Live updates from Derbyshire County Council planning board meeting to discuss INEOS plans for shale gas exploration at Marsh Lane.
This is the first shale gas plan in Derbyshire to come before councillors. INEOS wants to use a rig up to 60m tall to drill a 2,400m borehole to take samples of shale rock.
The company has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate because it was not prepared to allow more time for the council to decide the application. Today’s meeting will decide on the council’s stand at the public inquiry into the scheme in June.
Council planners have said there would no be “no significant impacts or conflicts with development plan policy that would warrant an objection”. But they said “a comprehensive set of measures to control and limit the impacts” would be needed.
Opponents of the scheme said the impacts on the environment and safety would not be acceptable, the scheme does not comply with the county’s mineral plan and is contrary to green belt policy. More details
The meeting at county hall in Matlock is due to start at 1pm and is expected to hear from more than 20 opponents of the scheme. INEOS is not participating in the meting.
Reporting from this meeting was made possible by individual donations to DrillOrDrop.
Councillors vote 9-1 to oppose the application on grounds of openness of the greenbelt, impact of traffic and unacceptable night-time noise impact which cannot be acceptably mitigated by conditions.
4.45pm: Break for officers to write reasons for objection
4.35pm: Chairman sums up
The chairman, Cllr Martyn Ford (Conservative, pictured below left), recommends taking the vote.
He says the committee appears to want to oppose the scheme on noise, traffic, greenbelt issues, public health and visual impact.
Cllr Ron Mihaly (Labour, pictured above centre) says the impacts of the Marsh Lane scheme would not be acceptable. They cannot be mitigated, he says.
“Every meeting, we hear conditions are breached.
“I don’t believe INEOS would abide by any conditions.
“I can’t support the application”.
Cllr Paul Smith (Labour, pictured above right) says he wants the reasons for refusal to include a move to a sustainable energy system based on renewables.
Committee chair, Cllr Ford, says he will not support rejecting the report. But he criticises INEOS for not participating in the meeting.
The behaviour of INEOS is disgraceful.
To treat the people of Derbyshire with such disregard.
4.30pm: Councillors – Robert Parkinson
Cllr Robert Parkinson (Conservative, pictured left) repeats MP Lee Rowley’s concerns about the scheme.
In the planners’ report, he says, the use of the word “on balance” suggests there is a fine balance on three issues: green belt, landscape and visual impact and on noise.
On balance, he says he comes down the opposite balance to the officers.
He says the final part of the route is very narrow and twists a lot. He wouldn’t want to cycle or ride a horse on the route.
“I can’t support the report”
Applause from the hall
4.28pm: Councillors – Alan Griffiths
Cllr Alan Griffiths (Conservative, pictured right) says having driven on the traffic route no one would feel safe with the proposed level of HGVs.
He says he is also concerned about the effect of old mine workings. The only time you find sink holes is when you start drilling.
[Applause from the audience]
4.26pm: Councillors – Mick Wall
Cllr Mick Wall (Labour, pictured left) says he can’t see any special circumstance to justify development in the green belt.
He also says he sees gaps in the planning officer’s report.
“INEOS were clearly setting their stall out that they were not going to meet noise requirements to the detriment of local residents.”
The impact will be significant, he says. Whether it is temporary or permanent doesn’t matter.
Government policy is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but it is putting tremendous pressure on local planning authorities to approve these applications.
“I cannot find anything of any merit to support this report so I won’t be.”
4.18pm: Councillors – Paul Smith
Cllr Paul Smith (Labour) says much of the traffic route comprises single-track roads. There is no lighting on most of the roads, he says.
“As a local member and a community councillor I have still got issues around the suitability of that area to accommodate up to 70 HGVs a day.
“I don’t think that area is acceptable in any shape or form to take that level of traffic.
“It will impact greatly on the community in that area.”
On the greenbelt, he says the development will have an impact on the openness of the area. A 60m drill will be in place for least 12 weeks, he says.
“I am disappointed that INEOS are not here.”
They are, people in the hall, shout. Cllr Smith says:
“They may be here but I am disappointed that they have not taken the opportunity to address the committee and members of the public about the impact of this development. That is absolutely shocking.”
Referring to a decision not to deal with INEOS’s second application, Cllr Smith says he can’t remember when a planning committee not determining a planning application. I find it totally unacceptable, he says.
“We are elected to represent communities and we are best placed to make decisions.
