Today’s session of the public inquiry heard statements from members of the public, community groups and campaigners. This post has a selection of these statements.
INEOS appealed to the Planning Inspectorate in November 2017 over what it said were unacceptable delays in deciding the application for a vertical coring well at Common Road, Harthill.
Rotherham Council’s planning board has voted twice to oppose the plans on traffic grounds, once against the advice of officers.
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- The road network is unsuitable for the proposed deliveries
- The scheme is not expected to increase local employment
- The local landscape should have an archaeological survey before consent is given
- There are major faults under the village
- The could not be a more inappropriate location for an exploratory drilling site
- There will be real intrusions and dangers for local people
- Residents, farmers and businesses will be corralled by convoys on Packman Lane
- The application is fundamentally flawed and unsafe for local road users
- Passing places and the use of banksmen will not address concerns about conflicts between road users
- The proposed stop-go boards and banksmen would impose a traffic regulation by stealth
- Convoys would intimidate local people
- The lorry would become a no-go area for local people
- Local people have been disadvantaged by the inquiry because of a lack of thoroughness in the council’s preparation
- The submission of the revised traffic management plan without wider consultation is detrimental to the public’s ability to comment
- Possible ecological damage of the scheme remains unresolved
- Gaps in Ineos data mean the company cannot say there would no adverse impacts
- The council and Ineos have “written-off the potential for climate change impact as a planning issue
- The lorry route would prevent farming activities and access to home, family and friends
- Proposed passing places do not improve safety and would urbanised the character of the lorry route
David Cunliffe, Harthill
My name is David Cunliffe – a resident of Harthill village. I have a number of points to raise but realise some may be repetitive and I have therefore kept this succinct.
Many thanks for allowing me to speak. I felt it was important to do so as the decisions made by you will have an impact on the people of Harthill for many, many years to come.
Firstly I would like to point out that in these situations many villages and villagers are accused of nimbyism. As you are probably aware we cannot be accused of such as there was a successful planning application and subsequent citing of wind turbines just a short distance from the proposed site. This has been accepted and embraced by the villagers as it is a source of clean energy and contributes to the government’s targets on reduction of greenhouse gases. The current application however, will more than offset any benefit gained from the turbines and is almost farcical in its proximity to one another – almost creating and offsetting greenhouse gas in equal measure.
The road network accessing the field/site is without question wholly unsuitable – the majority of it is one car width and already there can be difficulties when two cars wish to pass, or if cars need to pass cyclists or horse-riders so to add into the mix a dramatic increase in diesel lorries will significantly impact on traffic and people movement in the area. This of course would include emergency vehicles (ambulances, police etc) to and from properties lying close to the site and indeed to the site itself should they be required. I regularly walk the dog on Common Road and across the public footpath which borders the proposed site. Like many locals we won’t be able to do this if the proposed development goes ahead.
I feel it is very important to point out that just because companies are keen to progress the fracking arm of their businesses it does NOT make every site suitable and the safety and the wellbeing of individuals must override this. I realise that the current application is for an exploratory well but what would be the purpose of that for the company if the long term goal was not to frack?
Along with this is a concern that if there were to be an accident or hold up on the main worksop road A619 (as there was last week where the road was closed for a time) the temptation would be for the diesel vehicles to divert through the village, passing the school and residences. There is also a concern that the site will lead anyway to increased additional vehicle use and parking in the village for workers employed on the site and for me personally I have a concern as I live close to the proposed site and could therefore experience this.
INEOS have stated that the site will increase employment from the local area but of the workers I have spoken to so far are not local.
A resident in Harthill who unfortunately cannot be here today has carried out an extensive historical study of Harthill over 30 years and has written 2 books detailing his research. INEOS’s own archaeology report confirmed his findings last year – that there is an Iron-Age field system directly under the proposed development. He has identified even more archaeology in the adjacent woods and fields dating back to the Mesolithic period and possibly even earlier.
One of the many archaeological sites that this resident has identified around Harthill will be part of a lottery funded community dig later this year to excavate a possible Iron-Age settlement approximately 600m away from the proposed development.
Rotherham is unique because these archaeological sites under, and all around the proposed INEOS site have never been thoroughly investigated before, so we have no idea what may be about to be sacrificed.
There have been a number of finds in the fields and along Packman Lane over many years. In fact the Skepper family have a collection of 19 silver Roman coins found on their land some dating from 83 B.C.!!
The whole landscape around Harthill needs to be investigated thoroughly before any consent is given. If properly done and the archaeology confirmed, this could provide local jobs in education, heritage and tourism for many, many years to come. This would be an asset for the local population and the whole of Rotherham Borough and South Yorkshire.
Finally I would like to say that it is a matter of current public record that fracking close to geological faults in former coal mining areas could trigger earthquakes and should not take place as this could lead to seismic activity by stimulating faults in geology that were already stressed by mining. The house I previously lived in in the village has a major fault line running across the land and continuing under our 1,000 year old village church. In a report I read it acknowledged that some faults were too small to be identified on geological surveys but were still big enough to cause earthquakes of a magnitude which exceeds the UK regulations on fracking. (April 2018, Prof Peter Styles).
I have many other concerns which I outlined in my original objection and hope that all are studied and it is acknowledged that this is not a suitable site for such a development.
Finally I would like thank the appellant for arranging and financing the recent archaeological investigation at the site.
With a more detailed archaeological investigation that will be carried out if the application is granted and the new findings are very significant and as such in the National Interest are considered to be very important and worthy to be classified as a Site of Historic Interest, then I feel that the site could be donated or purchased for posterity and be managed under the auspices of the like of English Heritage.
Will seismic monitoring be carried out during the drilling phase of the Exploratory Well and will a Traffic Light System be in place?
I ask this as seismic activity could possibly be linked to affecting the geological fault that runs below the Harthill Grade One listed 1,000-year-old Church. As its foundations possibly would not be so robust as more recent buildings such could possibly cause damage to this building.
Chris Brookes, Harthill
My name is Chris Brookes and I have been a resident of Harthill for 25 years, however, my association with the village goes back nearly 60 years. During that time, I have witnessed many planning changes, both good and bad, but none are as damaging as the application before us.
I doubt many people could find a more inappropriate location to put an exploratory drilling site than the one being proposed in Harthill. Whichever way you choose to analyse it, Ineos’ plans and the TMP can only be described as trying to force a square peg into a round hole. The dangers and intrusions into people’s lives are, in my opinion as a local resident, evident and real. In fact, they couldn’t have been better demonstrated than on the site visit – ie nine visitors donned in hi-viz jackets and needing a front and rear banksman, jumping in and out of muddy verges to avoid traffic, whilst trying to look at how “inch perfect” manoeuvres would be needed in some places for Ineos HGVs to pass safely.
Over the course of this inquiry, we have been repeatedly told, ‘there is mitigation for that’ or ‘that point is adequately covered by conditions’. But I say, the only real condition must be for common sense to prevail.
Common sense dictates that HGV lorries and abnormal loads travelling across narrow country lanes, sometimes clearing property walls and hedgerows by mere inches, is folly and will be fraught with unnecessary danger.
Common sense tells us that when road users need to be corralled into one or more passing places, there is an inherent problem with the route and that people will be detrimentally impacted.
Common sense shows that if residents, farmers and businesses on Packman Lane are trapped in the middle, or even outside, of a stop/go traffic system, they are effectively under siege. Howe can this be an acceptable situation, particularly with farmers, who need constant uninterrupted access to their fields and premises?
I would like to ask under which road traffic act is this activity going to be enforced?
Sir, on Friday you heard arguments about the danger to cyclists. To build on this I would like to draw your attention to some cycling data relating to both Packman Lane and Common Road. These screenshots were both taken from the Strava network website for athletes, runners and cyclists and clearly shows the popularity of both locations for cycle training and time trials. There are numerous routes in use around the proposed site. The Honeysykes segment of Packman Lane has attracted over 11,000 time trial attempts by some 1969 cyclists at average speeds of 40km/h. Common Road by Crow Wood has attracted over 1900 attempts by 375 cyclists. I think it is worthwhile mentioning that these figures will actually be conservative, as some riders decide not to record their times.
In any event, this data puts some clarity around the usage by sports cyclists of the TMP route. Further emphasis must therefore be placed on cyclists safety, including concerns for nay debris or mud left on the road by any of the vehicle convoys, particularly in bad weather.
