Live news updates from opening of INEOS shale gas inquiry on Harthill, Rotherham

Packman Lane Harthill Paul Rowland

Packman Lane on the route to INEOS’s proposed shale gas site. Photo: Paul Rowland

This post has live updates from Day 1 of the public inquiry to decide whether INEOS should be allowed to drill a shale gas exploration well at Common Road, Harthill, in south Yorkshire.

The company is appealing against what it said was an unacceptable delay in a decision by Rotherham Council. The council’s planning board voted unanimously in January 2018 to oppose the company’s plans at the inquiry on highway safety and ecology. Last week, the board voted on revised traffic plans, including passing places and stop-go boards and again opposed the scheme.

The inquiry, at Riverside House in Rotherham, is expected to hear evidence from INEOS, Rotherham Council and the community group, Harthill Against Fracking.


Reporting from this inquiry has been made possible by individual donations to DrillOrDrop

Key issues

  • Rotherham Council considers the INEOS appeal “premature”
  • The inquiry hears INEOS submits revised traffic management plan on 23 March but it doesn’t go on council website until 11 April
  • The council is told by the Planning Inspectorate that a decision will be made on whether to consider the revised plan at the inquiry
  • The council’s barrister says INEOS’s “piecemeal” submission of evidence has caused difficulty for the authority and the public
  • Members of the public say they are disadvantaged by the lack of consultation on the revised traffic plans and ask for a four-week adjournment
  • The council and INEOS disagree over who should have publicises the revised traffic management plans
  • Council highways officer changes his mind on recommendation after meetings and site visit
  • Council is disappointed that INEOS began breeding bird surveys last month “at this late stage”
  • INEOS says the council’s traffic objection was based on misunderstanding about the width of Packman Lane
  • The inspector rules that he will consider the revised traffic management plan because it is not a significant amendment to the scheme

4.30pm Inquiry closes

The inquiry resumes at 9.30am on Wednesday 25 April.

4.20pm Council questions to planning witness

Jon Darby, for Rotherham Council, re-examines Anthony Lowe, the council’s planning officer.

Mr Darby asks about the council’s objection on ecological grounds. What precluded the council from being able to arrive at an assessment on the ecological impact of the scheme?, he asks. The information from INEOS was insufficient in numerous areas, Mr Lowe says.

The council was criticised for putting the revised traffic management scheme online sooner. Mr Lowe confirmed that the council did not believe the document would be accepted by the inquiry. But he says a later email from the Planning Inspectorate suggested this it would be discussed. Mr Lowe says it would be INEOS’s responsibility to publicise this.

Referring to an email to INEOS about the recommendation to refuse the application, Mr Lowe says he invited the company to contact him. A dialogue continued, he says. The appeal came as a surprise to the council, he confirms.

The council asked INEOS for extensions of time on 24, 25, and 26 October 2017, Mr Lowe. In November 2017, INEOS asked for a meeting, he says. The council again requested a time extension. But INEOS did not agree this and appealed. The council believes the appeal was premature, Mr Lowe says.

Questions to Rotherham Council planning witness

Gordon Steele, for INEOS, cross-examines Anthony Lowe, the  council’s planning case officer.

4.13pm Email about recommendation to refusal

Mr Lowe confirms that he told INEOS on 18 October 2017 that there would be a recommendation to refuse and there was no purpose in further discussion

INEOS wanted a decision as soon as possible, Mr Lowe says. He says there were other emails before and after this correspondence.

Mr Steele suggests it is not surprising INEOS lodged an appeal given the contents of the email. Mr Lowe says there was a meeting in November 2017.

Mr Steele suggests:

“That is a pretty blunt email”.

Mr Lowe repeats that INEOS wanted a decision.  He says:

“Our timescale required three weeks. We were engaged with INEOS and its agents to secure more information.The council requested extensions of time and INEOS did not agree”.

4pm Timing of revised traffic plans

Mr Steele asks Mr Lowe whether the council had agreed to upload information onto the council’s website. Mr Lowe agrees.