“From my perspective, the way the company has positioned themselves, [if they apply to frack] they will bypass the planning process and use an opportunity to go to appeal.”
Applause from the hall
Cllr Smith says he has not seen an environmental impact assessment, social assessment or a financial suitability test.
“On the evidence presented today on highways, noise and greenbelt, I will move against the officers’ recommendation.”
4.12pm: Response from planning officer
Planning officer, David Arnold, the report accepts that the green belt would be compromised. Our view is that the site would be restored and openness would be restored in the long term.
He says there will be emissions to air when the site is developed. INEOS has said the generators have a very efficient rating.
On highways, Mr Arnold says the council consulted the Highway Authority about safety. He says the statistics on HGVs have been verified by the Highway Authority.
The council consulted the local airports twice and the Civil Aviation Authority.
On noise, Mr Arnold says four sets of noise data had been received from INEOS. The numbers have changed to the detriment of INEOS, he says.
We are confident that our assessment is based on the worst case.
4.10pm: Meeting resumes
The meeting resumes at 4.10pm. Officers are reviewing the evidence presented by opponents.
3.31pm: Opposition speakers – Gloria Havenhand
Beekeeper, Ms Havenhand, of Troway Hall, live three-quarters of a mile from the site. Her rural business is substantial, supplying Waitrose, she says. She has a special accreditation for her honey, she says.
“You can feel my fear about losing my special accreditation.”
Bees can forage up to four miles, she says. We have millions of bees, she says.
The chemicals on the shale gas site will kill her bees and lose her special status, she says. She has dedicated 30 years of her life to the business. There is no indemnity on the table. This will cost her business, she says
3.27pm: Opposition speakers – Andrew Wood
Mr Wood (above), representing Friends of the Peak District, says the application is unacceptable in its own terms. This scheme would impact on the openness and purpose of the green belt, he says.
INEOS seems to have engineered the side-lining of the council, he says. This meeting gives you an opportunity to raise the alarm.”
If members sanction the proposed approach, you go into the public inquiry with no reason for refusal. The county council will have no input other than negotiation over conditions”.
Mr Wood asks if the process can be subverted over an exploratory well, what will happen when we get to fracking.
He urges the committee to reject the application to ensure there is a meaningful inquiry.
3.23pm: Opposition speakers – Chris Crean
Chris Crean (above), Midlands Campaigner of Friends of the Earth, says there are people who feel strongly about INEOS’s plans for Marsh Lane across the whole of Derbyshire.
He urges the committee to not to “allow a red carpet for industrialisation”.
“If you say yes, you are saying yes to fracking across north east Derbyshire.”
The conditions proposed do not safeguard the environment, he says. The planners’ report is not fit for purpose.
He says there have been 40 breaches of noise conditions in North Yorkshire.
“INEOS will look for variations of conditions if it can’t meet them.”
He asks why the 60m drilling rig cannot be shrouded to reduce noise. He says:
“There are so many issues that cannot be mitigated by conditions.
“We recommend you give a strong message to your council to protect Derbyshire at the public inquiry.”
3.10pm: Opposition speakers – Donald King, Andy Jones and Harry Barnes
The three speakers represent Coal Aston and Dronfield Against Fracking.
Andy Jones raises concerns about INEOS figures on the capacity of the site to contain rain water on the pad and a disparity in the number of vehicle movements.
Donald King (above), a government statistician, says INEOS figures are misleading. He says INEOS included class 4, 5 and 6 vehicles in their data on the traffic impacts from lorries.
If you exclude class 5 and 6, the increase in HGV traffic is 150%. This is severe impact, he says.
Mr King says there has been no independent verification of the INEOS data. The planners have accepted what INEOS has done and the report is “deeply flawed” he says. The planners have underestimated the impact of HGVs.
The planners have also over-estimated the width of the lorry route. There is only one short stretch which measures 7.5m but it has been applied it to the whole of the route.
“We are doing all this to help INEOS make cheap plastics. Put yourself in David Attenborough’s position now.”
Harry Barnes raises concerns about former mining activity around Marsh Lane. It is a very unstable area, he says. If INEOS find what they are looking for, there will be a series of disasters from seismic activity, he predicts. It is a pity that the Coal Authority has not raised the issue with you. You can see the material for yourself, he adds.
2.56pm: Opposition speakers – David Kesteven
David Kesteven (above), chair of Eckington Against Fracking, says if councillors do not oppose the application large issues of concern will not be discussed at the planning inquiry. He says:
“To make a level playing field at the inquiry you have to oppose this application.”
