Regulation

Planners back Egdon’s Wressle oil production scheme for the third time

Updated Wressle site plan

Proposed site plan of the Wressle site. Source: Egdon Resources planning application to North Lincolnshire Council

Planning officers have for the third time recommended approval of proposals by Egdon Resources for 15 years of oil production at its site at Wressle near Scunthorpe.

The scheme will be discussed at a meeting of North Lincolnshire Council’s planning committee next week (28 November 2018).

At two previous meetings last year, councillors voted against the officers’ advice and refused consent for similar schemes. On both occasions, councillors said there was insufficient information to allay concerns about water contamination.

The inspector at a public inquiry in November 2017 also refused planning permission, dismissing a series of appeals by Egdon. He said the company had failed to demonstrate there would not be unacceptable adverse impacts to groundwater and streams. He was particularly concerned that there had been no ground investigation report and there was no evidence that the liner and stone layer covering the site provided adequate protection.

In an 86-page report, published today, planners said the latest proposal should be approved subject to 21 conditions.

Despite more than 80 objections, the planners said the scheme would not harm residential amenity, highway safety, ecology, archaeology, water resources or flooding. They also said it would contribute to energy security and would help provide a mix of energy sources during the transition to a low carbon economy.

The report concluded

“there are no material adverse impacts of the development that would significantly and demonstrably outweigh benefits”.

The 1.85ha site is between Wressle and Broughton and was originally granted planning permission in 2013. The nearest homes are 530m away and the site is 700m from Broughton Far Wood site of special scientific interest.

Proposal details

1807 Wressle location

Proposed location plan of the Wressle site. Source: Egdon Resources planning application to North Lincolnshire Council

The scheme to be discussed next week proposes to:

  • Install additional security facilities
  • Extend wellsite areas by 0.12ha
  • Reconfigure the site to provide new impermeable membrane, drainage system and surface water interceptor
  • Install bunded area for storage tanks, tanker loading and new road system
  • Install production facilities and equipment
  • Install two new groundwater monitoring boreholes and deepening of three of the existing four boreholes
  • Carry out workover of the borehole
  • Carry out one or more well stimulation operations:
    • Acidisation – described as injecting acid solution 4-6m into the surrounding rocks to improve oil flow
    • Proppant squeeze – described as pumping sand and liquid into surrounding rocks to create fractures
    • Sidetrack drilling with rig up to 40m
  • Produce oil and gas for 15 years
  • Install gas engine to generate electricity and connection to the grid

Is it fracking?

Egdon has said its scheme is for “conventional” oil and gas production and is not a fracking application.

Opponents of the application have said the use of proppant squeeze means the proposal should be considered “unconventional” and a form of fracking.

Planning officers said in their report that proppant squeeze should not be confused with high volume hydraulic fracturing.

Changes to the application

2018 Wressle workover

Cross-section of site during workover of the well. Source: Egdon Resources planning application to North Lincolnshire Council

According to the planning officers’ report, Egdon had provided updated and revised technical reports and drawings.

The council’s advisers, JBA Consulting, concluded that the new documents appear to have addressed the main weaknesses identified by the inquiry inspector. The new application includes:

  • Geotechnical investigation
  • Ground investigation report
  • Civil Structural Design Statement
  • Proposed redesign and reconfiguration of the wellsite
  • Proposed installation of new impermeable membrane and additional protection layers
  • Tests on suitability of the surface aggregate of the site
  • Independent hydrogeological risk assessment by Envireau Water
  • Evidence of a continuous impermeable claystone capping layer above the primary aquifer
  • Risk to local water supplies assessed as low-none.

JBA said it was important that the proposed measures for the site were enforced through planning conditions

Objections

According to the officers’ report, Broughton Town Council had strongly objected to the proposal. There were also 80 letters of objection.