Mr Steele says the council received the revised traffic plans on 23 March but the document was not put on the council website until 11 April. Mr Lowe says it wasn’t clear whether the inquiry would consider the document.

Why was the document not uploaded so that members of the public could look at it, Mr Steele asks. Mr Lowe says the council expressed its dissatisfaction to the Planning Inspectorate. Mr Steele repeats the questions. Mr Lowe says it was not clear whether it would be accepted by the inquiry.

Mr Steele puts it to Mr Lowe that the public had been disadvantaged. Mr Lowe says it was not the council’s responsibility to upload this type of document. Mr Steele says:

“You didn’t like the look of our document so you didn’t upload it.”

Mr Lowe says on 11 April it appeared that the document would be considered by the inquiry. He says it was unsatisfactory. Mr Steele says it was reasonable for INEOS to expect the document to be allowed.

3.57pm Reasons for refusal

Questioned by Gordon Steele, for INEOS, Mr Lowe, the Rotherham Council planning officer, concedes that it is his professional view that there are no highways objection to the scheme.

Mr Lowe also concedes that the ecological reason for refusing the application is a secondary reason.

Mr Steele says the decision-maker has to decide whether there is significant harm and whether it has been adequately mitigated. The mitigation is not mentioned in the reason for refusal so the reason must be in error, Mr Steele says.

Mr Steele puts it to Mr Lowe that there is not likely to be significant harm from the lack of ecological information provided by INEOS. Mr Steele asks:

“How can that possibly be right?”

Mr Lowe says there is potential impact. Mr Steele says unless someone demonstrates significant harm INEOS will not fall foul of the test in planning policy under Paragraph 118 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Mr Steele puts it to Mr Lowe that the council would have control over the number and size of the passing places under the traffic management plan. Without the council’s approval, development could not start, he says. People could comment on this, Mr Steele suggests. Potentially, says Mr Lowe.

3.50pm Hearing resumes

The inspector, Stephen Roscoe, confirms the programme inquuiry (see section at 11.59am Timings and programme)

3.30pm Break

The hearing resumes at 3.50pm

3.07pm Rotherham Council planning witness gives evidence

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Jon Darby (left) and Anthony Lowe, Rotherham Council’s planning kwitness. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Anthony Lowe is the case officer for the INEOS application in the planning department at Rotherham Borough Council. He is taken through his evidene by Jon Darby, the barrister for the council.

Council concerns

Mr Darby asks Mr Lowe when the council first reached its view on the shale gas plans. Mr Lowe says there were always concerns with the highways and ecology aspects.

He says the earliest time it could have gone to the planning board was the end of January 2018. It was actually heard on 25 January 2018.

Mr Lowe says there were no objections to the land use planning issues on the proposals. He says:

“From a planning perspective, there are no development control concerns other than the ecology issue”.

Timing of revised traffic management plans

Mr Darby asks about the chronology of the submission of the INEOS revised traffic management plans.

Mr Lowe says the council received the document on 23 March 2018. The closing date for key documents to reach the Planning Inspectorate was 27 March.

The council expressed dissatisfaction about the revised traffic management plan (TMP) to the inquiry case officer at the Planning Inspectorate on 26 March, Mr Lowe says.

He says the council told the Planning Inspectorate that the changes were significant and the planning board and members of the public should have a chance to comment on them. The council told the Inspectorate that it had no jurisdiction to consult the public.

Mr Lowe says:

“We asked the Planning Inspectorate to clarify whether the new information would be accepted.”

The inquiry case officer did not give a definitive yes or now, Mr Lowe says. An email from the Planning Inspectorate said this would be decided at the inquiry. Mr Lowe says:

“We didn’t know whether the planning inspectorate would accept the document so we didn’t publish it at this stage.”

Mr Lowe says INEOS is responsible for consulting other parties. On 10 April, the council contacts INEOS about this issue.

