Regulation

Breaking: Ineos gets go-ahead for first shale gas exploration in Derbyshire

Marsh Lane village from Bramleymoor Lane 170426 DoD

The village of Marsh Lane from Bramleymoor Lane where Ineos proposes to explore for shale gas. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The first shale gas exploration scheme in Derbyshire has been approved.

In an announcement today, Planning inspector, Elizabeth Hill, gave permission to Ineos Upstream to drill and test for shale gas at Bramleymoor Lane in the village of Marsh Lane. The site could also be used to monitor fracking nearby. Ineos Bramleymoor Lane Appeal Decision (pdf)

The decision follows an eight-day public inquiry in June at which Ineos was opposed by Derbyshire County Council, Eckington Against Fracking and more than 30 members of the public, including the MP, Lee Rowley, and local headteacher.

Ineos Upstream welcomed the decision and hoped it would set a precedent for what the company described as “timely decisions on future applications”.

Eckington Against Fracking and Mr Rowley said the fight to stop fracking at Marsh Lane was not over. Mr Rowley told PeakFM:

“We have to see where there is the potential for us to ask for it to be looked at again. There may be that opportunity, there may not. We have to work this through over the next few days.

“We have all got to pull together. We have to pick up ourselves back up and carry on the fight because fracking can’t happen at Bramleymoor Lane. The community is united in that. What we now have to do is make sure that doesn’t happen.

“Fracking is a long way off. We are going to win the war even if we don’t win every battle.”

This is the second appeal won by Ineos Upstream. In June it was granted permission for shale gas exploration at Common Road, Harthill in South Yorkshire. For both sites, the company had appealed against what it said was unacceptable delays in deciding the applications.

Mrs Hill ruled today that planning permission was granted subject to 37 conditions. She said there would be “slight harm” caused by night-time noise to people living nearby.

But she said this was outweighed by the benefits of exploration from “its potential to improve resources for energy supplies”.

At Bramleymoor Lane, Ineos sought to drill a well to a depth of 2.4km using a 60m rig. The site is about 400m from homes. Ineos also proposed to use the borehole as a listening well for fracking within 500m.

Derbyshire councillors voted in February by 9-1 to oppose the Bramleymoor Lane plans. At the inquiry, the council argued that heavy vehicles visiting the site would have an unacceptable impact on rural roads, the proposal would affect the openness of the green belt and local people would be disturbed by night-time noise.

The inquiry also heard there was no evidence that Ineos had considered sites outside the green belt and that the development was contrary to local planning policy. Parents of children at the local school had said they would remove their children if the scheme went ahead.

But Mrs Hill concluded:

“I have found that there would be slight harm in terms of the living conditions of neighbouring occupiers, in terms of night-time noise, to which I give limited weight.

“However, this would not outweigh the benefits of the exploration in terms of its
potential to improve resources for energy supplies to which I give substantial
weight. On all other matters I consider that the impact is neutral overall. The
conditions following this decision would ensure the development would be
carried out in an acceptable manner.

“Whilst I have found that the proposal would not comply with policy MP1(1) of
the DDMLP [Derby and Derbyshire Draft Minerals Local Plan], it would be in accordance with the other relevant policies of development plan read as a whole, especially the specific policies covering this type of development, MP13 and MP35.

“In any event, the minor harm in this case is outweighed by other material considerations.”

Key issues

Green belt

The inspector said:

“The openness of the Green Belt has to be regarded in the context of its
permanence and the long-term maintenance of its existing condition. In
following the approach to considering minerals development in the Green Belt
in the legal cases of Sam Smith and Europa, I find that there would be no harm
the Green Belt. The proposal would not be inappropriate development in the
Green Belt and it would not be harmful to the openness of the Green Belt and
the purposes of including land within it. As such, it would comply with
paragraph 146 of the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework]”.

Night-time noise

The inspector said:

“I conclude that there would be minor harm from the proposed
development to the living conditions of neighbouring occupiers in terms of
night-time noise, due to the likelihood of complaint. This would be contrary to
policy MP1(1) of the Derby and Derbyshire Minerals Local Plan (DDMLP) which
concerns noise.

But she said it would be possible to control overall noise levels to those set out in minerals planning guidance and she gave “significant weight” to this.

Traffic

The inspector concluded the proposal would have no harmful impact on the safety and convenience of users of the highway network and the proposed access route.

Other issues

On seismicity and old mine workings, Mrs Hill concluded:

“Although the appellant [Ineos] considers that the likelihood of the risk of any seismic effect is low, there are adequate procedures in place to deal with such an
eventuality.

“I also consider that there are sufficient measures to ensure that
the site is properly restored and not abandoned. As such, I do not consider
that the appellant should be required to insure or lodge a bond against such
events.”

She said she could not take into account the effect on house values.

The Environment Agency, Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive would “protect human health“, the inspector said, and there was no evidence that a health impact assessment was needed.

