Rotherham councillors reject last minute traffic changes for INEOS shale gas site at Harthill

180125 Harthill site visit Paul Rowland 2

Rotherham Council site visit to Harthill, 25 January 2018. Photo: Paul Rowland

Councillors have rejected a revised traffic management scheme for INEOS’s shale gas site at Harthill in Rotherham – against the advice of officials.

The company’s proposals were made public within days of the start of next week’s public inquiry on the site.

INEOS has appealed over what it said was an unacceptable delay in the decision on its application to drill and test an exploratory shale gas well at Common Road, Harthill.

Rotherham Council’s planning board  voted unanimously in January to oppose the application at the public inquiry. They said the proposals were unacceptable on highway safety and ecological grounds.

But as arrangements for the inquiry were being finalised, INEOS submitted changes to the proposed traffic management scheme.

The new scheme included new passing places on the proposed lorry route and the additional use of stop-go boards and banksmen to control vehicle movements. The company also dropped plans for a traffic regulation order to take control of the local road network when it wanted to bring in vehicles.

The revisions were added as an emergency item to today’s planning board meeting at Rotherham Town Hall.

The council’s highway officer, Ian Ferguson, told the meeting:

“Taking this package of measures, together with the temporary nature of the works, I have no choice but to withdraw my objection on road safety grounds.”

The board was recommended to drop its opposition to the scheme on highway safety grounds at the inquiry which begins on Tuesday (24 April 2018).

But members voted by eight to three to maintain their traffic objections.

The local councillor, Dominic Beck, described it as “shameful” that INEOS had not sent a representative to the meeting.

INEOS had said the proposals would provide a long-lasting community benefit. But Cllr Beck said:

“No it won’t. The local community don’t want more passing places because what’s going to happen for these passing places to be implemented is for ancient hedgerows, local habitats and local ecology to be depleted even further.

“The local community does not need more passing places that will be retained after the drilling has taken place. To call it a betterment is just a sop.”

He said the new measures assumed the banksmen and stop-go boards would be in place when needed. “It’s just not good enough”, he said, adding:

“I hope the inspector will see this as a desperate attempt to try to develop Harthill for hydraulic fracturing at the site that is being considered. I think it is shameful.”

The meeting also heard from Harthill Against Fracking and Friends of the Earth, who had both opposed the original proposals.

Deborah Gibson, of Harthill Against Fracking, said:

“To the community, this sounds like a desk-top discussion. We have to live with this. The changes that appellant has made make no difference to the quality of life and the usability of the roads.”

Richard Dyer, of Friends of the Earth, said:

“There is good reason to be sceptical that any planning conditions would be adhered to. It is not uncommon that conditions entered into by local authorities in good faith with the best intentions are simply ignored in practice.”

One board member, Cllr Jennifer Whysall, INEOS accused the company of treating the authority with contempt. “It is despicable, desperation”, she said.

She described the proposals as “haphazard” and an “Elastoplast”. She said the proposed passing places would be “very dangerous for a lot of people”.

Cllr Jenny Andrews said of the new scheme:

“It highlights the unsuitability of the road if they have to put in all these passing places.”

Cllr Bob Walsh was the only board member to speak in favour of the scheme. He said:

“It just about works. Because it is temporary, I don’t think we can sustain it as an objection.”

The planning board agreed that Mr Ferguson would represent their views at the inquiry. It is expected that the inquiry inspector will deal with the issue at the opening and that an adjournment is possible.

The inquiry is likely to hear from INEOS, Harthill Against Fracking, and local residents, as well as Rotherham Council.

After the meeting, Friends of the Earth said:

“Well done Rotherham Council for again standing up to INEOS, the majority of Councillors, quite rightly, were unconvinced by INEOS’ last minute, sticking plaster solutions to the major traffic impacts that this test drill will impose on Harthill. We look forward to supporting the Council’s position at the Public Inquiry into INEOS’ plans starting on Tues 24th April”.

44 replies »

  1. the council have exposed themselves there objection has nothing to do with road safety its just a ruse. they are anti fracking full stop

  2. Whereas you, Mr “Gasman” are obviouly completely objective and neutral?! lol

    Think you need to provide some evidence for your defamatory claims.

  3. Read the comments RG-plenty of evidence, now in the public domain that INEOS will be able to reference. There have been some unwise comments made by councillors reference this site and I suspect the costs could be considerable.

    Perhaps with a little more activity along this road the large amounts of fly tipped material that were shown to be blocking access recently will find their way to less utilised roadways! Or, maybe, some councillors would wish to maintain such flora and fauna?

    • Seven out of eight planning applications refused already this year. Yet again we see Councillors scrutinising and then rejecting these new proposals.

      It would appear that Ineos cannot overcome transport issues which are material planning considerations.

      With all this rejection even before they attempt to start they have no chance of gaining permission for dozens of sites

      UK shale gas. A good example of a ‘hiding to nothing’

  4. You really need to do a little more research on planning, John.

    Next weeks enquiry will put it into context. The Highways Officer, who has no objection regarding transport issues, will have an interesting time! I suspect he understands what is acceptable under planning regulations a little more than the councillors.