My common sense tells me that we won’t be fooled into believing that this exploratory well offers no harm or detriment to people and that it will only bring benefit. No. This application is fundamentally flawed and will have a dramatic impact on many within the village of Harthill, and the wider environment, for many years to come. I strongly object that our community and our recreational needs are sacrificed for corporate gain. In conclusion, sir, I ask you to err towards common sense and reject this appeal.
Les Barlow, Harthill
My name is Les Barlow I am retired and my home is one of the closest residential properties to this proposed site (approx. 700mtrs). I object to this planning application on the following grounds
- Loss of Amenity
- Visual Impact
One of the reasons I object to this planning application is on the basis I believe the revised “Traffic Management Plan” is flawed and I am extremely concerned about how this proposal will be unsafe for the general public using these single track lanes on a daily basis. At the public meeting with Ineos last year in our Village Hall, the company representative for them admitted that Transport would be a “challenge”. I am of the opinion that the traffic issue will not just be a challenge but will be extremely dangerous for dogs, pedestrians, horses, riders, cyclists and rambling groups.
My son and family live at one of the residential properties at Honeysykes Farm and we often visit, sometimes walking with our dog or driving, I fear that this development will increase the volume of traffic along these narrow lanes making it unsafe to walk. The possibility of having to stand aside to let a large convoy of traffic pass by would not be a pleasant experience.
It has been stated in both the “Conditions” and the AECOM document that the details of the Traffic Management Plan should be discussed as part of the finalisation with RMBC officials once consent has been given.
I disagree with this and think it should be raised in this Inquiry as “important matters” since Traffic issues and Road Safety are at the core of our concerns and objections. The TMP should not be swept under the carpet and the detail will show how unrealistic it is and how it will put the Public at risk
RMBC first recommended refusal of Ineos plans because there are several families living along Packman Lane. Accordingly, the Council, as Highway Authority, was not prepared to make a Traffic Regulation Order under Section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.
This prompted Ineos to come up with a new traffic plan and hence using Stop/Go systems rather than the Traffic Regulation Order they originally asked for. I believe a wrong decision was made when RMBC Planners changed their advice to the Planning Board in favour of accepting the new TMP. However RMBC Planning Board voted to continue with their refusal for this application since they still have concerns around road safety.
There are two misleading aspects in the AECOM document and they are
- The use of Banksmen
- The Stop/Go systems
The AECOM document section 3.5 states “whilst not considered necessary Banksmen could still be used to stop traffic”
The AECOM document infers that there are now sufficient passing places, Banksmen could be used if necessary and therefore there is no need to have any formal control over other traffic.
My belief is that this will not address the concerns about conflict between road users as suggested in the AECOM document. It will make the matter worse and lead to many disputes and accidents.
As you know there have been around 1300 letters of objection to this application and none in support so it is highly unlikely that the majority of drivers along this route will feel inclined to yield to site traffic and convoys of HGVs.
It is unrealistic to expect a horse rider to stand in a passing place and keep a large powerful animal still whilst a convoy of HGVs pass by. Riders may deem standing in a passing place as unsafe and refuse to do so over concerns about themselves and their horse. Horse riders should have an expectation of right of way. I do not think this has even been considered in the TMP.
The question is “If the TMP is to be safe and effective do these Banksmen have any legal rights to direct vulnerable road users and other traffic to a passing place”
Rule 105 of the Highway code states –“You MUST obey signals given by police officers, traffic officers, traffic wardens (see ‘Signals by authorised persons’) and signs used by school crossing patrols.”
I suggest that these Banksmen cannot be “authorised persons” and therefore have no legal powers to make anyone enter the passing places.
The AECOM document states that “temporary traffic control in accordance with Chapter 8 of The Traffic Signs Manual (Chapter 8) is required in the two Stop/Go systems along Packman Lane”
The Traffic Signs Manual states that the Stop / Go system should be used in the following circumstances
D1.1.1 In the operation and maintenance of highway networks, it is necessary from time to time to put in place temporary trafﬁc management measures to facilitate safe road works
And Road works are described as follows:-
D1.5.3 In this document “road works” are deﬁned as any works or temporary restrictions which cause partial or total obstruction of any road or highway, whether on the verge, hard shoulder, footway, cycleway, bridleway or carriageway. Examples may include highway improvement schemes, excavations, structural or maintenance works of any kind, street works or any other work executed on or near the highway together with the necessary working space, safety zones, space required for the storage of any materials, the construction of any temporary structures and the operation of any constructional plant required for the execution of such
I would argue that
- a) There are no roadworks “on or near” the highway on Packman Lane.
- b) The stop/go systems would be approximately 1km away from the proposed site
- c) The site on Common Rd is also isolated from the stop/go system on Packman Lane.
- d) Once again as with Banksmen I would question if a stop/go system is legally enforceable
- e) RMBC Highways dep’t have not given Ineos authority to implement a stop/go system
This is an example of Ineos trying impose a Traffic Regulation Order by stealth.
Key aspects of the Traffic Management Plan
The only signals from other people that a driver is required to OBEY are those given by a traffic officer, police officer, traffic warden, school crossing patrols.
Taking this point into consideration and the fact that Stop/Go systems should not be used on Packman Lane I would say that there is no management of traffic at all. The reliance for the road to be clear for the convoy would be dependent on a voluntary system making it unsafe for other roads users travelling on single track lanes.
I cannot envisage any system at all where it is safe to allow convoys of HGVs to travel on these lanes. Ineos can submit as many traffic management plans as they wish but they cannot get away from or alter the fact that access to the proposed site is via single track lanes never intended for HGVs.
The general public will feel intimidated by the convoys and it will be a case of “I am bigger than you so move over”. I suspect that the convoys will not reverse or use the passing places.
This TMP is an ad hoc arrangement and will create an unsafe situation for all road users.
You can get an idea of the height and width of the hedges from this photograph that includes my Grandaughter.
This is my future daughter-in-law and granddaughter taking their young horse from Honeysykes Farm on Packman Lane. Where are they supposed exercise their horse when there are convoys of HGVs around? They quite often walk to my house on Serlby Lane but feel that this would be unsafe if the proposal went ahead.
Loss of amenity
I have enjoyed the countryside and woods around the proposed site for many years and this is our park, why should our way of life be taken away.
Packman Lane, Common Road and Harthill Field Road would become a no go area because of the safety issues. I walk my dog around the proposed site several times a week, walking along Common Road, around the proposed site and along the public right of way to Serlby Lane. This is not just about dog walking but socialising and chatting to fellow walkers some of whom live on their own and is a life-line for those villagers, quite often you bump into large groups of ramblers.
I cannot imagine or see the fun in walking around an industrial development with all the noise and pollution, I moved to Harthill to get away from this
People like me choose to live in a rural environment to enjoy the countryside and its wildlife, the peace and quiet, lack of traffic and no pollution. I have a grandstand view of the proposed site from my living area and the only neighbours I have to the Easterly side of my property are rabbits, deer, foxes and birds. I love my home and when I go out into the garden it just makes me smile. If the proposal goes ahead the night time view will be polluted with lighting from the site.
This is not about property values, that means nothing to me as my I will never sell our property, this is about a quality and a way of life. Rain hail or shine it is a lovely view across the fields and the panoramic views across to the proposed site are stunning and an area of natural beauty.
I fear that this would be destroyed if permission is granted.
This photograph taken from my patio shows the view of the woods where the proposed site is to be built.
The High Court Injunction that Ineos took out states
“The injunction prohibits the intention to obstruct, impede or interfere with the lawful activities undertaken by the claimants”
Well that works both ways and local people have the right to carry out their lawful business, farming, going to work, children going to school, walking, horse riding, cycling and ramblers enjoying the countryside without hindrance.
Last year an Archaelogical survey was undertaken on the proposed site and a JCB digger was working on site some 700 metres away from my property. The reversing bleeper on the machine could be clearly heard from my house and it was a very penetrating noise which lasted all-day long.
This was only one vehicle and I dread to think what the constant noise would be like with dozens of other vehicles and generators operating, some up to 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Considering noise travelling with the wind, Ineos have stated in their report that the winds come mainly from the south west and therefore noise levels will be acceptable. However we do have easterly winds particularly in the winter, Remember the “Beast from The East”.
The only noises I hear from my property are the birds singing, this whole area is extremely quiet so any background noise introduced by this development would be very annoying. It is not acceptable to have constant background noise even more so at night whilst sleeping with the windows open, this will have a serious effect on my quality of life and mental well-being.
