Regulation

Breaking: Planning inspector approves Ineos shale gas plans for Harthill

Common Road Harthill Paul Rowland

Common Road, Harthill. Photo: Paul Rowlands

Ineos has received planning permission to explore for shale gas at a site in the village of Harthill in South Yorkshire.

In a decision published today by the planning inspectorate,  the company’s appeal has been allowed.

This follows at seven-day public inquiry in April and May.

Rotherham Borough Council had voted unanimously in January to oppose the application after Ineos announced it was appealing over non-determination.

The site at Common Road, Harthill, had been opposed by the local MP, Sir Kevin Barron, residents and the community group, Harthill Against Fracking.

Sir Kevin said today:

“Very disappointed that Ineos have been granted planning permission for fracking in Harthill. I will continue to fight this decision as I still believe there are too many unanswered questions around fracking.”

DrillOrDrop is compiling further reaction to the announcement here.

The application is for a vertical shale gas exploration well, new access track, listening well operations and retention of the site for five years.

The inspector, Stephen Roscoe, concluded:

“I have found that the development could have a negative, but not significant, impact on features of biodiversity value for the period of the development.

“I have also found that the development would detract from, and be harmful to, the landscape and visual character of the surrounding area.

“These matters would not however outweigh the benefits from the investigation proposed in terms of future energy supplies, to which I give great weight.”

He also defended the council’s technical officers against accusations that they had not acted to protect the local environment. He said they had:

“acted appropriately and responsibly in first rejecting and then accepting revised draft proposals in relation to traffic management for the appeal site access. I therefore have no doubt that this approach would continue. “

180425 Harthill 4 DoD

Inquiry inspector, Stephen Roscoe

Traffic concerns

Mr Roscoe rejected concerns raised at the inquiry about the impact of site deliveries on narrow rural roads, pedestrians and vulnnerable road users.

He said

“I do not consider that the proposal would be likely to have an unacceptable adverse effect on the use of these lanes by other vehicles.”

He added:

“I consider that there would be some inconveniences to pedestrian users together with some loss of amenity. This would not however be unacceptable in terms of highway safety and amenity.

“I am satisfied that there would be no residual, cumulative and severe impacts from the proposal that would make it unacceptable on transport grounds.

“I therefore conclude that the proposal would not necessarily have an
unacceptable impact on the existing uses of the highways in the surrounding area. I further conclude that it thus would not conflict with the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework].”

The inspector added that convoys of eight vehicles proposed by Ineos would have an escort vehicle to look out for, and advise, pedestrians and others of oncoming vehicles.

Packman Lane Harthill Paul Rowland3

The proposed traffic route to Ineos’ Harthill site. Photo: Harthill Against Fracking

Wildlife

The inquiry also considered the impact of the shale gas site on local wildlife and the Green Belt. Residents had raised concerns about the effect of noise and lighting on a range of species including bats, badgers and corn buntings.

Mr Roscoe said:

“I accept that the development could have a negative, but not significant, impact on features of biodiversity value for the period of the development.

“I am however satisfied that impact has been, and would be, minimised through the design, layout, construction and operation of the development and by the incorporation of suitable mitigation measures.

“These would avoid a residual adverse impact on biodiversity and maintain ‘no net loss’.

“I am also satisfied that the development would not be likely to, directly or indirectly, result in the loss or deterioration of sites, habitat or features that are considered to be irreplaceable due to their age, status, connectivity, rarity or continued presence.

On noise concerns, the inspector said:

“I am satisfied that the limited duration of construction and decommissioning noise, together with the more constant nature of noise associated with drilling would not have a significant effect on protected species.”

180425 Harthill 2 Paul Rowland

Wild deer in fields towards Crow Wood, just off Common Road, near the proposed INEOS site. Photo: Paul Rowland

Landscape

Mr Roscoe said:

“I  consider that the development would detract from, and be harmful to, the landscape and visual character of the surrounding area.”

He said this would conflict with a local planning policy. But he added:

“This harm or conflict would not however be sufficient reason to dismiss the appeal when balanced against the benefits of the development in terms of potential future energy supplies.”

Other issues

The inspector dismissed concerns about other neighbouring shale gas sites at Woodsetts and Marsh Lane, if they were approved. He also said fears about structural damage to homes were not a planning consideration.

On conditions, Mr Roscoe amended some wording to ensure they were precise and enforceable. He siad:

“It would be necessary that the development should be undertaken in accordance with the approved plans and duration for the avoidance of doubt and in the interests of proper planning.”

Links

DrillOrDrop report on reaction to the decision

Ineos Harthill Appeal decision document


Updated to correct typo in quote by Sir Kevin Barron. “answered questions” should have read “unanswered questions”

13 replies »

  1. I guess Sir Kevin really needs to read the detail – Ineos have been given permission to drill a core well, not to frack. The planning application clearly states this as did Ineos, i believe, during the inquiry.

