Reaction to Rotherham council’s unanimous opposition to INEOS Harthill shale gas plan

180125 Harthill meeting DoD6

Vote at Rotherham’s planning board, 25 January 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Residents and environmental groups celebrated this afternoon as councillors in Rotherham voted unanimously to opposed INEOS’s shale gas exploration plans at Harthill.

The borough council’s planning board accepted the recommendation of planning officers to oppose the application at a public inquiry later this year on road safety and wildlife grounds. DrillOrDrop live updates

INEOS appealed in November 2017 to the Planning Inspectorate because of what it said were unacceptable delays in the processing of the application.

But councillors defended Rotherham planning officers for the way they had dealt with the application. The board chair, Cllr Alan Atkins, described INEOS’s decision to appeal as “shameful”. Another board member, Cllr Richard Price, said he was disappointed by “the contempt shown by INEOS for local democracy”.

After today’s vote in Rotherham, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee voted 10-1 to reject an application by IGas for testing a gas well at Ellesmere Port (details). Also today, 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)

Yesterday Lancashire County Council also voted unanimously to continue to oppose Cuadrilla over its plans for fracking at Roseacre Wood (details).

DrillOrDrop has been compiling reaction to the Rotherham vote. We asked INEOS for its reaction. This post will be updated with any response from the company.

180125 Harthill site visit Paul Rowland 4

Councillors on a site visit to the proposed traffic route to the INEOS Harthill site, 25 January 2018. Photo: Paul Rowland

Deborah Gibson, campaigner with Harthill Against Fracking

 “This is excellent news for Harthill! The much bigger fight against the development of fracking here and in other surrounding areas, has received a boost today.

“It means that local democratic processes have allowed the people of Harthill to say NO and to be heard and validated by the local planning system. The next step is to take our fight to the Public Inquiry later this year.

“We hope the inspector will understand that the plans for fracking exploration site at Harthill are unacceptable for all the reasons stated today by the RMBC Planning Committee”.

Richard Dyer, campaigner with Friends of the Earth

“It’s great that today Rotherham planners have listened to local community concerns and rightly decided that the impacts of this proposal would be damaging and unacceptable. We now look forward to supporting the Council’s position at the public inquiry.”

“We know that we have to leave the majority of fossil fuel resources in the ground if we are to prevent dangerous climate change, so it makes absolutely no sense to investigate the potential for fracking.”

Dave Kesteven, campaigner with Eckington Against Fracking

 “I’m absolutely delighted that the council have decided to support those who elect them and not a multinational plastics manufacturer whose activities would disrupt our communities and pollute our environment.

“I am sure that this victory will be repeated at the public inquiry and sets a heartening precedent for our village of Marsh Lane which is fighting a similar threat.”

Andy Tickle, director of CPRE South Yorkshire

“We are pleased that the Council’s Planning Board has decided that drilling in this sensitive location is inappropriate and that the impacts were not fully evaluated. We will be strongly supporting the Council at the public inquiry that will now be held to decide the application.”

David Burley, Frack Free South Yorkshire

“Rotherham Planning Officers made their recommendation on sound material reasons based on years of experience of planning law and guidelines. Ineos now has to rely on the Planning Inspectorate arriving at a different decision under the same criteria. That seems unlikely.

“Rotherham Council should now refuse to handle Ineos’ duplicate planning application for Harthill and leave the original one to the Inspectorate’s public enquiry late in 2018.”

26/1/18 Cheshire West and Chester Planning Committee vote corrected to 10-1 to turn down the application


34 replies »

  1. A message to Theresa May and her band of gollums:

    If the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ wanted to support shale gas extraction, they would have bent over backwards to shove all this crap through. As it stands, the Councils have dismissed you ‘Scarlett Overkill’ and put anything and everything in the way to show you what they think of your flawed plans. LISTEN now. Take it off the agenda. We don’t want it, need it and the PPI claim against your governance will be enormous.

    STOP this excuse for keeping the lights on and the creation of a future covered in toxic plastic. Get your cheque book out and invest in clean energy for the people, instead of supporting these business bullies; after all your own GOVT surveys show increasing support for renewables. Do it now and you may yet hang on to your small majority?

  2. Good news all round! But we won’t have seen the last of the fossil fuel dinosaur. It will keep thrashing about, and lashing out until finally dead and buried.

    [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

  3. Urgent government action is required here and elsewhere in the UK as illustrated by the recent run of events. Nationally important resources need to be managed nationally, not locally. Just like the North Sea O&G resources. It is very understandable why council’s listen to the local nimbys. Their re-election counts on it. By leaving big decisions like this to local officials, it is distracting them away from what they should be doing, looking after local issues. While at the same time preventing the development of a whole new indigenous and badly needed on shore energy resource. So, we get the worst of both sides. Government really needs to act in the local interest here and elsewhere in the UK. Too much is at stake to leave these decisions to a local level.

    • Fred your reasoning seems muddled to me, how can removing Local councils input in to the decision making process by Central Government be seen as acting in local interest?. That makes no sense.

      The local issues are being looked after by the councils! Issues like environmental impact, transport implications etc and their affect on the areas around the proposed development site are being highlighted repeatedly with many of these applications. That isn’t listening to the “NIMBYs” its the LAs attempting to protect the communities under their care from unsuitable development.

      If Central Government is so fixed on this developing this industry it needs set clear guidelines as to what is a suitable development site with regard to impact on communities.

  4. Playing to the gallery after the decision has been taken away from these individuals due to their incompetency.

    It might have been better to just move on without this meeting as all it has done is put on the record that many of these individuals were totally uninformed of what was being discussed. I suppose process made it necessary, but the record will come back to haunt them.

    • Again way off the mark Martin. As part of an Planning Inquiry process Parish Councils, LA and Metropolitan BC planning committee’s comments are sought. The Councils can choose to be classed as Rule 6 parties as part of the process and submit evidence to the Inquiry, as LCC, Treales, Roseacre Wharles PC and Clifton PC, did at the PNR/Roseacre Wood Inquiry in 2017.

      The planning committees have to go through this process to establish their position with regard to the application, its Planning Officers recommendations and the inquiry going forward. They have clearly positioned themselves in opposition to the applications, whether this comes back to haunt them will be for the Planning Inspectors to adjudicate on.

  5. Not off the mark at all crembrule. This meeting was held AFTER the decision had already been taken out of their hands. The reason for it being taken out of their hands is well known and will be discussed at the Inquiry. So, perhaps, to make recorded uninformed comments during the meeting held was a little silly?
    From the applicants side, I suspect they are quite delighted with the way the meeting panned out. It certainly didn’t show the members and officers had been requiring extra time to diligently research the subject. Bit difficult to argue local democracy when the democratic process is unable to function, as stipulated. How far Ineos push this depends upon how key this site is to them, but they have already indicated they will lay down some markers early on, so I suspect yesterday’s meeting may indeed come back to haunt them.

    Can’t agree with “clearly” positioned-certainly not from the recorded comments.

    • So how would a council be able to act as an R6 at PI if it had not met and established its position? I don’t follow your logic as there appears to be none.

  6. “I suppose process made it necessary” 8.34am. Ermm-if you read my posts you may find they are absolutely stuffed with logic!

    How’s this for another little logical gem? Considering the councillors and officers failed to meet their statutory timetable, how come they still needed to visit the site the day of the meeting? (25/1/18.) Surely, within the process, this should have been done long ago? What have they actually been doing? No wonder a number of them seemed to be “under cooked” in terms of their research. (No need to answer those questions. I suspect the answers will be sought at the Inquiry, and will become relevant.)

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