The representatives from Ineos have to get this proposal passed at all costs. If it not passed they may not get a bonus, they may be given a poor end of year rating or appraisal or at worst lose their jobs but they seem to have lost sight of the fact that they are dealing with real people and this traffic issue will have a massive impact on my life, our village and surrounding area.
Their noise predictions indicate that this is within acceptable levels, the new transport system is within the law but this proposal is not morally acceptable and there are real safety issues.
After much debate about how to do it safely as a group you have visited the location and driven the route, please imagine the impact and disruption this proposal will have on vulnerable road users, drivers and my community.
The location is not suitable for the purpose of the application and I hope common sense prevails and the decision on this planning application is based on fact, not assumptions, averages or desktop calculations.
I therefore ask the Planning Inspector to disregard the TMP and to reject this application on all the key points I have raised not withstanding Highway Safety.
Deborah Gibson, Harthill
My name is Deborah Gibson and I am, highly irrelevantly, a registered art psychotherapist and a lecturer, at master’s level, in that subject. I am employed by the NHS. As stated earlier, I am a member of Harthill Against Fracking (HAF) and I live in Harthill, close to Harthill ponds.
Framing information and experience does fall within my professional expertise.
Here is a frame:
Democracy is a hugely important aspect of this public inquiry – for me and for Harthill. Localism is a hugely important aspect of the planning process. In the early stages of this Public Inquiry, there was discussion about disadvantage to Harthill community with regard to Ineos’s late submission of Traffic Management Plan information. While this was partially resolved by a suggestion from Mr Steele I would like to highlight other ways in which we, as a community, have felt disadvantaged from the very beginning of this application.
Much has been made of being, and I reference Mr Steele again here, ‘reasonable, sensible and professional’, sticking to the facts. I will stick to facts that are known and highlight those that are not.
We, as individuals and as a community, knew nothing of fracking … and I will use that word, just as Sir Kevin used it, because this exploration is in the service of fracking. We knew nothing of the local planning process, and certainly nothing of planning appeals to the Planning Inspectorate. Our learning curve therefore has been steep along several strands all at once. Time has not been on our side from the outset. Money has not been on our side either; money with which we could have bought the kind of expertise the appellant has to pitch into this process; money with which we could have bought the quality of legal representation and advocacy we see in support of the appellant.
This is democratic disadvantage.
Throughout the presentations of evidence from Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council’s officials, I have been acutely aware, as highlighted by Mr Steele, that there is a lack of thoroughness in their preparation, demonstrated by their apparent lack of knowledge of their specialisms and understanding of the kind of information that would be useful in this Public Inquiry. We in Harthill made the mistake of relying on the quality of their contributions and are very much left behind now in our research and ability to represent the vagaries and specifics of the TMP and ecology. Our petitions are reliant on local knowledge, heartfelt appeals and friends offering help (one of who, Mr Dupere, knows about noise, in academia and in the field). The rest we have worked hard to assimilate by reading the lines and in between the lines. As I have sat here listening to Mr Steele’s attempts to disparage the credibility of witness after witness, I have picked up some hints and tips, not least that attack appears to be the best form of defence.
Fact not yet clarified:
All other perfectly legitimate road users will be herded off the highway to allow the Ineos vehicles to pass despite the highway being for everyone’s use equally (although I have heard a rumour, perhaps from ancient statute, even common law, that there is a hierarchy of use that should be observed, starting with the most vulnerable; pedestrians, through animals, to smaller, then larger vehicles and onto HGVs; the larger the vehicle the greater the responsibility of care). So we appear to have something of a conflict here; a contradiction in how the roads are used for the duration of this development: they are either closed for the safety of the more exposed road users, in which case the more legitimately sustainable, local businesses will suffer, or it is a free for all along the proposed chicanery of passing places where pedestrians, children, horses, cyclists, motorcycles and cars vie for the safest position off the main highway while the convoy passes. I had always thought that, unless it is clearly stated in the Road Traffic Act (and I have no idea which Act or Section or paragraph, no time to look it up), giving way is an act of courtesy.
Similarly, in common law, a highway, such as Common Road and Packman Lane whose very names demonstrate their historic public availability, is a route along which people can pass and re-pass at all times as frequently as they wish without hindrance or charge; by that definition, a highway must be open to all. Ineos has not shown, in my opinion, any clear plans for keeping the roads open to other road users which includes emergency vehicles on route to the site itself as well as to the rest of us.
Another relevant fact not yet fully articulated:
There is an injunction in place, brought by Ineos against ‘persons unknown’. It is an odd feeling to know that this could be aimed at any driver, pedestrian etc. etc. that does not choose to get out of the way of the convoy; any driver or pedestrian that chooses to exercise their equal right to be on that highway at the same time as the convoy of Ineos vehicles. It is an odd feeling that this could be aimed at any one of us here in this room should we be in their way and it is interpreted as deliberately obstructive. Very odd.
Much has been made of the width of the roads in both the highways evidence and that for ecology. This appears to have been based on the premise that the highway extends from to trunk to trunk. This does not concur, entirely with the legal facts. Boundaries are hard to define in law [for ‘general boundaries rule’ see Section 60 of the Land Registration Act 2002]; field boundaries more so, especially where farmers, through custom and practice, plant inside their boundaries as they appear to be defined, in case they overstep the mark, and to allow for the growth and movement of hedges over time. The appellant cannot ever be sure that they themselves are not overstepping the mark in measuring to the centre of a farmer’s hedge.
The appellant seems to make much of the presence of the wind turbines as one of their excuses for further development. Here is another frame:
Wind turbines are a completely different kettle of fish from a fracking exploration site; different positioning of site and different route to the site; those of us on the Inquiry site visit were shown by Mr Barlow the route taken for the wind turbine deliveries: across the fields on temporary tracks, rather than the impression gained that they went past the ancient hedgerows on Packman Lane [incidentally, the documents pertaining to the antiquity of the road itself, and of the hedgerows, are kept in Rotherham’s Clifton Museum Archives]. Ecologically speaking, these turbines in action are a non-polluting, renewable, sustainable resource of energy, that does not require a parade of service HGVs, unlike the proposal for this development.
Much has been made of the size, height and width of the vehicles, more on this in a moment. May I ask about the facts of the different weights of the individual vehicles we could expect? May I ask that the facts of the effects on the condition of the roads of such weights passing and re-passing, be clarified, and what the plans are for road repairs over the five year period, and whether these extra vehicles for such necessary repairs are factored into the TMP?
Here comes another important frame or perhaps a tale about the lack of an important frame:
There has been no effective community liaison from the start … not because we didn’t offer people with whom to liaise. Government’s and UKOOG’s early documentation outlined their expectation of shale gas operators, that there would be consultation that existed of more than merely one-way information from the developer to the community. There was nothing coming from the now appellant that would be considered within either the letter or the spirit of the requirement for meaningful consultation. Even the lesser wording in the more recent community engagement charter expects some useful community liaison to arise from the engagement (UKOOG, 2014). Had this been in place, the discussion on day one on community disadvantage would not have been necessary because the now appellants could have given us the heads up at the time on their late submission of information to the planning inspectorate and RMBC.
Had there been an effective liaison route, badger sets, corn bunting and bat habitats could have been identified easily through accessing local knowledge … All Ineos had to do was ask. I could be talking out of turn here, but here goes: I imagine much of the costs of this inquiry, if not the whole inquiry itself, could have been avoided by an effective form of communication from the start.
The government’s view of what amounts to sustainable development is set out in paragraphs 18 to 219 of the NPPF. It establishes a “presumption in favour” of sustainable development.
Paragraphs 142 to 149 address minerals generally, and the following parts are of particular relevance to unconventional gas:
This states that minerals “are essential to support sustainable economic growth and our quality of life”. It emphasises the need for a “sufficient supply of material to provide the… energy… that the country needs” and that best use should be made of minerals.
Ineos has not proved that this development is necessary nor intended for the country’s energy supply.
This paragraph deals with planning decision-making and states that local authorities should:
Give great weight to the benefits of the mineral extraction, including to the economy.
ensure, in granting planning permission for mineral development, that there are no unacceptable adverse impacts on the natural and historic environment, human health or aviation safety, and take into account the cumulative effect of multiple impacts from individual sites and/or from a number of sites in a locality;
As I say above, the onus is on the applicant to prove this will be do and Ineos has not made this case.
