Regulation

“Deficiencies, omissions and insufficient surveying” – planners recommend refusal of INEOS shale gas plan in South Yorkshire greenbelt

171025 Woodsetts site

INEOS proposed shale gas site at Woodsetts, Rotherham. Photo: DrillOrDrop

INEOS failed to carry out sufficient surveys of badgers, bats and breeding birds to support its plans for shale gas exploration at Woodsetts, Rotherham council planners said today.

A report to the council’s planning board has recommended refusal of the company’s application for a 2,800m vertical coring well when it is considered next week (8 March 2018).

If planning board members follow their officers’ recommendation this will be the third INEOS shale gas application in six weeks to be opposed by councillors.

The site, on farmland, on the edge of Woodsetts, off Dinnington Road, is about 500m from the nearest homes. The application, which includes pressure testing but not fracking, is for five years.

The planners said there had been at least 550 objections to the proposals, many from Woodsetts and Rotherham borough. There was one letter in support.

“Deficiencies and omissions”

The proposed site is 25m from Dewidales Wood, an area of ancient woodland.

The planners’ report said “insufficient justification has been submitted to demonstrate that there will be no adverse impact on the ancient woodland”.

It said:

“There are a number of deficiencies and omissions within the supporting ecological data, including insufficient surveying work on badgers, bats and breeding birds.

“The omissions are of such significance such that these deficiencies cannot be satisfactorily overcome through the imposition of conditions to potentially mitigate against future detrimental ecological impact.

“Consequently, the Council is not able to fully assess the proposals against national and local policy and the application cannot be supported on lack of ecological supporting details.”

“Significant lack of supporting data”

Woodsetts

Location plan of INEOS proposed Woodsetts site (in red) and ancient woodland (stippled green). Source: Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

The council’s ecologist said the application had “a significant lack of supporting data” due to the lack of, or incomplete, surveys.

INEOS said it had been denied access to Dewidales Wood to carry out surveys of breeding birds, bats and badgers. But the planners said the company had not provided sufficient evidence that it tried alternative methods to survey these species.

According to the report, the company failed to consider correctly the impacts on bat species other than pipistrelles and it did not ask for data from the South Yorkshire Bat Group.

INEOS should have, but did not, carry out a breeding bird survey, the report added.

The company’s application claimed “no birds were observed on the proposed site” during a habitat survey or during subsequent visits for bat surveys. The council’s ecologist considered it “unlikely there were no birds whatsoever on any of the surveys”.

INEOS claimed that the impact on wildlife would be “not significant”, but the council’s ecologist did not “consider it reasonable that these conclusions could be reached”.

According to the report, INEOS did not provide ecological information on hedgerows near the site, nor wildlife in arable field headlands. There was no plant list with the habitat survey and no details of the ecological surveyor’s qualifications, experience or licences held.

The site plan indicates significant built development less than 50m from the woodland boundary but there was “insufficient evidence to justify this limited buffer protection area”, the planners said.

Paragraph 118 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that if significant harm resulting from a development cannot be avoided then planning permission should be refused.

The planners said:

“The applicant has not sufficiently demonstrated that the development can satisfactorily mitigate the potential for harm to the ecology of the surrounding rural environment.”

“It is recommended that the application is refused on lack of ecological information and in conflict with paragraph 118 of the NPPF.”

Other issues

Landscape and visual amenity

INEOS proposes to use a 60m rig for five months and 32m rigs for about nine months of the project. The planners’ report said the development would result in “substantial adverse landscape and visual effects”. But the planners said this would be generally within 1.5km of the site and over the short term only. They said there had been no “formal objections” on this issue.

Noise and vibration

Noise levels would not be at such an adverse level that would justify a refusal, the planners said.

Archaeology

South Yorkshire Archaeology Service indicated there were significant archaeological features on the site. But this could be dealt with by a condition, the report concluded.

Cumulative impacts

The council said INEOS’s proposed shale gas site at Harthill, 5km away, would not result in any cumulative impacts.

Groundwater contamination

The planners said pollution of groundwater was beyond the scope of the planning application and there had been no objections from the Health and Safety Executive, Environment Agency or the council’s pollution control officer.

Green belt

The report concluded there would not be an adverse effect on the long-term permanence of the Green Belt in the area.

“The proposals are not considered to represent inappropriate development in this Green Belt location and, therefore, the principle of development in this location is considered acceptable.”

Highway safety

The Council’s Transportation Unit and Highways England concluded that a safe and suitable access to the site could be achieved and the cumulative impact of the development in transport terms was unlikely to be severe.

Other INEOS shale gas applications

Rotherham’s planning board unanimously opposed INEOS shale gas plans for Harthill on 25 January 2018 on highway safety grounds. This application is to be decided after a public inquiry starting on Tuesday 24 April 2018.

Derbyshire County Council voted by 9-1 on 5 February 2018 against the company’s  plans for the village of Marsh Lane. This application is to be decided after a public inquiry starting on Tuesday 19 June 2018.

Meeting details

The planning board meeting is on Thursday 8 March 2018, at 10.30am at the Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham S60 2TH. Details

 

21 replies »

    • No wonder the Ineos application was refused, their total inability to see any birds or bats near an ancient wood, clearly shows that they either did not look, or if they did, were deliberately auto redacting and self censoring in order to avoid such a controversial issue?

