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