This states that planning authorities should:
encourage underground gas and carbon storage and associated infrastructure if local geological circumstances indicate its feasibility
Sir Kevin Barron MP has brought this into some doubt in his presentation and I want to bring it round to the exploration phase too]
This states that:
“Minerals planning authorities should work with other relevant organisations to use the best available information to:
- develop and maintain an understanding of the extent and location of mineral resource in their areas; and
- assess the projected demand for their use, taking full account of opportunities to use materials from secondary and other sources which could provide suitable alternatives to primary materials.”
I argue that this includes renewable sources of energy.
Employment offered by this development will be minimal if at all. Catering, accommodation and deliveries seem to be the only areas to provide employment opportunities. In the words of ineos in their
Such sites are never returned to the land’s original condition despite all best intentions, even when top soil and sub soil are removed, retained and replaced. Any farmer will tell you that soil structure is affected by weight on the surface.
Duration of the development
Ineos says the Proposed Development is for exploration activities only, which consists of five phases which would last for a total of between eight months and a year.
The duration of the planning permission requested is five years, after which the site will be restored, unless a further planning application is made for further development.
I was under the impression that the land was leased for five years only, with no opportunity for renewal. As the appellant has been on and using the land for one year already, the works must now be completed in four. If the lease is limited, as I have understood, then there is no opportunity for continuation to subsequent planning applications.
If there is no opportunity for submitting planning applications for fracking and shale gas production, then any argument for the sustainability of this specific application, is considerably weakened.
One thing I have learned about the planning process is that the burden of proof lies firmly with the applicant/appellant. We heard that, on several occasions that proof from Ineos is neither firm nor clearly demonstrated. I ask, for myself and for the people of Harthill, that this appeal is turned down before we end up having to live with the consequences of an inadequate scheme.
Magnus Gallie, Friends of the Earth
My name is Magnus Gallie and I am a chartered town planner (MRTPI), and have 8 years post qualification experience. I represent Friends of the Earth (England Wales and Northern Ireland). We welcome the opportunity to give interested party comments to this Inquiry. Following submission of proofs of evidence and cross examination, we retain objections on the following grounds:
Submission of late transport mitigation and unsuitability of the route
We find the submission of an additional iteration of the TMP, at such a late stage and without the opportunity for wider consultation detrimental to interested parties’ ability to comment. FOE, together with local groups feel prejudiced as a result of the lack of sufficient consultation on the submission.
The appellants’ “refinements” alter the scheme beyond the parameters originally considered by the authority during the application. 7 further passing places proposed on Packman Lane and a banksmen to guide traffic are significant amendments – whatever the context (i.e. either as an application document to support this yet undecided appeal or information to discharge pre-commencement conditions not yet issued). To reiterate what we said previously, according to Planning Appeal guidance:
“…the appeal process should not be used to evolve a scheme and it is important that what is considered by the Inspector is essentially what was considered by the local planning authority, and on which interested people’s views were sought.” – M.2.1
Notwithstansing the Inspector’s view on the the above guidance, we consider there remains a failure to give all interested parties sufficient notice of these substantial revisions. Our view remains that interested parties have been prejudiced, and despite the delayed consideration of this issue to the second week, the third parties should have been given more time to consider the implications.
Additional TMP Content
We consider the additional measures in the revised TMP fail to address reasons for refusal. What consideration to use of banksmen and stop/go areas has been given to non motor vehicle users, or interaction with users of the 6/7 PROW that cross the route? Highway safety is required, for all users, and a lack of clarity on these matters is unacceptable.
The issue of possible ecological damage remains unresolved; specifically concerns for the root systems of ancient hedgerows. Overall, the number of envisaged passing places required to mitigate traffic flows and stop/go routing highlights the unsuitability of the road.
Phase 1 and Bat Surveys
Despite the proof of evidence submitted by the appellant’s consultant and cross-examination of the council’s ecologist we retain the survey work to date is not sufficient to enable the council to establish whether significant harm, or other harms, will occur.
The timing and frequency of bat surveys falls well short of industry standards and guidelines; despite the appellent’s consultants having referenced these in their reports. The Guidelines for Baseline Ecological Assessment state:
(Para 3.12) “the time of year when a survey is undertaken can also significantly affect the quality of the collected data in terms of its coverage, level of detail and accuracy”
Page 46 then states:
“…for all species, appropriate survey methods, carried out at the correct time of year, should be used”.
Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) Guidelines (2016 – 3rd edition) reinforce this approach. Even “low suitability” sites for bats require transect/ spot-count/ time search surveys be undertaken at least one survey visit per season (i.e. Spring: April/May; Summer: June/July/August and Autumn: September/October) and in appropriate weather conditions for bats.
To our knowledge, INEOS’s agents have submitted the results of a Phase 1 from January and bat surveys covering late August and September 2017 only. This evidence confirmed the presence of 5 separate bat species – so we know bats are present both in and adjancent to the site. INEOS has yet to supply data for Spring and early summer.
Despite further surveys being comissioned, we note Mr Godfrey’s comments from last week when he stated that the results of the newest ecological walkover would reveal “sub-optimal” results because it was conducted in March 2018.
The appellents concluded in October that “any significant impact” would be avoided; in part due to low numbers of light sensitive bats found. It is crucial, however, that this . The precautionary approach should be applied until it can be proved otherwise.
As well as para 118, other national and local policy tests also need addressing. The NPPF provides additional considerations for mineral extraction and the natural environment, with this representing an exploratory phase for hydrocarbon development (ie CD4_15 pg 4).
Paragraph 144 states:
“When determining applications, local authorities should:
“ensure, in granting planning permission for mineral development, that there are no unacceptable adverse impacts on the natural or historic environment”
Therefore as well as the para 118 test (re significant harm), the appellents also need to prevent “unacceptable adverse impacts”. Again, without knowledge of protected bat species over 3 full seasons, how can the council, even with “worst case scenario” lighting mitigation (proposed in CD4_15), ensure the draft conditions will be enough to address unacceptable adverse impacts.
The Rotherham Metropolitan Local Plan, is part of the statutory development plan. Policy CS20 (Biodiversity and Geodiversity) states:
“Priority will be given to:
– supporting the positive management and protection of nationally, regionally and locally designated wildlife sites.
– conserving and enhancing populations of protected and identified priority species by protecting them from harm and disturbance…”
Local plan policy wording echoes that of the Conservation of Habitat and Species Regulations (2010), which legally protects such species; with it being a criminal offence to disturb them. Regulation 41(2) defines disturbance as to :
Impair the ability to:
Survive, breed, or reproduce or rear/nurture young; or
In the case of animals or hibernating/migratory to hibernate or migrate
In our view, as well as needing to establish whether or not the development would present significant harm (para 118), the appellents need to ensure “no unacceptable adverse impacts” on the natural environment (para 144), and compliance with local policy CS20, linked to harm and disturbance.
Due to the gaps in the data provided, we do not see how the authority can make such a key judgement, especially when a baseline has not been sufficiently provided. The council also needs to bear in mind its duty under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006):
“The public authority must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity.” (sec 40 – Part 1)
We are told that worst case scenario lighting and operational working scenarios have been considered in remediation the draft conditions) and an arbitrary 30m buffer are enough to ensure no significant harm, although discussion of “unacceptable adverse impacts” or prevention of “harm” or “disturbance” has been limited.
In terms of the effectiveness of mitigation proposed, the appellent’s letter (1st December – CD4_15) provides some insight. Here the agent summarises points from a meeting held with the council in November about further surveys:
“When discussing mitigation, we asked if there were additional aspects which we had not considered. Whilst some possible enhancement measures were discussed (outside the application boundary and therefore beyond the control of the applicant), we felt there was a general agreement that there was little, if any, additional mitigation which could be done, or would be proportionate to, the likely impacts of the proposals.”
Draft pre-commencement condition 1 included within that same letter however stated:
“…Verification surveys for protected species on site shall be undertaken…If protected species are found on the site, development shall not commence until such time as mitigation measures have been agreed in writing with the Minerals Planning Authority and implemented”.
On the one hand the appellents state there is “little additional mitigation which could be done”, on the other they want a condition to say that mitigation will be undertaken if species are found. Surely if no mitigation is possible (presumably in addition to low level LUX lighting), then the risk of significant harm, unacceptable impacts and disturbance to bats remains, and cannot be addressed through conditiones.