The reasons for objection included:

  • Applicant seeks to mislead by disassociating its proposal, which involves proppant squeeze with acid, from fracking
  • Repeated well stimulation and further wells would be required
  • The use of proposed hydrofluoric acid is hazardous
  • The procedures would not be regulated
  • The proposal does not assess the impact on climate change and would increase dependence on fossil fuels
  • Risk of contamination of surface streams and groundwater
  • Poor quality site containment measures
  • Impact on neighbouring sites of special scientific interest and nature reserves
  • Industrialisation of surrounding countryside
  • Noise would destroy tranquillity of the area and adversely affect health and wellbeing
  • Air and light pollution
  • Significant increase in traffic
  • Potential for seismic activity because the site is on a prominent fault
  • Little or no economic benefit to the local area
  • Risk of the company not being able to restore the site

The planners said there was no objection or no response from the council’s highways, environment, environmental health, public rights of way and archaeology teams. Natural England had said it was satisfied that the proposal would not have a significant impact on Broughton Far Wood SSSI if the proposed flare input was below 20MW. Appleby Parish Council said it had insuffient technical knowledge to comment

Support

The planners said they had received 14 letters in support of the application. The reasons included:

  • Proposal would provide “huge employment benefits and tax revenues”
  • All issues raised by inspector at previous inquiry have been addressed
  • With Brexit, the UK needs to become self-sufficient

What the planners said on key issues

nlc-170111-1

North Lincolnshire Council offices, Scunthorpe. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Principle: The proposal complies with development plan policy and is acceptable in principle.

Landscape: Impacts from the drill rig and lighting would be temporary and were described as “negligible significance”.

Hydrology/hydrogeology: “It is considered that the risks of an adverse impact upon groundwater is very low and that there would be appropriate measures in place to ensure the protection of ground and surface water and nearby watercourses.”

Ecology: “The proposed development is unlikely to have any adverse impact on protected or notable species or habitats.”

Heritage: The risk of adverse impacts on local heritage is “very low”.

Air quality: Very low risk of adverse impact on air quality for local residents or sensitive habitats.

Noise: Proposed mitigation will “adequately protect the amenity of neighbouring residential properties”.

Highways: “It is considered that that the impacts of the vehicle movements associated with the proposed development are limited in their duration and extent”.

Lighting: Very low risk of adverse impact from external and artificial lighting and impacts would be controlled by suggested conditions.

Waste: “the proposed development poses no unacceptable risk with regard to the production, storage and/or disposal of waste”.

Seismicity: The inquiry inspector concluded that there was not an unacceptable risk of harm and nothing has changed.

Climate change: Fossil fuels have a role to play in providing for UK energy needs during transition to a low carbon economy.

Community involvement: Egdon had not submitted a statement of community involvement with the application. But the company was proposing to form a community liaison group, should permission be granted.

Proposed conditions

The officers proposed 21 conditions. These included:

  • Work must begin within three years of the date of permission
  • Work must comply with a traffic management plan
  • Oils, fuels, lubricants and other liquids should be located on an impervious base and/or within an impervious bunded area or self-bunding tanks
  • No ground or surface water contaminated with oil, grease or other pollutants should be discharged into any ditch or watercourse
  • Assembly and demobilisation of the drilling rig and site construction work should be limited to 7am-7pm, Monday-Saturday
  • Limits on noise produced by the site
  • Requirements for lighting and dust management plans
  • Load-bearing test before the start of development

Committee meeting

The planning committee is due to meet at 2pm, on Wednesday 28 November 2018, at the Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ashby Road, Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire DN16 1AB.

DrillOrDrop will be reporting live from the meeting.

