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.
“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.
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.