Measures to ascertain risks of such harms should not be proposed in pre-commencement conditions after a decision to grant/refuse permission if mitigation is not possible. Instead, the extent of such risks to protected species needs to inform whether it’s suitable to grant permission in the first place. We must therefore wait for robust Spring survey work to be provided.
While the matter is now considered within the statement of common ground, we feel further consideration of climate change cannot be ignored, or side-lined as a consideration for the permitting regime. The appellants have also formally responded to matters of common ground with expert proofs of evidence, so it’s fair to highlight our climate change concerns further.
The Climate Change Act legally commits the UK government to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. Despite the binding nature of this Act and accompanying carbon budgets, it appears that developers and planning authorities continue to ignore the elephant in the room. This legislation must however be the frame of reference for this and other planning decisions going forward.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) an independent body set up to advise the UK government on the implications of exploiting onshore petroleum, including shale gas, for meeting UK carbon budgets 2016 report – Onshore Petroleum (compatibility of UK onshore petroleum with meeting UK’s carbon budgets) acknowledges that fugitive emissions, especially methane, from fracking wells is a fundamental concern to the UK’s ability to keep within climate change budgets.
In plan-making, development plan documents must include policies designed to contribute to the mitigation and adaptation to climate change (s19 1A Duty: Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004). In decision-making, NPPF paragraph 93 is clear that planning plays “a key role in helping secure radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions”. In these different planning contexts, neither the applicants or the authority have suitably considered the scheme’s potential for climate change. It therefore remains a key planning issue in our view.
In terms of whether this is a permitting or planning issue, we note that Mr Pratzsky’s proof of evidence states:
“The Standard Rules permit issued to INEOS does not permit any point source emissions to air, land or water from the site.” (para 4.1.16)
We would ask in the absence of permitting protections, what planning mitigation have the appellents (and will the Inspector) consider reasonable to make the proposal a sustainable form of development and acceptable in planning terms?
Overall, FOE are disappointed that both the authority and appellents have effectively written-off the potential for climate change impact as a planning issue; despite binding carbon budget expectations, national policy and an absence of permitting protections. If no appropriate planning controls can be put in place to mitigate such risk, we would recommend the appeal is dismissed as the development in its current state provides no suitable mitigation in this regard.
Helen Wilks, Loscar Farm
Mrs Wills says she has lived at the farm on Packman Lane in Harthill for 35 years, although the farm has been in the Wilks Family since 1925.
By profession, I am a psychotherapist. I also work part-time running Loscar Farm, which is a small, mixed, family farm i.e. livestock and arable farming.
My husband and son work full-time on the farm and in other part-time occupations to make ends meet. In addition to these work demands, I have Power of Attorney for my sister’s affairs due to her medical condition, which requires regular journeys to visit her to manage her needs. All other everyday activities require travel via Packman Lane, for example, the nearest village with shopping facilities is Harthill, approximately 3 miles away and I enjoy walking our dogs and cycling on the lanes around the farm.
In this presentation, I shall share my concerns regarding the planning application by INEOS Upstream Limited (the Appellant) for the construction of a well site on land adjacent to Common Road, Harthill. I will focus upon the access to the site, the proposed traffic control measures, including the installation of additional passing places on the route, particularly those on Packman Lane and place this in the context of our farming operations. I fear these proposals will have a serious, adverse impact upon our farm business, upon our ability to access our secondary occupations and upon our life in general.
Setting the scene
As stated in previous submissions to Rotherham Borough Council’s Planning Department, Loscar and Honeysykes is thought to be of considerable antiquity. Loscar Farm has existed in its own right for a little under a century, having previously been part of the farm directly opposite (Honeysykes) which was originally owned by the Duke of Leeds Estate. When the Estate was dispersed, the farm house and most of the buildings were on Honeysykes side of Packman Lane, with only one open-sided shed for horses, carts and a blacksmith’s shop at its Northern end, abutting the lane on the Loscar side. This shed was subsequently enclosed with red bricks, which is how it stands today and partly defines the boundary to Loscar Farm. Loscar farmhouse was built in the 1920’s along with other farm buildings.
At Honeysykes Farm, although changes to the structure of the buildings have been made over several decades, the original boundaries remain intact and reflect the fact that the road would likely have been a narrow track for horses and carts. At one point, there is just 4.1 metres between the boundary walls with the carriageway (blacktop) measuring 3.5 metres at the same point. This causes a pinch-point for vehicle movement, which impacts our safety and access, as the exits from the properties are blind.
Today, there is one residential property at Loscar Farm and four at Honeysykes, with a total of 13 residents aged between 7 and 76 years, three of whom are of school-age with two of these travelling by school bus on week days. The adults are all employed either in farming or in other occupations and own 9 cars and numerous agricultural vehicles and implements between them.
There is no means of access to these properties, other than from Packman Lane.
In considering the immediate area around the farms and residential properties, the photograph below illustrates the proximity of the buildings to the narrow road that is Packman Lane.
The entrance to Loscar farmhouse (which is out of shot) is to the lower left, while to the right lies the entrance to the 4 residential properties at Honeysykes, including the newly refurbished roadside property.
Given that the width between the boundary wall on the right (Honeysykes) and our boundary on the left is 4.1m some of the site vehicles cannot navigate the road at this point. In the Proposal and in the AECOM Review, a drilling rig and a wireline truck are 5m wide, water tanks 5.5m, and cranes are 7m wide. The Appellant states that they can reconfigure the loads but give no indication as to how they will do so, especially for rigid-bodied vehicles.
In the next photograph, which looks North along Packman Lane, farm entrances/exits on either side of the road are partially blind to vehicles travelling South. There are two entrances on the left to the farmyards at Loscar and one to the right (Honeysykes farmyard).
The photograph below, looking South, shows a similar scenario at the entrance/exit to Honeysykes residential properties to the left and Loscar farmhouse, a little lower, to the right.
Looking slightly further South (photograph below), there is an entrance to the left leading into the garden/orchard of Honeysykes and another just below into an arable field, beyond which is a blind bend. A passing place and STOP/GO traffic control is proposed around the area of the two entrances.
Travelling further South still (see photograph below), where the road bends to the left, there are high banks and low visibility.
The fields to the right i.e. behind the hedge, are considerably higher than the road and this is one of the fields where our cattle graze. This will be examined in more detail in section 4.
On this section of Packman Lane, we have witnessed a number of collisions or become aware of them due to the victims seeking our help. The applicant states that data from the Crashmap website show only 2 minor accidents on the designated route but local knowledge paints a different picture:
- 11.2017 – Accident at the junction of Harthill Field Road/ Bondhay Lane/Packman Lane involving 2 cars. Police attended. On this occasion, the M1 had been closed and drivers were trying to find detours, including Packman Lane and Bondhay Lane which caused an unprecedented number of vehicles on these roads. Harthill village was also gridlocked.
- 20/10/2017 – 5pm accident below the farms.
- 28/06/2017 – 2 vans collided just below the farm. The van driver travelling south could not exit his vehicle.
- 04/2017 – grey car collided with another vehicle
- 12/08/2016 – car and van collided – all 3 emergency services in attendance (incident 706 PC 3425 Derbyshire Police).
- 2016 – 4×4 collided with car; 30cwt pick-up and car collided; Black car and silver car collided. These are only some of the incidents occurring that year.
- 2015 and before – 3 vehicles turned over on separate occasions – 1 black, 1 silver, 1 dark green; 7.5 tonne lorry and car collided on the bend just below farm; 2 cars jammed between high banks, rear window needed removing for the passenger to escape from the vehicle; sports car overturned after losing control and driving up the bank (“I was only doing 60”).
Serious accident between Thorpe resident and Harthill resident resulting in physical injury; numerous other accidents have occurred on that lane but apparently not on Crashmap website.
Harthill Field Road
30/01/2018 – Approximately 10.30 pm. Two young males called at Loscar Farm for assistance, having ‘run off’ Harthill Field Road into an adjacent field.
Given the proximity of Loscar and Honeysykes buildings to Packman Lane and the nature of the road conditions, I respectfully ask you to consider what effect the proposed high volume of traffic (originally estimated by INEOS at 12,961 of which 8,669 will be LGV’s, HGV’s and abnormal loads, over a five-year period) will have on these properties and the residents in terms of safety, access, noise and vibration, especially during phases 3 and 4 when the traffic control measures will be minimal.