Mr Lowe tells the inquiry the council decides to address the new document after 10 April and the new traffic management plan is sent to the highways department.

The new document would have to go the planning board, Mr Lowe says. He and a colleague write an urgent statement for the planning board meeting on Thursday 19 April 2018, less than a week before the start of the inquiry.

Current view of the application

Mr Darby asks Mr Lowe about his conclusion on the application now. Mr Lowe says from a planning and highway view there is no objection on the planning balance but there are still concerns about the ecology.


Mr Darby asks Mr Lowe about how the conditions of any planning permission would work. Mr Lowe says the council publishes information about the discharge of conditions. It notifies consultees but not third parties as a matter of course.

If there was a further revision of the traffic management plan, who decides, Mr Darby says.It would be an officer, Mr Lowe says. Who would request further details, Mr Darby asks. It is an open dialogue, Mr Lowe says. Any legal agreement is separate, Mr Darby suggests. Mr Lowe agrees.

3.03pm Public questions to Rotherham Councilhighways witness

Jon Darby, for Rotherham Council, suggests that the public should be allowed to question Mr Ferguson, the highways officer. Gordon Steele says he does not think this is appropriate. The inspector, Stephen Roscoe, says there is an opportunity for people to make statements or asks questions later in the inquiry.

The inspector has no questions for Mr Ferguson

2.48pm Questions to Rotherham Council highways witness

Gordon Steele, for INEOS, cross-examines Ian Ferguson, the council’s highway witness.

Revised traffic management plan

Mr Steele puts it to Mr Ferguson that he did not recommend refusal of the revised traffic management scheme. Mr Ferguson agrees.

Mr Ferguson agrees there is enough space for hedges and passing places on the proposed traffic route. He agrees that he is confident that the 240m staging area in Derbyshire, proposed by INEOS, could be achieved. Lorries would go from there to the proposed section of the route that would be controlled by stop-go boards.

Mr Ferguson says the length of the passing places would be subject to detailed design but could be extended. He says he doesn’t know of any reason why this would not work.

On concern about access to the golf club, Mr Ferguson says he doesn’t expect there would be delays.

Mr Ferguson says he can understand councillors’ concerns. But he says:

“I have no doubt in my mind that the appropriate professional recommendation is to support the application.”

The issue of whether the passing places would be tarmaced would be dealt with at condition stage, Mr Steele says.

Mr Steele asks if he has any reason to doubt the accuracy of the traffic surveys. Mr Ferguson says he does not.

Mr Ferguson confirms that the passing places provide opportunity, over the current situation, for an improvement for horse riders and cyclists. But he says there would be more traffic.

Mr Ferguson confirms, in response to Mr Steele, that he told INEOS in November 2017 that it would be hard to envisage that approval would be recommended on highway reasons.

Mr Steele says INEOS was told that the width of the hedgerows was inadequate to support two-way traffic. Mr Ferguson says the carriageway widths vary. Mr Steele says a site visit has revised the widths and the two sides agree the passing places could be installed.

2.19pm Rotherham Council highways witness gives evidence


Jon Darby (left) and Ian Ferguson, the council’s highways witness

Jon Darby, the barrister for Rotherham Council, introduces Ian Ferguson, Rotherham Council’s highways witness. Mr Ferguson says he has more than 30 years experience in highways development control in the Rotherham area.

History of the application

The inquiry hears that in July 2017, Mr Ferguson and his colleague said they were unable to support the application because of the risk to vulnerable road users from traffic generated by the scheme.

Mr Ferguson tells the inquiry that a second amendment to the traffic management plan was also unacceptable. He says the distance between two sets of proposed stop-go boards did not meet the guidelines.

In September 2017, the highways department met INEOS consultants to discuss the concerns. A temporary traffic regulation order was discussed at the meeting. This would impose a one-way system along Common Road, Packman Lane and Harthill Road when there were deliveries to the site.

Another revision of the traffic management plan was submitted later in September. Mr Ferguson was concerned about whether the Harthill Road/Common Lane junction was suitable for diverted traffic.