He says INEOS acknowledges there will be limited benefits and some disbenefits. Locla planning policy MP13 requires applications to have an acceptable impact on the environment, he says. You have to decide whether this is acceptable, Mr Kesteven says.
The NPPF requires sustainable development. The jobs on the site would not be sustainable, he says.
The planning officer’s report says the greenbelt will be compromised. But Mr Kesteven says a High Court ruling says planners cannot compromise the greenbelt.
Mr Kesteven adds that the energy minister, Richard Harrington said the cumulative impact of shale gas developments must be assessed. Since INEOS made the application for Bramleymoor Lane, the company has also made two applications in Rotherham for drilling and testing.
“The first cumulative impact you will know is for another planning application to frack the Bramleymoor Lane well. You have to take this into account.”
Each new well will need a new application, with a net cost to the council to process it of £80,000. There will also be costs to police the shale gas operation at the site, he says.
Mr Kesteven tells the committee:
“You have a duty of care. You have to look after us.”
He says there were recent accidents on the proposed lorry route. INEOS is planning to take away a bollard to get lorries through.
A pilot would die if it clipped the top of the rig, he adds, asking:.
“Why wasn’t this in the officer’s report. You have to test this at the public inquiry.”
At Springs Road, MIsson, a site is being delivered 125m from a SSSI, where long eared owls nest, Mr Kesteven says. This permission included a condition preventing work in the nesting season. Last week, IGas got permission to continue work for another two months.
On Marsh Lane, he says:
“You need to refuse permission unless the noise levels can be met. You have to get the best deal for the people in this room. You have to reject this application.”
Mr Kesteven says an application for car boot sales on the same site was turned down because of increased traffic. Another application at the same site for a mast, lower than the rig, was turned down because of landscape impacts. 500m away, an application for a car port was turned down because it was “inappropriate” development in the green belt.
“You may think you need extra time to consider the information that has come from people in this room.
“Don’t take an extra week to think about this.
“If there are any doubts you have to vote no now.
“You need to give a strong message to your planning team to oppose this scheme at the planning inquiry.”
[Applause from the hall]
2.52pm: Opposition speakers – Anthony Hutchinson
Anthony Hutchinson represents Coal Aston.
He says houses on the northern side of Eckington Road do not have drives and cars are frequently parked on the street. Crossing the road at some times of the year is like “playing Russian roulette”, he says.
The proposed traffic route to the INEOS site includes sections which have never been widened for large vehicles, he adds. In other sections, there is a narrow pavement, which HGVs would need to mount.
“The suggestion that these vehicles should be allowed to enter Coal Aston is abhorrent. The quality of life for residents would much diminish.”
2.47pm: Opposition speakers – Angelique Foster
Angelique Foster (above) speaks on behalf of Dronfield Town Council, which has objected to the application. She says the council is particularly concerned about highway safety issues linked to the application.
She says Eckington Road in Dronfield on the lorry route is difficult to navigate. There is only one place to cross. In places only single-file traffic is possible..
The town council is concerned about increased HGV traffic on a road already classed as dangerous, she says.
There would be 60 heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) a day during parts of the development. Some of the homes on the route have very small front yards, she says. There would be one HGV every eight minutes during exploration and possibly one every five minutes during fracking.
“This application should be classed as high impact. We ask the planning committee to take account of the impact on our community and oppose the application.”
2.41pm: Opposition speakers – Richard Pointer
Richard Pointer (above) says he lives 480m from the site. He moved to Marsh Lane from a housing estate in Sheffield. The improved air quality, lack of light pollution and quiet were important to his quality of life, he says.
He tells the committee he can hear buzzards calling from a tree on the edge of the proposed well site. There is no conceivable background noise, he says.
“You hear everything in its place and everything that is out of place”.
He questions the accuracy of the INEOS noise information. The second application has different figures for the first. This makes the planning application invalid, he says.
[Applause from the hall]
Cllr Paul Smith, a member of the committee, asks officers for information about the discrepancy in the noise information.
2.30pm: Opposition speakers – Cllr Michael Gordon
Cllr MIchael Gordon (Labour, above) represents Marsh Lane on North East Derbyshire District Council.
He says there are low-level background noise levels in the area. There will be quite a number of people who would be affected over the five years of the application.
Stage 2 of the application will have 12 weeks of 24-hour operation. The noise levels would be 42 decibels. To mitigate this would be an unreasonable burden on the applicant, the officers have argued, he says.