Potential impacts from well design, construction and operation would be “adequately managed by the relevant regulatory bodies”, she added.

On landscape impacts, the inspector said there would be no permanent impact on sensitive wooded slopes and valleys nearby.

She added that air quality would be protected by the environmental permit. She also said the proposal did not breach local or national planning policies on historic environment, ecology, agricultural land or surface water.

On the local economy, the inspector said shale gas drilling at Bramleymoor Lane would “not be detrimental” to the economic strategy of the area and “would provide a small benefit in this respect”

Reaction

Ineos Upstream

Ineos Upstream, also known as Ineos Shale, tweeted this afternoon that it was pleased with the decision. It added:

“It is disappointing that a Planning Inquiry was needed for what is a straight-forward project – leading to an unjustifiable waste of public money. The permission allows for the drilling of a single vertical core well to gain scientific knowledge of what is below the surface – as has been agreed by many Councils many times in the past to support the coal industry in the region.

“Ineos Shale hopes that this case will set a precedent for timely decisions on future applications upon the facts. A fully-fledged shale industry can be a huge boost to the UK, providing jobs, investment and secure energy.”

David Kesteven, chair of Eckington Against Fracking

“I can’t tell you how saddened I am by today’s decision. I’d like to thank all the committee and everyone who comes to the public meetings and all the other anti-fracking groups for all their support. I’m sorry that we couldn’t stop them at this stage.

“But we will stop them. Fracking has no future and they will not drill at Marsh Lane.
Keep the faith. Keep strong. Keep together. Are we beaten? NO FRACKING WAY!!!!”

Lee Rowley MP for North East Derbyshire

180816 Lee Rowley tweet

The local Conservative MP, Lee Rowley, tweeted:

“Extremely disappointed that the Planning Inspector has allowed drilling to go ahead at Bramleymoor Lane. This decision is simply wrong. I know residents will be hugely disappointed and I share that disappointment; will review the detail properly & come back later today.”

Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow energy secretary

“Today’s Planning inspectorate decision for exploratory fracking at Marsh Lane flies in the face of overwhelming national and local opposition to fracking. Many people remain unconvinced that the risks posed by fracking to our natural environment and the purity of our water can be addressed.

“There are also grave concerns that the aggressive championing of fracking at the same time as consistently undermining renewable energy projects shows that this Government is not serious about meeting our Paris Agreement commitments.

“Labour will ban fracking, instead committing to building our renewables sector and sourcing 60% of our energy from clean, green sources by 2030.”

Friends of the Earth

Richard Dyer, Friends of the Earth regional campaign organisers for the East Midlands said:

“This is a bitter disappointment for the local community who have worked so hard to fight this threat, and also Derbyshire County Council who opposed it, but at least local people have had a say.

“The Government’s current outrageous proposals to fast track future shale gas test drills through ‘permitted development’ rules will ride roughshod over local democracy and mean communities will be shut out of participating in decisions like this”

Woodsetts Against Fracking

180816 WAF tweet

The residents’ group, Woodsetts Against Fracking, which is campaigning against Ineos shale gas plans in Woodsetts, South Yorkshire, tweeted:

“Heartbreaking”

UK Onshore Oil and Gas

Charles McAllister, policy officer of the industry organisation UK Onshore Oil and Gas, tweeted: “Great news from NE Derbyshire where 96% of homes are connected to the gas grid. As only 49% of UK gas is produced domestically at present, this will be the first step to reversing a worrying trend of swelling natural gas imports”.

180816 Charles McAllister tweet

In a formal statement, UKOOG’s chief executive, Ken Cronin, said:

“We welcome the decision today by the Planning Inspector to grant Ineos planning permission for an exploration site at Bramleymoor Lane. This follows a successful appeal that saw thorough representation on both sides of the debate. Ultimately, the Inspector has concluded that she has given substantial weight to the potential to improve resources for energy supplies, something we strong agree is a nationally important priority.

“A planning appeal is part of the overall planning process in the UK and it is not unique to onshore oil and gas. UKOOG notes that according to DCLG databases since 2000 57% of refusals for onshore wind were appealed .”

Chris Peace, local Labour candidate

Chris Peace, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for North East Derbyshire said:

“Appalling news that go ahead given for fracking exploratory drilling at Marsh Lane, NE Derbyshire. Our environment & communities playing second fiddle to big business profits & dirty energy sources.”

This post will be updated as reaction comes in

DrillOrDrop page on the Bramleymoor Lane inquiry

Link to Planning Inspectorate decision notice

 

66 replies »

  1. Dorkinian,

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but scientific consensus is that SOME of the current climate change is man made, not all of it. There is a great deal of variance concerning how much is man made and given the huge growth in world population, how much is controllable. Then there is the “minor” element that some of the major contributors to emissions are excluded from being required to control their emissions and others where measurement is totally inaccurate. Bit like your viewpoint on plastic where you seem unaware that 90% of all plastic in the oceans come from Asia and Africa.

