed and misinformed people that get trapped between the shale and and some very hard cases.
      Also that perhaps the reality of the intimately bound and mutually hateful relationships between governments and corporations are not as clear cut, or as simple as the “i win you lose” over simplified anti anti wannabes seeking nothing but their own profit at the loss of everyone else we see portrayed on these pages?
      It’s the computer game mentality, they think no one gets hurt, or worse don’t give a damn if they do, just restart the game, but life is real people with blood and guts, not switchable soulless pixels on a screen.

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s