There would be a big difference in noise, Cllr Gordon says. People would find it hard to get to sleep or would be woken up. A continuous three-month period of poor sleep would adversely affect people.
It would be unreasonable to recommend acceptance even with conditions, he says.
Committee member, Cllr Mick Wall asks what would be the impact of an increase of 3db. The environment health officer for North East Derbyshire District Council says this would double sound energy but would not result in a doubling of the sound you would hear.
Cllr Wall says 18 decibels increase would be 64 times the sound energy from night-time background noise levels to the likely noise during drilling at Marsh Lane. It is a substantial increase, he says. The officer says it would not be a 64 times increase in what we hear.
Cllr Gordon refers to the frequent use of the word “temporary” in the 82-page officer’s report. Temporary proposals should be subject to the same planning and highway considerations as permanent, he says. He urges the committee to object.
2.27pm: Opposition speakers – Cllr Alex Dale
Cllr Alex Dale (Conservative) represents communities living on the traffic route.
He says the 60m rig would be seen for miles around. It would contribute to widescale industrialisation, he says.
Cllr Dale says there are sufficient planning reasons to reject the application.
He raises the issue of risk to aircraft approaching an airfield eight miles away. Planes would have clearance of just 30ft from the top of the rig he says. He says he is disappointed that this isn’t included in the officer’s report. He urges refusal of the scheme.
2.21pm: Opposition speakers – Cllr Brian Ridgeway
Cllr Brian Ridgeway (Labour, above), another local county councillor for Marsh Lane, says the roads to the site are little more than country lanes.
Citing coal mining and steel working, he says:
“This part of Derbyshire has already paid its price.”
“The costs are still being felt.”
“To allow an industrial giant to walk into Derbyshire to exploit these assets is not the way to develop north Derbyshire.”
INESO will contribute nothing, he says. It will move from this to frack a well.
“In your all heart of hearts you all know this”.
Cllr Ridgeway tells the committee: “You are elected to represent the people of Derbyshire. Your decision should represent all the people of Derbyshire”.
He describes the decision by the committee not to deal with INEOS’s near identical second application as a “shameful fudge”.
“If you cannot make a decision to support the people of Derbyshire then you should resign.”
[Applause and whistles from the hall]
Planning officer David Arnold says the council had a legal right not to determine the second application.
Cllr Ridgeway says non-determination is: “shameful and spineless and you should all know that”.
2.16pm: Opposition speakers: Cllr Diane Charles
Cllr Diane Charles (Labour, above) represents Marsh Lane on Derbyshire County Council.
She says INEOS has been disingenous in its approach to the application by refusing an extension for the council. She says the council’s refusal to debate the identical application was an attempt to gag local opinion.
“Everyone who has travelled round the area will know the roads are totally unsuitable for heavy goods vehicles.”
“Even with conditions I can’t see how this could be dealt with”, she adds.
Air pollution is one of our primary concerns, she says.
“The additional traffic will impact on air pollution. Even with conditions I do not believe we could support this application without it being detrimental to the local area. I urge the committee to oppose it.”
[Applause from the hall]
2.08pm: Opposition speakers: Jenny Booth, local resident
Jenny Booth (above) gives details of a High Court ruling on the openness of the greenbelt. She says the ruling requires temporary use of land to be subject to the same considerations as permanent development.
As a former planning committee member, she says she is surprised that members have been made aware of these issues and the High Cout ruling. She says
“This is inappropriate development in the greenbelt and should be opposed”.
After her presentation, Cllr Brian Wright asks what are the very special circumstances to justify development in the greenbelt, apart from government support.
Planning officer, David Arnold, says it is not inappropriate development in the greenbelt because of its duration.
Someone from the audience says:
“Have you thought about what you are saying?”
The chair says he will not have people shouting out from the audience.
Cllr Ron Mihaly says he wants to ask specific questions to the speakers. It is pointless putting the questions to officers, he says. He is told this not part of the normal process.
2.05pm: Opposition speakers: MP Lee Rowley
Conservative MP for North East Derbyshire, Lee Rowley, says he had submitted a 10,000-word objection based on the National Planning Policy Framework.
Mr Rowley says he was a former councillor, who sat on a planning committee.
Today is not about fracking or energy policy, he says.
This is a decision about whether the scheme adheres to the planning policy framework.