      Did they bother to use binoculars or infra red cameras, or even look? Or were they conveniently blinkered in that well known fashion from seeing anything indicative of an issue that would have revealed that such creatures do exist and were present?
      And one assumes such evidence of wildlife would have resulted in a refusal?

      That in itself is interesting isn’t it? Since it reveals an attitude of mind that Ineos were clearly self censoring in time dishonoured manner and that would reveal that many other issues were similarly self redacted?

      It’s the same issue we see elsewhere, that data on incriminating issues are either ignored, not recorded, or deliberately misreported and obfuscated in order to present a carefully censored self regulated image of no “significant problems”. I find that phrase requires some precise definition before it can be accepted as an excuse for permission?

      What this actually reveals is total failure of any concept of self regulation, since it is often not what is reported, but what is not reported that defines the issue, and hence reveals the inadequacy of the process.

      That is obvious throughout the whole industry. That is why self regulation is not appropriate and cannot be trusted in any way whatsoever.

      “The company’s application claimed “no birds were observed on the proposed site” during a habitat survey or during subsequent visits for bat surveys. The council’s ecologist considered it “unlikely there were no birds whatsoever on any of the surveys”.”

      Perhaps self regulation relating to this industry is now thoroughly discredited and must cease forthwith and be replaced with some real gold standards, should such things ever emerge into the light of day from the obscuring smoke and mirrors?

      • Beautifully summed up there Phil.
        We need to make people aware of how this company with its chequered history operates.

  1. Gotta love how staggeringly hopeless these clowns are…and this is when they’re trying…hard.

    Letting these idiots carry out a highly complex heavy industrial activity anywhere near human beings would be like letting Stevie Wonder drive an HGV through your village.

    • No francis, IF it happens (though lack of storage) an ask for industry to cut down consumption for a short while, no disruption to households…

    • again and again, a storage issue, not supply…..
      You may recall we often run out of grit for the roads at this time of year. Its a simple conundrum. In the UK we have, as yet, very few extreme weather events. Such is then we do not have the permanent resources to cover the larger peaks in weather change. Again, nothing to do with supply, just management.

      • Could this be……Dah Dah Daahhhh! Climate change?? Oh no! i mentioned the “c” word! Well, the “cc” words to be more precise, but hey? Whose counting?

          • Hi Sherwulfe, maybe they had better they wake up sooner or later, anyway its potty time……we see a lot of that recently…..

            • PS, Wasn’t the Porter Ranch blow out a result of an inadequate and untested natural gas storage facility that released 100,000 tons of methane and other gases into the atmosphere and by all accounts is still leaking?

              “The analysis of these samples found above-normal levels of several potentially dangerous compounds present in natural gas, including benzene, toluene and xylenes. “Some of the volatile organic compounds have been linked to health effects if exposure is long-term.”

              https://phys.org/news/2016-02-california-gas-blowout-nation-largest.html#jCp

              There was a plan recently to use the natural cave systems near Swanage to store natural gas, but that plan was abandoned due to local pressure and protest and a protection camp that distributed information on the plans and the dangers due to the interconnectivity of the caves and fissures and the fact the Purbecks are one of the most beautiful ancient tourist areas in the south west.

              So perhaps storage is a good idea on paper, or digits, but the practicality of such large storage facilities would have to have just as much attention as to the efficacy and security and stability of such plans that i am sure will lead to a whole new set of complications and potential dangers that will render the whole concept in the same bag as fracking itself?

              So, yes, good idea in theory, but no, from previous practice of such natural gas storage facilities just raises more alarm bells.

            • Perhaps if we should look at the Porter Ranch blow out, that might explain the recent fluctuations in climate change?

              We could perhaps look at the post Porter Ranch increases in unprecedented weather systems causing floods and droughts and wind speeds in the last two years.

              Perhaps it would also be interesting to view the vast amount of rain and snow that threatened to destroy the emergency spillway of the Oroville Dam due to criminal lack of maintenance. Was that a significant post Porter Ranch event?

              A similar lack of funding for maintenance has plagued us here with so called “austerity” a suicidal process if ever i saw one?

              So i would ask if these increases in climate fluctuations are post Porter Ranch issues, and has this country improved or degraded safety of similar systems either existing or proposed and are we any better off than the USA in maintenance of systems that may well be affected adversely by this rapid climate change fluctuations?

              Look at this present “cold snap” and if you are old enough, remember the last time that this happened in this country was 1962/3, i was just old enough to remember that, but i wasnt around for the previous event just after the 2nd world war, in 1947, probably caused by all that explosive and violent smoke and fire we produced and perhaps also the shock waves into the upper atmosphere from the vast amount of conventional and the very recent nuclear explosions, so it is an interesting exercise to assess what exactly caused this recent cold snap, and could that be the result of our own anthropogenic actions?

              Climate change not anthropogenic? I dont think so.

        • You’re getting boring Kish, no one has run out of gas; it’s to get more money off the consumer (no gas = no business; or even sacked manager for cocking up!). If you believe we are going to run out of finite fuel then best start looking at renewables, fast – did i tell you that you can actually heat your home, cook and get a hot shower with electric?

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