In October and November 2017 the council and company discussed the junction, the route and whether the regulation order was appropriate. The discussions were ongoing, the inquiry hears.

Mr Ferguson says his recommendation, made on 20 December, was to oppose the application. By then, INEOS had appealed against non-determination.

Change of mind on recommendation

Mr Ferguson, the council’s highways witness, says there were written submissions until March 2018. There was a meeting on site in February. This, along with the revised traffic management plan, supplied on 22 March, prompted him to change his professional opinion he says.

Mr Ferguson says the “enhanced traffic management plan” includes additional passing places and alternative traffic control which did not involve a one-way system.

He says the additional passing places would allow a car to pass a heavy goods vehicle (hgv). This would significantly reduce the conflict with other road users.

Mr Ferguson says he rejected INEOS’s proposals to use a plastic grid system for surfacing the passing places. The stop-go boards proposed at two sections of Packman Lane would meet highways guidelines, he says, as appropriate mitigation on this part of the route. The traffic regulation order was no longer needed, he says.

INEOS has provided a video animation to show that HGVs could get round a difficult junction on the route. The council could not check this visualisation because it does not have the computer software, Mr Ferguson says. But he adds there is no evidence to show that it is flawed.

Impact of passing places

The inquiry hears that the council’s planning board opposed the revised traffic management proposals. Councillors objected to the ecology impacts of the proposed passing places on hedgerows, Mr Ferguson says. There were also concerns about whether conditions could be enforced.

Mr Ferguson says the INEOS ecological surveys were not carried out at the optimal time of year.


Jon Darby, for the council, asks about the visibility between the passing places. Mr Ferguson says he is not convinced about visibility between two of the passing places but he is happy with the rest.

Mr Darby asks about horse riders and cyclists. They can be accommodated in the passing places, Mr Ferguson says.

Width of the road

Mr Darby says the new plan arose because of a misunderstanding by the council about the width of Packman Lane.

Mr Ferguson says he took 31 measurements. The carriageway widths vary and the hedges grow in and out, he says. He says he now believes there are opportunities for more passing places. His concern is managing the traffic along the initial section of the route.

Consultation on traffic management plan

Mr Darby puts it to Mr Ferguson that third parties can contribute to the traffic management plan when it is finalised.

Mr Ferguson says INEOS will have to enter an agreement with the council on the construction of the passing places. On other measures, the company would need to work with the highways department.

Mr Ferguson says the discharge of condition would be published on the planning website and people would have a chance to comment.

2.10pm Rotherham Council opening statement

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Rotherham Council team on the opening day of the Harthill inquiry, 24 April 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Jon Darby, for Rotherham, says Rotherham Council agreed an extension of time with INEOS for considering the application. The date for decision was set with the indication of a recommendation of refusal on highway issues.

The council requested a further extension and a meeting was held on 16 November 2018.

On 24 November, the council’s planning heard from its press office that INEOS had appealed against non-determination. This was confirmed by INEOS on 1 December 2018.

The council’s case, unanimously supported by members, was to oppose the application on highway and ecological grounds.

The revised traffic management plan was put to councillors on Thursday last week, Mr Darby says. Members did not support the officer’s recommendation to drop the highways objection.

On ecology, Mr Darby says INEOS has sought, at a late stage, to carry out further surveys. He says:

“The council is disappointed that the applicant has sought to address those concerns at such a late stage, rather than during pre-application”.

Mr Darby says

“The applicants approach in submitting further substantial information late and in a piecemeal fashion has caused the council and third parties significant difficulties”.

2pm Inquiry resumes

The inspector deals with more issues of timing and the programme.

1.11pm Break

The inquiry resumes at 2pm.

12.46pm INEOS Traffic management plan

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INEOS’s proposed passing places and stop-go boards in the revised traffic management plan. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Kevin Martin, from INEOS traffic consultant, Aecom, talks about the proposed lorry route to the site entrance on Common Road in Harthill.