    • Astonishing blinkered rejection of local authority and the local public to be burdened with this fracking debacle.

      Mr Roscoe rejected concerns raised at the inquiry about the impact of site deliveries on narrow rural roads, pedestrians and vulnnerable road users.

      He said

      “I do not consider that the proposal would be likely to have an unacceptable adverse effect on the use of these lanes by other vehicles.”

      He added:

      “I consider that there would be some inconveniences to pedestrian users together with some loss of amenity. This would not however be unacceptable in terms of highway safety and amenity.

      “I am satisfied that there would be no residual, cumulative and severe impacts from the proposal that would make it unacceptable on transport grounds.

      “I therefore conclude that the proposal would not necessarily have an
      unacceptable impact on the existing uses of the highways in the surrounding area. I further conclude that it thus would not conflict with the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework].”

      Is Drill or Drop suddenly redeemed in such anti anti screams of being a campaign forum now?

      Dear me, i don’t know who the Inquiry inspector, Stephen Roscoe has been listening to, but its not anyone who actually lives there, apparently they and eventually we, don’t matter in the slightest.

      • We see the same avoidance terms used in Stephen Roscoe’s text,

        Such terms as “no unacceptable adverse effect” and “some inconveniences to pedestrian users together with some loss of amenity” and “This would not however be unacceptable in terms of highway safety and amenity” and ” conclude that the proposal would not necessarily have an unacceptable impact on the existing uses of the highways in the surrounding area”.

        All these avoidances have no legal definition and are vague and meaningless because they have no basis for evaluation.

        Such terms as “no unacceptable adverse effect” Unacceptable to whom? Based upon what? Unnacceptable relative to what base line? Adverse to whom? Based upon what definition of adversity?

        “some inconveniences to pedestrian users together with some loss of amenity” Define “some”? define “loss”? loss to whom? Define “amenity”?

        “This would not however be unacceptable in terms of highway safety and amenity” Unacceptable to whom? As defined by whom? Relative to what?

        ” conclude that the proposal would not necessarily have an unacceptable impact on the existing uses of the highways in the surrounding area”. Again unnacceptable to whom? Relative to what? Necessarily to what? To whom? By what definition of necessarily?

        Its all wishy washy gobbledegook isnt it? its all totally meaningless drivel.

        Are we meant to accept this as anything other than the total and utter meaningless drivel that it is?

        Clearly Stephen Roscoe is being manipulated to pass this without any empirical evidence for doing so whatsoever other than the all ready totally discredited claims of future energy supplies which have been denied by his own government.

        This reveals itself by its very wording to be nothing but utterly meaningless drivel and betrayal of local residents and the local authority.

        The mere fact that such weak and vague terminology is used betrays this result to be what it is.

        Desperation.

    • Sir Kevin fully understands. This is the first stage towards fracking in the future – and – the well in question is to be a ‘listening well’ for a fracking operation.

  2. RJ-just a minor detail to a politician! But, get that sort of detail wrong in business and P45 time (rightly so.)

    No wonder most of them afraid of having the responsibility to run the country.

    INEOS turning into the team many like to hate, but they keep on winning!

    What’s the draw for the next round?

  3. Another nail in the coffin for local democracy. I have seen the impact lorry convoys have on rural roads near km8: intimidatory and dangerous, driven too fast, they have an enormous impact. Not wanted, not needed.

  4. I have seen the impact of vehicle convoys on Scottish single track roads when maintenance is required. Works pretty well.

    Now, caravans or horses-totally different matter, should all be banned as no one should be expected to be patient and courteous on the road in this day and age!

  5. Disappointed but not surprised by the opinion of the planning inspector. Modern-day planing in the UK is, I’m afraid, heavily geared towards consent with conditions rather than refusal.
    It is now up to the Secretary Of State to recognise that shale gas is neither needed nor wanted in this country, and to turn down the application – as his predecessor did only weeks ago with the proposed open-cast Highthorn coal mine near Druridge Bay in Northumberland.

    • Load of baloney, Wressle was rejected on pathetic reasons. Common sense will always prevail over myths.

      • ‘Common sense will always prevail over myths’ you are so right GBK; the myth of energy security from shale the biggest of them all!

  6. So the Inspector states:

    “These matters would not however outweigh the benefits from the investigation proposed in terms of future energy supplies, to which I give great weight.”

    His job is not to look at energy security, that myth was bust be Greg Clarke’s departmental report not long ago. I think The inspector has stepped outside his remit of considering the actions of the Council and the nature and robustness of the appeal.

    I would not be surprised at outside interference by this government yet again.

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