Harthill villager seeks legal challenge to Ineos shale gas consent

180125 Harthill site visit Paul Rowland 3

Proposed lorry route to the Ineos site at Harthill, 25 January 2018. Photo: Paul Rowland

A resident of the South Yorkshire village of Harthill has taken the first step in an attempt to overturn the planning permission for Ineos’s local shale gas scheme.

Les Barlow is seeking a judicial review of the decision that gave the go-ahead for an exploration site at land off Common Road. Consent was granted last month after a seven-day public inquiry in April and May 2018.

Mr Barlow has submitted documents to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire. The minister has 21 days in which to acknowledge the information and prepare a defence. The papers will then go to a High Court judge, who will decide whether or not to allow the judicial review.

Mr Barlow was among villagers who opposed the Ineos scheme at the public inquiry in Rotherham.

He said:

“This judicial review will not come cheap; this is what it takes to challenge a big company the size of Ineos, with all its resources. The people of Harthill have given generously towards the costs and I am very grateful because I have to do this alone.”

Chris Brookes, another Harthill resident, who is supporting Mr Barlow, said

“It would be a real success if we could prevent Rotherham’s rural greenbelt being desecrated.”

Ineos appealed to the planning inspectorate over what it said was an unacceptable delay in deciding its planning application for a vertical shale gas coring well, access track and listening well operations.

Rotherham Borough Council voted unanimously to oppose the application. It initially argued at the public inquiry against the scheme on traffic and ecological grounds but during the hearing it dropped the ecological objection.

18027 Harthill 6 DoD

Planning inspector, Stephen Roscoe, at the Harthill inquiry. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The report from the government-appointed planning 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.”

Residents had argued that Ineos’s revised traffic management plan, made public by Rotherham Council only days before the start of the inquiry, had disadvantaged them.

Harthill Against Fracking is seeking to raise £10,000 by a crowdfunding website for Mr Barlow’s challenge.

DrillOrDrop has invited Ineos Upstream to comment. This post will be updated with any response.

  • Opponents of onshore oil and gas schemes have fought judicial reviews of permissions granted for Preston New Road in Lancashire, Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire and Balcombe in West Sussex. None of the permissions were overturned. Two community groups in Lincolnshire are waiting to hear whether they can challenge approvals for oil exploration at Biscathorpe and North Kelsey.

7 replies »

  1. The inspector acknowledged that this application would cause harm, but that national policy trumped that harm. Its like a card game where the government always holds a trump card. My dad used to play a game called “Scraggy Aggy”. Whatever card I played, he would play another, then say “Scraggy Aggy I win”. How long did you think it took me to rumble him? Now think what communities right across the North of England feel about the government’s game of “Scraggy Aggy” to their health and the wishes of their communities. It then becomes a longer game of attrition, each side throwing money, time, arguments, media, to gain the upper hand. The numbers against fracking rise massively with proximity to wells, so long term, fracking is dead. Will 2018 be the year the frackers realise that “Scraggy Aggy” no longer works when the people are so determined to say no.

  2. The numbers against housing developments rise massively with proximity to the sites, so long term, new houses are dead????

    Don’t seem to have rumbled much.

    Two thirds of the “people” are still not determined to say no. And that is before they have seen the gas, or the smart new houses-when they say “what was all the fuss about?” Just like it was for the Newbury bypass, where some very “rare” snails ended up with luxury accommodation only subsequently found they were as common as muck. What will the legacy be this time?

    You are correct about the attrition bit-until those being delayed start seeking costs. There will be a time when the companies decide that is the next step and when the Courts will look at the repeated cases and decide that is reasonable. Just like how many arrests before injunctions will be awarded.

  3. These Protests would carry a Lot more weight if they didn,t border on Hypocrisy when the protesters are driving about in gas guzzlers & heating their homes with the very fuels they are fighting to stop.

    • Maybe, just maybe gasman, these protesters of which you speak, are happy to use North Sea and imported gas but not dirty shale? Maybe some use renewable sources or buy from providers like Good Energy? If you have a problem; speak to them and find out rather than tar all with the same PR brush……

    • Bloomberg new energy outlook to 2050

      “Wind and solar are set to surge to almost “50 by 50” – 50% of world generation by 2050 – on the back of precipitous reductions in cost, and the advent of cheaper and cheaper batteries that will enable electricity to be stored and discharged to meet shifts in demand and supply. Coal shrinks to just 11% of global electricity generation by 2050.”

      “Gas use declines dramatically in Europe”

      UK shale. Decades behind the times and no future.

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