    • Martin do you support the recommendation for refusal of Cuadrillas application for Roseacre Wood at the current INQUIRY then? As Mr Stevens, Highways Officer for LCC has objected to the big Cs proposals on the grounds that the don’t meet NPPF para32. If so welcome to the light side of the force.

  5. 7 out of 8 refused John? Against planning recommendations mostly? They are not ‘scrutinising’ proposals. They are delaying and obstructing.

    That’s the best argument ever for removing the decision making process from these incompetent and biased councillors. They have to follow expert recommendations, not scare stories.

    • No Johnson they don’t have to follow Officers recommendations, they can choose not to if they are so inclined although it is more difficult to argue at Inquiry. If the Planning Officers just make the decision that’s called Delegated Powers and that is how things were with shale gas exploration before Caudrilla has issues at Preese Hall on the Fylde and we all know how well that went (pun intended).

      • It may be prudent in these inquiries to appreciate that it is the planning authorities only remit is to protect and moderate within established legal parameters any changes to the existing health and safety of their constituents that may result from change of use to the highways in this TMP inquiry, and the introduction of additional heavy traffic in a rural area that is otherwise unsuitable for such activity.
        The operators, Ineos in this case but also Cuadrilla, have a completely different purpose and aim. That is to maximise profit. That is it, there is no other consideration. In fact a corporation has by legal machinations been allowed to become recognised in legal terms as a “legal person” that emulates, but does not overturn or allow to be comparable to a “natural person” that being you and me.

        The sole purpose of a legal person, a corporation, is in maximising returns to the shareholders, exclusively so, no other consideration is laid down as more, or as important.

        So what does that tell us?

        That the county councils sole purpose is to represent and protect the interests of their constituents.

        The corporations only concern is to make share holder, or private revenue.

        So we see the contradiction in aims and purposes here don’t we?

        One should seek to represent the interests of their constituents.
        The other is only interested in profits or some other way of revenue.

        So, we may deduce quite without any bias one way or the other, that the only protection for residents resides un the council traffic inquiry staff.

        Whereas Ineos and Cuadrilla [edited by moderator] only seek to gain planning permission by whatever means, be it mitigation of conditions or changing the proposals, it matters not which. Traffic matters are merely another hurdle and not, in themselves, at all relevant.

        It really is as simple as that.

        So if you read through the reports and wonder why changes to submissions are constantly changed, it is interesting to note that it is not because it will make the traffic situation safer, or as safe, that is the county council traffic planning authorities concern to challenge and decide, or should be if they are so moved.
        Ineos and Cuadrillas only concern is paper approval, what happens after that is another matter all together.

        [Text edited at poster’s request]

    • So johnson [another rose by another name] it seems you are not au-fait with our planning system, or indeed our democratic system. Clearly angry because you and your pals can’t get what they want by bullying and intimidation? Got to go with the system, it’s part of the licence conditions; Councillors represent the views of people.
      87.5% of applications refused.
      Refuse – to decline to give; deny (a request, demand, etc.):to refuse permission.

  6. Ineos appealed because of non-determination of their planning application. If their new traffic plan is a significant change then how can their original appeal stand?

  7. Maybe, David, they were trying to go the extra mile (excuse the pun) and be good citizens taking on board and up-dating to reflect concerns?
    That’s what it will look like to the inquiry!

    Crafty, or sensible, or both?

    To be honest crembrule, the issues at Roseacre don’t concern me too much either way. If it get’s passed, the focus will still remain on PNR for some while. If it doesn’t get passed then another site can be found quite easily and the planning for that site will possibly be a lot easier if PNR is a success. (Is it a co-incidence that TE will now look to follow PNR?)
    I think you will also find INEOS will operate in a very different way to Cuadrilla-the injunction should have shown that-so, I wouldn’t draw too many parallels.

    • Martin I like your optimism ( not for fracking obviously just in general) but sites with access similar to PNR are not as common on the Fylde as you seem to think hence why it was Cuadrillas main play. I imaging it’s a similar situation elsewhere and n the desolate Nirth.

      If the 500m from nearest “receptor” also becomes a standard those available sites reduce even more significantly.

  8. Johnson-if you are fooled into believing Councillors represent the views of the people, you will match well with Sherwulfe, but within a parallel universe! In the real world you will find they represent their own views, and a few of the people. Sort of situation (real) where you get the Parish Magazine edited by the Councillor’s relative so only one view is ever circulated within the Parish. Not 1984, but 2018.

    You were correct, as there is an Inquiry expert recommendations will be followed. And then, of course, it will be an affront to democracy! The sad old merry go round will continue at other venues until large financial penalties are levied and Councillors are scrutinised for wasting local taxes, having ignored expert recommendations. Not far off, I suspect.

  9. Do you really wonder about that crembrule?

    I have yet to attend any sort of planning enquiry which is not dominated by the antis/NIMBYS.