Agricultural operations at Loscar Farm and Honeysykes Farm
Loscar Farm comprises approximately 100 acres of land, with additional land on Common Road and in the nearby villages of Harthill and Woodall and we therefore use all three roads in the ‘triangle’ (Packman Lane/Common Road/Harthill Field Road). While some of the land at the farm can be accessed internally without venturing onto the public highway, much of it is accessed via Packman Lane, as is the farmhouse.
Livestock farming and arable farming bring with them differing demands, with livestock farming being a seven-days-per-week commitment, much of it on the farm but also requiring deliveries of feedstuff for the animals, transporting animals to and from grazing areas external to the farm or to and from markets, visits from veterinary practitioners, and so forth.
Currently we have 74 head of cattle, most of which are suckler cows and heifers, with calves of varying ages and two breeding bulls. These graze outdoors during the months of May to October/November, depending upon weather conditions and the availability of feed. The fields they use are located adjacent to Packman Lane and require stock-proof hedges to ensure their safety and the safety of the public.
Arable farming requires more frequent use of the immediate road network depending upon which of our fields we are operating in and from. The grass fields approximately 400 metres to the North of the farm, for example, which we access from Packman Lane, are used for round bale silage as winter fodder, usually requiring 2 to 3 cuts per season (between May and October).
Each ‘cut’ involves the following operations and therefore numerous journeys along the lane to access the fields:
- Mowing the grass
- Turning the grass, sometimes twice, to aid drying,
- Rowing the grass in preparation for baling
- Baling itself
- Wrapping the bales for winter storage
- Loading the bales onto trailers (each load comprising 10 bales)
- Returning to the farm for unloading and back to the field to reload.
When harvesting barley or other crops in the fields further North (24 acres farmed in two parts of 16 and 8 acres with different crops in each), operations which take place over several months include:
- ploughing and cultivating
- sowing the seed
- rolling the ground to embed the seed
- applying fertiliser
- spraying weeds
- combining the crop
- taking the loads of barley from the fields to the farm
- baling the straw
- taking the bales back to the farm
All these operations, require tractors and implements to move between Loscar farm and adjacent fields – estimated at 260 journeys for the combined sets of operations described above. The land we farm on Common Road and in Harthill and Woodall will mean many more journeys along the route and during harvest time will be concentrated into a few months, as they are very dependent upon the weather and crop-readiness.
Our neighbours at Honeysykes Farm also have three fields on Packman Lane comprising approximately 70 acres of arable land with a proportionate number of journeys between farm and field. Their other fields which are not adjacent to the farm buildings i.e. a further 30 acres, have access points at the junction of Packman Lane/Bondhay Lane/Harthill Field Road and two on Harthill Field Road itself, but ultimately use Packman Lane to access their farm buildings.
When travelling to and from the farm with fully-laden farm vehicles, knowledge of the road network regarding visibility and the camber of the road is vital. The photograph below illustrates how another local farmer needs to drive the tractor and trailer in the centre of the road for stability and safety.
As the proposal suggests that it is the development traffic that will have priority use of the highway and all other traffic use the passing places, this particular vehicle and any vulnerable road users in the vicinity could be placed in danger.
Thus, the Appellant’s application would result in a significant increase in the volume and size of vehicles, potentially causing conflict with other road users, including ourselves. The proposed passing places, some of which are in entrances to agricultural land and at road junctions, for example at Loscar Wood, would do little to mitigate this danger, particularly if convoys of between two and ten HGV’s/abnormal vehicles plus escort vehicles met convoys of agricultural vehicles, as the passing places would not accommodate either convoy. I would also question the legitimacy and common sense of using entrances to private property as passing places.
The stated length of proposed passing places may not be sufficient as shown in the following example, when we recently needed to travel in convoy with agricultural machinery to the nearby village of Woodall. The vehicle lengths were as follows:
Escort vehicle – 2.5m to end of tow bar
Tractor number one with implements – 10m
Tractor number two with implements – 6.7m
Total length (not counting driving at safe distance between vehicles) 19.2m
This convoy would obviously not fit into a passing place of 16.8m, especially when other road users are already there. Neither convoy would be able to reverse safely, if at all.
Other agricultural operations, such as hedge cutting take place, between the months of September and February i.e. outside bird-breeding season. For road side hedges, the tractor proceeds at speeds of 1 -2 mph, with the flow of traffic. Cutting road-side hedges satisfactorily on stretches of traffic-managed road (Stop/Go), would prove very difficult.
To emphasise, arable farming is almost entirely weather dependent. When the crop is ripe, and the weather is favourable, it is vital that farming operations can take place immediately. Our livelihoods depend upon it and access to the public highway is therefore of paramount importance.
Hedges, verges and passing places
All but two of our fields at Loscar Farm are adjacent to Packman Lane and Harthill Field Road and are either pasture or capable of being grazed once the main crop has been harvested. The height and density of our hedges is therefore very important to us as we need to maintain a stock-proof barrier while complying with Highway and Hedgerow Regulations and any proposal to cut back these roadside hedges could compromise their inherent stock-proof nature, their overall integrity and may be contrary to Hedgerow Regulations.
The height of hedges can vary considerably when compared to the height taken from the roadside. Referring back to photograph 5, the hedge height on the roadside of Packman Lane (where the telephone pole is on the right), is approximately 2.3 metres, whereas at the same point in the field it is only 1.7m. A little further South the roadside hedge height is approximately 2.9 m while at the same point in the field it is only 1.9m (measurements taken April 2018). What may appear to be a very tall hedge from the road is of normal height inside the field and needs maintaining as such to keep our animals safe.
To illustrate this point on safety, on average, adult Charolais cows are 1.35 m tall, with a further head and neck reach of approximately 0.8m. Their average weight can be between 700 kilos and 1.25 tonnes depending on age and whether they are in-calf. The calves obviously vary in size and weight, but the need to maintain hedge height and density is clear as the grass always seems to be greener on the other side where cattle are concerned.
I am not legally trained but my interpretation of the law on boundaries is that proof of title could be required to determine the precise boundary between property and highway (rather than assuming it to be the centre of a hedge).
Verges and passing places
The photograph above (looking South), shows a dip on Packman Lane approximately 400 metres North of Loscar and Honeysykes . At this point, a dyke runs under the road, via two culverts and as it is a low point, can become flooded. The verge has already given way to some degree, as has the culvert. A passing place has been proposed at this site near the wall.
Currently, when emerging from our field (just out of shot to the right and opposite the proposed passing place) with a tractor and trailer fully-laden with round-bale silage, we are unsighted to any vehicles which may be travelling North between the farms and must negotiate each other at a wide point at the brow of the hill. While a further passing place is planned on the left near to the tree in the picture, if there are other road users looking to use the passing place, there would be insufficient room to enter with our tractor and trailer.
Verges also serve the purpose of protecting flora and fauna. Will these habitats be damaged by the scheme? This area at photograph seven, for example, has been identified by a DEFRA veterinary practitioner as having two places where badgers move between fields on either side of Packman Lane, while a pair of mallard ducks are currently using the stream to prepare for nesting. It is also believed to be the habitat of the woodland white butterfly and I have already seen the presence of celandine, daisy, bluebell, and Star of Bethlehem amongst other flora growing on the verges.
Another proposed passing place is at the entrance to one of our fields further North on Packman Lane (see below)
The bollards define the boundary between the highway and our property, which was agreed with Rotherham MBC’s Highways Department. This entrance requires 24-hour access which is often denied to us by people parking their vehicles there. In common with other nearby gateways in the area, this involves behaviours such as using signs for target practice with pellet guns, letting off fireworks, leaving drugs paraphernalia and other litter, while others simply see it as an opportunity to rest, use their phones etc. The following examples below are not suggestive of any wrong-doing on the part of the participants but were documented as evidence of the practical difficulties we face in gaining access to our property.
- 30/03/2017 3 Police Officers, including PC 3699 Amanda Dickinson, Community Liaison Officer, parked in this entrance in an unmarked car. When approached to gain access to the site, they stated that they were concerned about the prospect of civil unrest and wished to ensure the landowner of the proposed well site had their protection. They believed that the field on the opposite side of the road near to Loscar Wood was the well site, rather than on Common Road.
- 28/06/2017 Vehicles belonging to the company performing seismic surveys were parked in the gateway. We asked them to move to gain access.
- 01/07/2017 Seismic survey personnel were setting up equipment in the gateway in preparation for surveying the fields opposite. Once again, we asked them to keep the gateway clear for access.