Timeline

18 June 2013

Planning permission first granted for a sell siteWressle drilling 2014 Egdon

19 July 2014

Wressle well spudded

4 September 2015

Egdon announces suspension of testing operations

20 June 2016

Planners validate new application for site retention and 15 years of oil production

3 January 2017

Planners recommend approval ion of the site and long-term production of oil

11 January 2017

Councillors vote by 6-3 against proposals Details

4 May 2017

Egdon re-submits previously-refused application

23 June 2017

Planners recommend approval Details

3 July 2017

Councillors vote by 10-7 against Details

4 January 2018

Planning inspector dismisses Egdon’s appeals against refusals of planning permission for oil production and company instructed to restore the site by 28 April 2018 Details

11 July 2018

Third application for oil production at Wressle validated. Link to application

28 July 2018

Planners recommend approval of extension of planning permission Details

1 August 2018

Councillors vote unanimously against extension of planning permission Details

22 November 2018

Planners recommend approval of third application for long-term oil production

28 November 2018

Planning committee meeting to consider third application

 

 

24 replies »

  1. People will be cutting their noses off to spite their face. Conventional oil and gas is needed in this failing economy. How can people think its sense to BUY oil and gas from abroad which is nowhere near green, when we have it under our own feet. The same people who use oil and gas that could be potentially fracked from underneath someone elses community in Europe? Its still hypocrisy !

    This is also part and parcel of why WE INVADE other countries and cause so much mayhem and carnage, including filling our streets with crippled soldiers living in cardboard boxes. This goes far more down the rabbit hole than a few NIMBY’s who think of the few not the many.

    Sorry to put it bluntly but we are NOT going to save the Earth while China is throwing up coal fired powerstations like confetti. Britain’s footprint is a drop in the Ocean compared to the world. And as for carbon capture, its not a mathmatical equasion on a black board (sorry rediculous PC has to take over… white board) Its called planting more trees.
    Those things that NEED CO2 to survive.

    Not cut them down so some Telecommunications companies can get a better 5G signal and satisfy their shareholders.

    I’m as green as I can be, my car (a dirty Diesel) achieves 72-82 mpg avg because I eco drive. Here’s a fact, if you drive at 60mph you will use a 1/3 less fuel than at 70mph. So ask why the motoring organisations and “Breath easy” aren’t lobbying the UK Government to lower motorway speeds to 60mph and enforce it. Surely a 1/3 less carbon emission would cure a few problems?

    But then the Governement would then lose 1/3 less fuel tax. Its a very viscious circle 2muchtee. Unfortunately 😦

  2. Unfortunately we are not only talking about methane gas here. We are talking about opening up an actual “NORM market”. Turning fresh drinking water into radio active sludge. Its more than what is being talked about.
    Remember what is in the waste product and how are we going to manage it all?
    “The initial analysis of the flowback fluid has shown radium-226 as the radioactive material present at
    the highest levels, between 14 and 90 Becquerel per litre. Other naturally occurring isotopes present
    included potassium-40 and radium-228. In comparison the average values for natural radioactivity in
    soil in western Europe are, potassium-40 – 547 Bq/kg and radium-226 – 40 Bq/kg.”

  3. Yes, Netty. The well at Stockbridge is causing radio active trout, that glow in the dark!

    Actually, no. The R. Test is still crystal clear, one of the cleanest and best fisheries in the world, and much of Hampshire’s water is extracted from the giant chalk sponge that sits around it.

  4. BBC Look North right now. The Government is planning on overruling local councils. And permitting fracking.

    This is what I tried to warn everyone about. You are tarring all drills as fracking sites. Even conventional drills like Wressle, Biscathorpe and West Newton.

    60% of our Gas is imported. We have our own that doesn’t need to be fracked. Work it out folks, stopping our normal wells is going to lead to fracking being allowed ANYWHERE.

  5. AlanJ-you are correct. But, the real problem is that many of these Council Planning Committees consist of many individuals who are out of their depth with any complicated planning application, do not research the subject properly, and are influenced by their own, or influenced, agendas. You only need to observe a few such meetings to observe that is the case.

    The commercial companies are reluctant to recover costs for this situation, as they often need to continue to have a working relationship, so there is little financial penalty against such continuing.

    This applies to many situations, not just oil and gas.

    At some stage this sort of circle has to be broken and I suspect it finally takes a large player behind the scenes telling Government that unless they take action then they will.

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