    Very difficult for anyone, especially locals, to do their own cost/benefit assessment until the benefits are established. I recognise that is the stage the antis fear but to try and ignore it is a major factor really makes your argument look weak and will not convince the undecided. If it would, it would have done so long ago.

    • Very easy for locals to do their own cost benefit analysis Martin.

      What do I gain from the proposal? =nothing directly (I discount the derisiory community payments as they are an insult).

      What is the benefit to me = nothing as I have to bear the imposition of an industry that brings potential issues relating to pollution (water, air,noise, light) and increased hazards in the forms of significant increases in HGV traffic as well as increased disruption from said traffic as well as police and protester activity that did not exist previously.

      Now we have been around the houses regarding the low level of McJobs created, the National need and the fact the country has access to a fully functioning European gas market etc etc so I won’t go into them again.

      So whilst you may see only the pros as you are not directly affected I don’t as I and other locals are directly affected by the cons. Your mindset won’t ever change you until they are putting a rig next to your house. Truly an attitude of I am alright Jack.

  10. I’ve enjoyed reading the above comments, pros and cons…

    I work in the Offshore oil, gas and intermittent renewables industry. I am fully aware more than most about our energy mix and needs past, present and future.

    One scenario that should be considered is this.

    What if all the Companies involved with Onshore oil and gas said we have had enough and due to certain public groups and a slow moving Government all operations producing and future will now cease.

    Greenpeace and all the nimbys will have street parties…

    Then the dust will settle, Greenpeace will say let’s build more wind turbines and solar farms, tidal even…

    Ah says the Government if we do that eveybodys energy bills will rise to incredible levels and industry will go down the tubes. That’s alright says Greenpeace we don’t mind, do it.

    O.K says the Government. Ah we’ve built all these renewables but we won’t be able to build enough batteries to cope when there is no wind or sunshine even if we wanted to.

    What says the Greens, but we’ve made the whole Country move to air source heat pumps and everybody’s paid at least 8 thousand pound each to do it! They’re all getting electric cars as well!

    Sorry says the Government even if we filled the U.K with turbines and solar panels there is no way we can produce enough electricity as and when we need it, we already mentioned we can’t build enough batteries or pay for them.

    Electricity prices hit record highs and green taxes account for the majority of our bills, industry is pretty much gone and fuel poverty is now at unprecedented levels.

    Greens say but It’s January and another beast from the East is coming, will there be enough wind power?

    Government says we don’t know.

    Greens say what about gas and electric from Europe?

    Government says we’ll get what we can, still may not be enough, LNG cargoes are going to the highest bidder, we will have to pass on these prices to the consumer like we did in 2018. Bills rise again

    Government says decrease in revenues from induustry as it is pretty much gone, paying for NHS, council infrastructure etc will suffer massively

    Government says we haven’t enough electricity industry will throttle back first, we know It’s January everyone but please keep power usage to a minimum

    Power problems scare away foreign investment, Country is on the decline

    Government says there is no wind now, sorry batteries can only cope for a few hours

    Government says sorry power only available to essential services

    Government advises buying candles…

    Lights out…

    Your choice?

    • Dear me kisheny! Did you not know that threatening the energy security of the UK is a treasonable offence? That is not a joke! that is the real meaning of energy security. Wars have been fought for less? its been tried of course, u-boats sinking merchant vessels in the mid Atlantic, do we really have to go through that again? the so called oil embargo in the 1970’s which wasn’t actually about oil, but the sinking value of the petrodollar and USA supporting Israel over Egypt. That situation had and has more to do with USA debt to Saudi Arabia than a simple embargo and the effects are still being felt.

      If that thought were to be extended to attempted supply embargo’s in the mid 1930’s then we come back to that unfortunate subject of U-boats in the Atlantic dont we? Funny how that subject just will not lie down isnt it?

      So what would happen if such industrial suicide were to occur?

      First, a lot of people would find themselves behind bars, and not the accustomed drinks variety, which is probably where such a plot was hatched, and all the known assets would be seized without recompense or consideration of payment.

      The secret services and armed services would no doubt hunt down and transport the ring leaders and they would find themselves on trial for treason, for which since the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 became law, the maximum sentence for treason in the UK has been life imprisonment.

      The crisis would never happen, but what would happen is all that government and corporate inertia would be released and investment into non blackmail renewable sources of energy would be released.

      All those suppressed technologies would finally have their day and in spite of the present reliance on fossil fuels we would quickly discover that not only did we not need them, but existing technology had the answers all this time and we would finally be free of totalitarian ego worship and fossil fuel traps.

      End of story, we all live happily ever after, well, most of us anyway, two thirds i think the going figure is? The rest? Well they can always protest outside of the clean water powered generators and Tesla (Nikola) powered energy stations, though i am not sure what they will be protesting about? Not enough methane in the atmosphere? Sky’s too blue? Water too clean? Not enough HGV’s? I am sure they will think of something?

      So yes, if you feel so moved, go for it, i will visit you occasionally from behind the bullet proof glass just to show you the latest technologies that have been freed for humanity to prosper and benefit at last?

      Anything you will like me to bring you? Nothing big enough to hide a file or a drill of course?

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