He says there are proposed formal passing places on the route, that provide inter-visibility. There are seven passing places on Bondhay Lane, 14 on Packman Lane and four on Common Road.

Mr Martin says there are two sections of the routes for temporary traffic controls because of lack of inter-visibility between passing places. These use stop-go boards and banksmen.

He says the controls will be used for a matter of minutes by a construction convoy. They would be used only when convoys were coming through during the eight months in the first year of the project. He says there would be on average 32 heavy goods vehicles in a daily 12-hour period, or three per direction per hour. There will be construction convoys meaning there would be more and less in some hours.

Mr Martin says the 140-page revised traffic management plan includes a 47-page appendix on traffic flows. These are the same as in the environmental report submitted with the application, he says.

The document also includes drawings, industry specifications, 29 pages of correspondence, previously-submitted swept path analysis and detail of a grass reinforcement construction technique that could be used for the passing places.

Les Barlow, from Harthill, asks whether the use of banksmen will add to the traffic. Mr Martins says the banksmen will have to be transported to the route. The inspector, Stephen Roscoe, says this session is for factual evidence only.

Mr Martin is also asked about a 3-4 minute period through the stop-go section. He says it will be cleared by an advance escort vehicle. He agrees that the duration assumes that the route is clear.

Helen Wilks, of Rosper Farm, says there are two farms and five homes on the route, homes to 13 individuals.

Mr Martin says the passing places are for local background traffic, not convoys. He says construction will not use the passing places. It would be expected that other traffic will concede to construction traffic, he is asked. It is for a matter of minutes, Mr Martin. He says any conflict will be removed as fast as possible.

Mr Martin is asked how long it will take to clear the route. Mr Martin says background traffic will use the passing places to allow the construction traffic to pass through.

Mr Martin is asked what would happen if an oncoming vehicle met a convoy between passing places. He says the lead escort vehicle will advice other vehicles where the passing places.

Tracey Long asks what horse riders would be expected to do. Mr Martin says he expects horse riders to use the passing places.

12.38pm INEOS opening statement

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Part of the INEOS team on the opening day of the Harthill inquiry, 24 April 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Gordon Steele, for INEOS, says the application is for construction of a drill site, new access track, equipment and welfare facilities for five years.

The application does not include fracking and this process is not relevant to the inquiry. He says of the revised traffic proposals:

“We do not seek approval of the traffic management plan and any detailed criticism of the plan is not for now”.

Mr Steele says the main issues are about traffic and ecology.

12.42pm Traffic

Mr Steele says the opposition from the council had been based on the width of Packman Lane. There had been a misunderstanding by council officers about the width, which meant that new passing places could be included.

Council officials now agree with INEOS consultants that the traffic management plan meets concerns. He says the two sides agree there is no reason to oppose the application on traffic safety grounds.

12.45pm Ecology

The issue is whether INEOS has provided enough information. Mr Steele says INEOS considers that it has provided sufficient ecological evidence.

The application is strongly supported by the development plan and government policy on energy issues.

11.59am Timings and order

The inspector, Stephen Roscoe, says the order will be:

  1. Opening by INEOS- Today
  2. INEOS revised highways scheme – Today
  3. Council’s opening – Today
  4. Council’s case and witnesses – Today/Wednesday 25 April
  5. Conditions and site visit – Thursday 26 April
  6. Local residents – Friday 27 April/Tuesday 1 May
  7. INEOS case and witnesses -Wednesday 2 May/Thursday 3 May
  8. Closing – Friday 4 May

11.58am Key issues

The inspector says the key issues are the impact of the scheme on the highway and local ecology. He says he will also consider issues raised by local people.

11.50am Inspector’s ruling on revised traffic plans

The inspector Stephen Roscoe says he is concerned about local feelings that people have been disadvantaged.

But he is also conscious that the council does not regard the revised traffic plans as an amendment to the scheme.

The traffic management plan is a potential option, which would have further work done to it, the inspector says. The council has the professional basis to represent the people.