I disagree with the officers, he says. It contravenes our policy in Derbyshire. Officers accept the openness of the greenbelt will be compromised. There will not be environmental benefit, noise would exceed the guidelines, there would be significant changes in the night time noise environment.
“It is my view there are 22 different planning policies that this scheme contravenes.
“Please reject this application. There is ample reason to reject on ecology, greenbelt and noise.”
[Applause from the hall.]
The committee adjourns until 2pm.
1.35pm: Planning Officer’s presentation – key issues
Planning officer, David Arnold, says mineral development is not considered inappropriate development in the Green Belt providing openness was not harmed.
He says the council has looked at visual impacts. There will be some effects but they will be localised and temporary and for short periods of time. They are not unacceptable, he says.
On ecology, Mr Arnold says there’s unlikely to be an unacceptable impact. [Laughter from the hall]
Noise: Mr Arnold says there are low levels of background noise in the area. He describes guidelines on target noise levels. He says the site does not meet the definition of an open air site [laughter from the hall]. He says noise at night should be no more than 40dba at sensitive receptors. A member of the audience asks:
“Are you going to live next door to it then?”
Air quality. Mr Arnold says there would be no significant impact on air quality
Highway network. Mr Arnold says there would be no significant impact on the highway network.
One member of the audience asks
“How are they going to get things in an out then?”
Water and light pollution. Mr Arnold says he is satisfied effects could be mitigated.
Conclusion: There is support from the government for this sort of development, supported by the NPPF, PPGm and energy policy. There would be no significant conflicts with the development plan, Mr Arnold says.
1.31: Planning Officer’s presentation – policy
Planning officer, David Arnold, says officers assessed the proposal against the minerals local plan. One policy, MP1 aims to prevent irreparable damage to the environment, he says.
He says the scheme was also assessed against the North East Derbyshire Local Plan, the National Planning Policy Framework and Planning Practice Guidance on minerals.
He says there is a pressing need to assess the presence of shale gas and great weight should be given to benefit of mineral development.
1.25pm: Planning Officer’s presentation – the proposal
Planning officer, David Arnold, says INEOS seeks to drill to 2,400m to take core samples of shale rock.
The well would be suspended and could be used as a listening well for other shale gas sites in the area.
The application is for a temporary 5-year period, he says.
Mr Arnold says councillors visited the site and the route that lorries would take if the application were approved.
He says there have been two rounds of public consultation. He says there were 3,192 individual letters objecting to the proposal and nine letters in support. Key issues include, green belt impacts, noise, traffic, water risks, wildlife, visual impact, public health, economic impacts.
Since Thursday last week, there have been a further 500 letters of objection and a representation from Friends of the Earth.
1.15pm: Planning Officer’s presentation – national context
Planning officer, David Arnold, says government policy encourages exploitation for unconventional shale gas, accessed through fracking.
Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences allow companies to explore and develop subject to other consents. The PEDL licences were awarded to successful companies, most recently under the 14th round ending in 2015.
Bramleymoor Road site at Marsh Lane in north east Derbyshire is in PEDL300, awarded to INEOS under the most recent licence round.
Mr Arnold says the application is for exploration. Separate applications will be needed for appraisal and production. Exploration will allow INEOS to assess whether production would be commercially viable.
He adds that the county council is one of several regulators. It should rely on assessments of other regulators, including the Oil and Gas Authority, the Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive. An environmental permit has been issued for the proposed site at Bramleymoor Lane, he says.
1.12pm: Planning Officer’s presentation – latest position
Planning officer, David Arnold, explains the INEOS scheme does not include production of shale gas or hydraulic fracturing.
He says the committee will not determine the planning application because INEOS had appealed to the Planning Inpectorate. The appeal will be heard at a public inquiry starting on 19 June. The council will have to make a statement of case about the scheme. The committee will decide whether to accept the officers’ recommendation.
Mr Arnold says there have been a large number of representations about the scheme.
1.10pm: Planning Officer’s presentation
Planning officer, David Arnold begins presentation about INEOS’s shale gas scheme at Bramleymoor Lane in the village of Marsh Lane.
1.01pm: Meeting begins
Committee chair, Cllr Martyn Ford, opens the meeting. Cllr Ford thanks people who have sent emails to the committee members.
12.50: Officers and councillors begin to take their seats
12.45: Local media interviews
12.30pm: Speakers and audience start taking their seats
12.15pm: Opponents begin to arrive at County Hall
Reporting from this meeting was made possible by individual donations to DrillOrDrop.