- October 2017 A car, was seen on Packman Lane several times, often parked in the gateway with the boot lid raised. The men stated that they were ‘undercover security working for INEOS’.
A further concern regarding passing places is whether Packman Lane and Common Road will be closed for their installation, especially those intended for gateways to our fields and if so for how long, as the construction will involve significant road works.
A great deal of discussion has taken place regarding data collection, its analysis and consequent assumptions and assertions. Indeed, the 140-page AECOM Review contains a great deal of data regarding the type and number of vehicles required to build and service the proposed well. I would like to consider a few aspects of this data.
In considering Table 2 Page 6 of the Review, which provides daily average traffic movements over the life of the well application, the averages for stage 1 have been calculated for a 6 and 7 day working week, whereas the application states that work will occur on 5.5 days per week. This means that the daily averages for ‘all vehicles’ will be 34, not 31.5, while for HGV’s it will also be 34 and not 31. Other data in the table can similarly be recalculated.
The raw data in Appendix A Construction Traffic Flows, does not include information on escort and similar vehicles. Thus, if HGV’s and abnormal loads are to be escorted singly or in convoy by 2 or 3 escort vehicles, how many additional daily vehicle movements will there be for escort vehicles alone? On Day 1 Week 1 there are 12 HGV’s. If they are arriving singly and require two escort vehicles, the number of movements has (obviously) already increased by 24. On Thursday of week one there are 46 HGV movements (plus 92 escort vehicles?) and so on and so forth.
Averaging vehicle movement may be one way of analysing data but there will be peaks and troughs in both site and background traffic, but this has not been presented.
The data from the traffic monitoring equipment erected in December 2016/January 2017 and in October 2017 (‘background data’) has already been criticised for not being representative of the different seasons. Data collection took place for a relatively short period of time on both these occasions and during Winter and Autumn months respectively. There would have been ample opportunity during 2017 for two further data collection points during Spring and Summer which would have given a more complete picture of traffic movement, particularly as agricultural activities, cycling, walking, horse riding and golfing tend to take place in better weather. Inclusion of this data i.e. higher levels of background traffic, would highlight the increased potential for conflict with site traffic.
The sites chosen for the traffic monitoring equipment on Packman Lane could not capture the journeys (possibly an additional 500 for both Loscar and Honeysykes farms) which we make between our individual farms and the adjacent fields (section 3.5 to 3.7 above) as they were outside that zone.
Much of the analysis has focused upon through traffic, including delay times. At Loscar and Honeysykes the enhanced traffic plan puts us in the centre of a STOP/GO controlled area, which appears to deny the 13 individuals living there, access to/from the properties numerous times per day. Depending upon which figures are used, this means that on average our movements to and from our property and businesses would be impacted/controlled for 31 or 34 times per day (AECOM’s and my figures respectively) and at peak times possibly up to 70 times per day.
No matter how many passing places are installed, they would not ameliorate the disadvantages we face by this proposal.
The wider area
The proposals would also impact on other residents and businesses on the route and to illustrate this point, I would like to draw your attention to page 20 section 6.2 of the original planning statement which states that ‘there are less than 5 residential dwellings from the A619 to the site’.
Considering the schematic diagram in Appendix 1, my calculation is as follows:
- 4 residential properties at the junction of the A619 which back onto Bondhay Lane and have vehicular access at the rear. The land near to where one of the planned waiting areas is located, belongs to these properties;
- Wood Nook Farm on Bondhay Lane;
- 4 residential properties at Bondhay Complex;
- Bondhay Cottages
- Loscar and Honeysykes (5)
- Grange Farm on Harthill Field Road as they use Bondhay Lane for some of their operations.
A total of 16 residential properties, all with associated vehicles
Further, it is important to note that it is not only the built environment that needs to be taken into consideration.
- On Packman Lane, in addition to Loscar and Honeysykes, there are two other farming businesses (without farm buildings) requiring access to their fields, plus two non-agricultural businesses.
- Between the A619/Bondhay Lane and the Packman Lane/Common Road/Harthill Field Road ‘triangle’ there are 9 agricultural businesses (i.e. including those on Packman Lane), comprising hundreds of acres of land. (marked A to I on the map)
- Many entrances to their fields are ungated – to the unaccustomed eye some entrances may appear to be simply gaps in the hedge when in fact they are regularly used by the farmers. (Green stars on the map denote all entrances including those to fields)
- Two other landowners also use Packman Lane and Bondhay Lane to travel between their farms and fields at either end of the proposed route.
- Additionally, there are four businesses at the Bondhay complex, including the golf club which has a large patronage (On Google maps, there are approximately 90 vehicles parked in the car park on the day the aerial photograph was taken).
- There are also three pony paddocks, one at Honeysykes, one on Common Road and another on Harthill Field Road.
- Loscar Wood on Packman Lane is a managed wood requiring access at the junction with Common Road. A passing place is proposed in the entrance to the wood.
Vulnerable Road Users
7.1 The important concerns around vulnerable road users is being dealt with elsewhere but from personal experience I will add that these users are evident in the area all year round, particularly during good weather conditions. Packman Lane is a favoured route for cycling clubs, who travel in large fast-moving groups on road cycles, but also those like myself who travel at a much more sedate pace on mountain bikes and hybrids. I and my neighbours regularly walk our dogs and one neighbour exercises her horse with her family, as do many other horse riders in the area. An increase in the volume of vehicles of all sizes would have an adverse effect on the use of the road by this group of people.
When I first read the planning application in its entirety, I was very concerned for several reasons, not least the safety of road users and access issues and in that regard, I have shown, in a mindful way, where the plans are inadequately mitigated with evidence that is plainly wrong.
However, where the proposed Traffic Management Plans are concerned, to have access to my home, business, secondary occupations, wider family and friendship contacts and all normal daily activities curtailed in this way, including walking and cycling and for months if not years on end, strikes at the very heart of what I hold dear. This is, I believe, contrary to our right to peacefully enjoy our own property.
I respectfully request, therefore, that my concerns are considered when a decision is made on this application.
Andy Tickle, CPRE
My name is Andy Tickle, a member of the paid staff of CPRE South Yorkshire. I hold a BSc (Hons) in Botany and a PhD in applied plant ecology and have worked in the environment and countryside sector for 30 years as a campaigner, consultant and academic. I have worked for the Campaign to Protect Rural England (South Yorkshire) since 2002, variously as Senior Campaigner, Head of Planning and latterly as Director. I specialise in mineral and energy planning and allied landscape matters.
We objected to the application RB2017/0805 (electronic response via RMBC planning portal, July 2017) and provided further comments on ecological matters (letter to RMBC, 2 November 2017). We trust these representations are in the Inspector’s file and that they are taken as read, as they are not repeated here.
Process and potential prejudice – late submission of new proposed TMP
On 10 April, Turleys (for INEOS), circulated a document by AECOM which contained the so-called ‘enhanced traffic management plan’. This was sent to a number of parties, notably the third parties that attended the pre-inquiry meeting, including ourselves. Mr Bell’s covering email states the report ‘contains no new proposals; simply a refinement of the traffic mitigation measures that had already been proposed by Curtins, namely, the introduction of more formal and permanent passing places… etc.’.
We beg to differ – this is a new and different proposal as RMBC’s Urgent Item Report to the Planning Board of 19 April makes clear. The previous TMPs proposed 6 then 7 formal passing places. The ‘enhanced’ TMP increases the number to 23 (and changes their form) and adds temporary traffic control measures at two locations. These changes, in our view, and if accepted, materially alter the nature of the application and its local impact, potentially permanently (see below).
However, unlike RMBC’s position as of 17 April (email from Anthony Lowe, RMBC, to various parties), we do object to its consideration as, according to PINS Procedural Guide (2016), ‘the appeal process should not be used to evolve a scheme and it is important that what is considered by the Inspector is essentially what was considered by the local planning authority, and on which interested people’s views were sought’ (PINS, 2016, p.76; paragraph M.2.1; our emphasis added).
The latter point leads to a second concern: the very late process of consultation by either the appellant or RMBC. This appears to us to have been both too short and incomplete to allow for properly seeking interested people’s views, and in particular non-statutory parties. It seems to us that this cuts across the Wheatcroft Principles, given that those that should have been consulted have not had the opportunity to comment (to paraphrase para. M.2.2 of the Procedural Guide).