The document as submitted is a large body of work. I think it would be useful for the appellant to explain the sections that are relevant.

The document should be admitted to the inquiry, the inspector says, but people will have the option of asking questions.

The inspector says he wants to give local people time to consider the document before they give evidence.

Statements on revised highway issues

11.33am Break

The inquiry resumes at 11.50am.

11.32am Deborah Gibson

Mrs Gibson says the spirit of community consultation has not been met. Had we had an effective community liaison group we would not be in this position but we do not have this, she says.

11.15am INEOS and the council respond

Gordon Steele, for INEOS, suggests that he gives his evidence and then the third parties could put their case a week later. It would be unfortunate that local residents felt they were disadvantaged.

Jon Darby, for Rotherham Council, says the council was concerned that the material in the revised traffic management plan would be substantially different. A week was enough for the council’s professional officers but it was not enough for third parties. For the council, it was far from ideal, he says.

The guidance suggests it is for the appellant to consult on late submissions, he says, it is not for the council. Mr Darby says he see no real need for four weeks. But he accepts that until you look at it you can’t make a decision on timing.

Mr Darby says officers felt the revised proposals did not amend the scheme but others may feel differently.

Mr Steele, for INEOS, says the scheme is not amended. The document was not late, he says, it was actually early. He says it can’t be argued that people will be disadvantaged. The document was uploaded online 11 April 2018. There has already been two weeks. Another week would be three weeks, he says.

Mr Steele says if the residents perceive they have been disadvantaged then there should be flexibility.

11.10am Magnus Gallie

Mr Gallie, a chartered town planner from Friends of the Earth, says the late submission without the chance to comment is detrimental to the organisation’s case.

Friends of the Earth was not included in the email of 10 April which went to some parties.

On 3 April 2018, Friends of the Earth, specifically asked to be kept up to date.

FOE was informed last week about the revised plans by other third parties, he says. This prejudiced the organisation’s chance to comment. The amendments material alter the nature of the application. There are seven more passing places on one section of the route alone, he says.

The inspector should consider what was discussed by the local planning authority, Mr Gallie says.

Gordon Steele puts it to Mr Gallie that the description scheme has not changed. Mr Gallie says material that informs the conditions has changed. Mr Steele says the approval of the traffic management plan is many months hence. Concerns can be raised at that time, he suggests. Mr Gallie says there implications for this inquiry.

11.08am Les Barlow

Mr Barlow, of Harthill Against Fracking, says he received an email on 10 April about a revised traffic management plan from someone he has never heard. He says people have not had time to review the document. The new TMP will have an impact on the village. He asks for more time – four weeks – to review the document and make any changes to the group’s defence.

11.03am Andy Tickle statement

Mr Tickle, of CPRE, says on 10 April Turleys for INEOS sent the revised traffic management plan to some who attended.

The covering letter said it included not new proposals. We beg to differ, Mr Tickle says. The previous TMPs proposed six then seven passing places. This increases to 23 and changes their form, as well as adding temporary traffic controls. This materially changes the nature of the application, creating permanent changes.

According the procedural guide, the appeal process should not be used to evolve the scheme. It should consider matters on which interested people’s views were sought.

Mr Tickle says CPRE is concerned that the consultation period was too short to seek interested people’s views, particularly third parties, who did not have time to comment.

Mr Tickle says CPRE’s case is that the application is changed.

11am Deborah Gibson statement

Deborah Gibson, of Harthill Against Fracking, gives her statement about INEOS’s highway safety submissions.

Ms Gibson says most of the people in Harthill who are opposing the application go to work. We are having to do all our opposition work in the evening. We are disadvantaged and prejudiced because of this submission.

One person got it on the previous Friday evening, the rest on Monday morning, she says. It is hard work. We are opposing professional people who are paid to do this every day. We are not professionals, we are doing this as voluntary work.

We have not just had to do our work on the original submissions but also do extra extra work in parallel on the new new submissions.