    What about imported fracked gas? You seem to have a blind spot for the complete picture. $10 billion is what INEOS have spent to be able to do just that. Wonder who might be the largest player in UK fracked gas and why?

    You seem to also blindly assume that what happens in US will happen in UK. If you Giggle a bit further you will find even the US has modified techniques considerably in recent years. I think you will find what is done in UK will look a bit different to US.

    You can label me what you like, but when you clearly need to add a label it might be better to understand something about the product you are labelling.

  2. Just to help you out Dorkinian, with a practical example.

    I noted with amusement a story about a Leatherback Turtle being washed up on a Cornish beach recently and linked to climate change. Another bubble that needs bursting. It has been happening for centuries and is related to numbers of jellyfish. Some years you can visit Cornwall and see very few, other years the sea is full of them. All to do with movements of the Atlantic currents-again been going on for centuries. The turtles follow their food-surprise, surprise.

    Centuries ago they were observed by local fishermen, now they are washed up dead as the huge increase in pleasure and commercial boating causes more problems with propeller injuries. (Seen it myself, 30 years ago-quite close to where they want to blow up big parts of the Lizard to get the granite blocks to build the Swansea Lagoon!)

    A lot of chaff to get through before you find the grain. Lazy journalists use climate change as a fall back. It is often mistaken. Not always, but often.

    • There you go again Martin.

      Well you’d better tell the signatories of the Paris Agreement that they are wasting their time.

      That’s all world leaders except Trump and 2 others. I expect they will want to hear from you most urgently.

      Let us know how you get on?

  3. They already know they are wasting their time, Dorkinian. That’s why many signed with absolutely no intention of fulfilling their commitments. That’s how most international agreements operate. Sorry to bring you into reality.

    How many countries are anywhere near meeting their agreements regarding Nato contributions? They all meet regularly and have a good old jolly, and restate they will do so, and very little then happens. And ironically, the “reason” often for that? Because the cost of energy has risen and less left for defence!

    The reason Mr. Trump withdrew from Paris? Because in USA if you don’t meet all such “agreements” the legal vultures will sue the pants off you. So, you end up being forced to comply whilst most don’t and employment moves to their countries. Can you see that as a concern in China?

    No, I am not a denier of anything. I am a realist who looks behind the façade and is not lazy in my research. Sometimes the façade is the reality, often it is not. If you don’t think that necessary then avoid the “chlorinated” chicken when you visit the USA. Lot’s of facades created deliberately for other purposes eg. “fracking” at Horse Hill.

    • You can stick to your own beliefs as to why the worlds leaders signed the legally binding Paris Agreement, I find your suppositions bizarre and illogical.

      I’m not interested in debating chickens or NATO on DoD.

  4. What penalties are there for not meeting the Paris Agreement? I find your beliefs quaint but completely divorced from reality, where you propose anything you Giggle on climate change is fact without fake news, whilst other subjects are separate and the fake news clearly demonstrated shouldn’t be debated as it might just suggest there is an equal amount for the subject of climate change! No, too much effort. Much easier to produce labels.

    Keep trying to build the façade, but you will still find others will look behind it.

  5. If there are mass extinctions then the generations that follow seems somewhat ambitious!

    We will disagree on this Dorkinian, but I admire your conviction even whilst I question how you arrived at it. Maybe better not to label those you disagree with as an easy answer but consider how they may have researched the subject? Just perhaps it is not less thoroughly than yourself, maybe it is the other way round?

    I’m sure we will meet again. Enjoy your holiday.

  6. I would suggest any plastics crises will be caused by excessive demand and poor disposal, with or without fracking.

    If we could start with controlling some activists who targeted Supermarkets threatening to contaminate products because they were not what they preferred, or others not activists who did the same simply for economic gain, we would not need all our food wrapped in plastic for security but still visible to purchase. ( Yes, I used to deal with Supermarkets, so recognise their issue here.)

    Funny how the actions of a few can make life more difficult for the many. Sounds familiar?

  7. Dorkian
    The article heading is as noted, but further down the article INEOS note that this is not the case.

    While the company hopes to get cheaper gas from fracking ( just a hope at present ) in order to make the process competitive, they quit rightly note that UK frack gas is mainly methane, not the higher ends required for plastic production.

    So a uk shale gas boom would not provide the Ethane required, which would still be imported from America, and closer to home from the rump of N.Sea associated oilfield gas and whatever comes from Norway.

    The article header is just to pull us into the story, though it does present a balanced view as you work your way through it.

    What they do not cover is that UK frack gas or no, plastic production will increase across the globe due to the expansion in gas production, especially the newer African and Australian LNG fields. Now they are building the offshore super sized multi billlion dollar LNG plants ( google Shell Australian LNG Largest ship in the world .. to see what is hapenning in order to supply the increased demand for gas … primarily China in order to reduce air pollution it seems )

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