In the alternative (that Wheatcroft is not invoked), we still say that the late submission of new proposals has caused prejudice and is, at best, unhelpful to third parties and also to the Council. If the enhanced TMP was produced in a timely fashion, and considered by the Planning Board in January, many more options would have been available to those opposing the development, including the Council. It is common, when officers recommend approval and a planning board refuses, to then employ consultants to mount the most robust defence of their case at appeal. It seems to us that such an option was severely constrained by INEOS’ late changes. Furthermore, the same compression of time largely removes third party options to seek expert advice to make their case properly or even to consider becoming a rule 6 party to advance fuller arguments, should the Council have withdrawn their objection.
The role of gas/climate change
In his proof, at para. 2.8, Mr Pickering states we do not recognise that exploration is a necessary precursor to extraction. This misunderstands our position and the point we originally made, which was two-fold. Firstly, in relation to CS policy 26, part 3c, our judgment of the planning balance was that local impacts outweighed limited national benefits. Secondly, claims of the wider, supposed benefits of extraction should be afforded little weight as the current application was only for exploration. And if they were given weight, then consideration should also be afforded to the disbenefits of extraction, including impacts on climate change.
We may have common ground in that in Mr Pickering’s para. 2.14 he states that ‘the application can only be judged on the direct effects of the proposal’. We would broadly agree and would say some impacts are either too uncertain (ecology) or significant (green belt and traffic) and/or cannot be mitigated suitably for the development to be allowed.
Visual impact and Green Belt
We note the evidence of Mr Sheppard and Mr Macrae in respect of green belt and are aware of the legal cases they cite (Europa Oil & Gas; SSOB v. NYCC).
We agree with the Council that openness will be affected. But we go further and say that the rig and the associated site infrastructure (including hard standings, bunds, cabins) will urbanise and encroach on the area’s open character over a period of up to five years, which although temporary, is substantial enough to cause significant harm, would not preserve openness and is therefore inappropriate. In our view, there are no very special circumstances that outweigh the impact on the green belt, so we say the proposed development is contrary to Policy CS4, emerging policy SP2 and national policy.
We have examined the proof of Ms Olds, particularly section 3 (‘Other objections raised’), where she says addresses ‘other issues raised by third party objectors’. In relation to the issues we raised, this does not appear to be the case.
Our main concerns, raised in our supplementary comments of 2 November, were in respect of failure to obtain data from the South Yorkshire Bat Group (not adjacent biological record centres); and lack of seasonal surveys (the minimum for low suitability habitat as described in Collins (2016) – the standard, best practice guide, cited by all parties). These points are not addressed by Ms Olds and we therefore concur with Mr Godfrey for the Council that the bat survey remains inadequate and, taken with other ecological concerns, means that the impacts of the development cannot be properly assessed and weighed.
Absence of data does not imply absence of impact nor would we agree that generalised mitigation, even if characterised as sufficient for any scenario, is an acceptable default. Local councils, as decision makers, are fully entitled to have sufficient data provided so they can make a properly informed judgment as to potential impact on biodiversity features, especially statutorily protected species such as bats. It is a necessary first step and it has still not been met. As a result Policy CS 20, emerging Policy SP 36 and para.118 of the NPPF cannot operate.
Traffic – new TMP proposal
We did not previously comment in detail on traffic related to the development but raised a general concern on its impact on local quiet lanes. We now wish to comment further on the ‘enhanced’ traffic management plan (TMP), now that it is accepted by the Inspector as a revision to the application (noting that we argue otherwise above).
The ‘enhanced’ TMP does not resolve our concerns about impacts on local quiet lanes and their users, particularly pedestrians (including dog walkers), cyclists and horse riders, including those emerging from rights of way that give directly onto the route. Our view is that although there may be some benefits over the previous TMPs, the ‘enhanced’ TMP will reduce the amenity and enjoyment of such vulnerable users to an unacceptable degree (probably to the point of excluding them).
In addition, we do not regard the permanent formalisation of the passing places as betterment or any form of planning benefit or gain, especially if they were to be tarmacked. Rather, we see it as unnecessary urbanisation of the lanes’ rural character, which would be detrimental, unnecessary and possibly counter-productive in the long term (encouraging post-development traffic to increase speed, in the knowledge that additional refuge can be sought by other users).
Marnie Harvard, Harthill
My name is Marnie and I am a childminder in Harthill, where I have lived and worked for the last 7 years with my children. I moved here to live the good life, just like the sitcom which from looking around im afraid most of you are old enough to remember,
I’ve felt very privileged to live in such a lovely place, with lovely neighbours, the green spaces park ponds, Kiveton pit, low traffic, family connections and community, which I feel very much a part of. I would like to say I’m in complete agreement with all that has been said (by HAF) with regard to traffic, ecology, water supply and wildlife.
The coal and mining authority has said just drilling in the area is not safe due to many decades of old mine workings below our homes, many of which have already suffered subsidence in this village alone, I personally live on the coal shelf, 2 streets in from the ponds, meaning my street is more vulnerable to potential damage. A friend with a very good knowledge of Harthill and Kiveton, and from his original mining experience in South Yorkshire, understands that the “Great Yorkshire Fault”, runs at the back of the bungalows on right hand side of Peregrine Way and the adjacent field boundary (when viewed from its junction with Carver Close). This fault deformation is visible at the surface. Peregrine Way is just a few metres from my children’s home and school.
Ineos has never carried out this process anywhere and its safety records and fines for breaches of its own records prove it is not to be trusted. We don’t want to be Ineos’ guinea pigs.
Recently in the media I saw we need to provide our own gas especially with the Russian situation at the moment, but the facts are Russia only supply 1% and it is openly said by INEOS that they want to extract ethane for the petrochemical industry – nothing to do with the likes of me and my neighbours keeping warm or reducing our costs.
Companies that hurt and affect our climate should be highly taxed for producing such damaging items that we are so aware of now, not giving Ineos a free pass to carve up our communities and countryside for this purpose, Along with tax breaks and subsidies.
I have a very good friend in the village, and her husband who is also a good friend and now in his mid 70’s. He has worked in the mining, gas and oil industry all his working life. We have discussed that the fracked gas, if any, will be used as a main feedstock for manufacturing plastics.
One of Ineos’ biggest problems after drilling and fracking will be where to dispose of its toxic waste.
When Ineos came to present in our village they stated that waste would be treated and then released into the sea, But even at this stage, no firm arrangements seem to have been made for this disposal.
Many of us felt like we were being invaded when seismic survey testers arrived. The area was taken over with the noise, inconvenience of road hold ups by a large male workforce that not only dominated ours and others villages, all the flatbed trucks filling up the local supermarket car parks, parked on every corner over hanging into roads leaving the village, it seemed we couldn’t go anywhere without having to be reminded what was upon us. Especially for the retired and those of us who work and live in the village,
Our local infrastructure is not suitable for this type of industrialisation coming to our area, after all its not just us and the long term plan will be one every few miles, the traffic everywhere will be horrendous. Especially as large numbers of houses are about to be built in Killamarsh and Clowne over the next few years . How will the infrastructure cope beyond the already ridiculous TMP and massive traffic and population growth not to mention the 28,000 members of Bohnday that use that turning on the main road, It won’t.
Industrialisation of the area will change the area in the long run. I know I grew up next to Dagenham.
It’s why I love living here, and my parents planned to move here in the future when they get older and would need my support. Of course we must expect change and growth, but is this worth the cost, with all what we know from pollution and climate change? What devastation will be left for our children’s home and future generations, if Ineos have their way. This beautiful area surrounded by green belt, that we all know and love, will be lost along with the proud heritage that many have here.
Ineos has made such a mess all over the place with many fines, only last week a pipeline in Pennsylvania was closed down due to it being a danger to property and life, but they tell us its all going to be fine in the UK we have gold standards. Personally I don’t feel that they are worth the paper they’re written on, when you look at our current governments record of making polices to keep us safe, are we in our village seen as soft targets perhaps.
This government has no care for keeping us safe – it’s all about money and Ineos, like many others, have been lobbying in parliament for the past few years buying itself our communities. Our own MP, when first talking to us about this, said he’d met with Ineos in Parliament. Why?
So I end my words of concern not by objecting to the exploratory well but I simply object to the stupidity of this whole project, because even if Mr Ratcliffe doesn’t get his way to turn the UK into the biggest gasfields of Europe as he was quoted saying, he will still be a billionaire,
We simply want to live in a clean and safe environment as our everyday human right, I thank you for giving me the time to speak, sadly I fear this is nothing more than a pantomime.