10.56am Decision on highway safety submissions

The inspector, Stephen Roscoe, says he is willing to hear submissions on the revised highway submissions.

Jon Darby, for the council, and Gordon Steele, for INEOS, say they are happy for submissions on the issue.

Four people say they want to speak on this issue at this stage.

10.40am Revised highway safety submissions

Deborah Gibson, of Harthill Against Fracking, asks for a discussion about late submissions by INEOSon highway safety issues. The inspector says these issues will be debated during public sessions.

Andy Tickle, of CPRE, says he understood there would be a discussion on the late submissions this morning. He questions whether the inquiry should go ahead. The inspector says there is no objection from a main party about the highway safety changes. Both parties have accepted that the late submissions should be accepted.

Mr Tickle says CPRE believes the late submission has prejudiced the case and consultation has not been done with interested people.

Jon Darby, for Rotherham Council, says we have tried to be pragmatic. The council is not happy about the company’s late submissions. He says there is an issue for third parties. This would be a good time for third parties to express their concerns.

Gordon Steele, for INEOS, says the traffic management plan, which contains new passing places and traffic controls, is not part of the application but as part of the conditions. He says a site visit to Packman Lane between the company and the council had showed that widths had been wrong. This allowed the introduction of passing places and resulted in the updated traffic management plan. This was submitted on 23 March to the council and the inquiry, before the final closing date of 26 March. The date was not late, he says, it was actually early.

Mr Steele says he is not uncertain when third parties saw the document. It was not published on the council’s website until 11 April, he says. He says the council’s proofs of evidence had not included the revised highways plans. We are not amending the scheme, he says. The question of prejudice evaporates, he says.

Mr Darby, for the council, says submitting a new 140-page document three days before the final date is late. The council put the document to one side to prepare its own proofs. The document, being lengthy and late, caused delays, he says. He expects third parties will say this caused prejudice.

Mr Steele, for INEOS, says much of the document contained previously-available material. It is not accurate to suggest the document is all new. Only nine pages of text are new.

Mr Darby says he must have a different document. There are appendices and additional text. An assessment had to be done on what was new material. This caused issues to the council and others.

10.30am Who speaks when?

The inspector says he will set out the key issues.

Gordon Steele, for INEOS, will open its case, followed by Jon Darby, for Rotherham Council.

The council will make its case first and call witnesses. Public speakers against the application will then speak. INEOS will then make its case and call witnesses.

There will be a discussion about conditions, should the appeal be allowed.

Closing submissions from all sides end the inquiry. The inspector says he will make visits to the local area in the evening. There will be an accompanied site visit during the inquiry.

10.24am Programme

Inspector Steven Roscoe says the inquiry is scheduled for eight days. He says the hearings will run from 9.30am-5pm. There will be one evening session for members of the public to speak. The date of this session has yet to be fixed.

10.17am Documents

The inspector asks for documents to be made available to the public at the inquiry.

Public speakers submit their statements.

10.03am Key people


The inquiry hears that INEOS is represented by Gordon Steele QC. He expects to call about 12 witnesses.

Jon Darby represents Rotherham Council and expects to call three witnesses.

More than thirty local residents, including the local Rotherham councillor, said they wanted to speak at the inquiry. They all said they opposed the application. Friends of the Earth and Campaign for the Protection of Rural England also asked to speak

10am Inquiry opens

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Opening of the Harthill inquiry, 24 April 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The inspector, Stephen Roscoe opens the first session of the inquiry.

Mr Roscoe explains that the appeal has been brought by INEOS Upstream  against the failure of Rotherham Borough Council to determine the application.

9.20am Opponents gathering outside the inquiry

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Opponents of INEOS Upstream’s shale gas plans for Harthill outside the opening of the inquiry, 24 April 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Reporting from this inquiry has been made possible by individual donations to DrillOrDrop. You can make donation by clicking here

1 reply »

  1. So, already only left with the ecology argument which the previous meetings could not even specify!

    What a waste of time.

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