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. The sad ongoing story of Wressle. This is not a fraccing site, good qty of oil at site, site is off a substantial road network and is far away from any residential area. The use of acid is insignificant but as the antis are not smart enough to understand basic chemistry it keeps cropping up as reason for refusal even though this was dismissed at previous appeal.
    The Council should be wary of refusal this time as Egdon have addressed all issues and if they refuse this time I’d expect Egdon to claim costs. That being said the councilors at this particular council are worse than most, (and that level of competence is already abysmal) their reasons for previous refusals were ridiculous but I still doubt it’ll get passed at local level. It will subsequently get passed at appeal and we can reduce our carbon footprint by using home grown fuel.

    • I recall one councillor stating “there’s a vast amount of information but this doesn’t help, It clouds my mind”
      If ever you needed an example that these decisions are beyond the capability of local councillors, this is it.

  2. Strange. I thought I had read that the Planners had sought and obtained an independent review of the application this time to assist their deliberation, and that review helped to shape their recommendation. Must be my imagination?

    • Martin it still won’t help unfortunately. The councilors that were at previous meetings were some of the worst I’ve ever seen, Wressle would be up and running had it been literally any other council, that shows that these decisions should be taken out of their hands.
      Councils are riddled with corruption and hands in pockets, I’ve had to deal with such issues all my business life. Very easy to abuse your position when have any form of power and there is literally no oversight in this country.

  3. I can’t see why the government doesn’t just overrule the incompetent councillors – lets get on and extract some oil and help reduce our imports

    • This is why Permitted Development is on the table. And taking developments into Nationally Significant Infrastucture. Removes the Councillors from the planning process.

  4. Even many MPs are against Permitted Development, This removes local democracy – councillors are rightly concerned about the water contamination caused by fracking. They are accountable to us – their communities. Fracking companies just need to please their share holders.

    • Democracy also involves having knowledge about subjects and it’s clear that local councillors are not qualified to make these decisions; that’s why the decisions should be taken out of their hands

  5. Wressle has had a number of applications over the years. the professionally qualified planning officers recommending approval but local councillors refusing? Not sure if there is a coflict of interest with certain councillors being alligned with the Unite Union?

    The DOD article which implys incorrectly that this application will incorporate fracking then muddies the waters for those councillors who are members of Unite making a decision, as an extract from UNITE desicions of the policy conference page 50 below instructs members:

    Fracking

    Unite believes that all Unconventional Gas Extraction methods, including
    Underground Coal Gasification (UCG), Deep UCG and Coal Bed Methane
    extraction (CBM) should be included in Unite’s policy opposing Hydraulic
    Fracturing (Fracking) and that the licensing powers for all such operations in
    Scotland should be devolved to Scotland.

    What I find strange is this IS conventional oil production.

    So how can UNITE members as Local Councillors make decisions when the orignisation of which they are members instructs them how to vote???

    Surely being a member of UNITE having declared this is a conflict of interest when voting on this planning decision???

    N Sherwood (Chairman) (Conservative)
    J Evison (Vice Chairman) (Conservative)
    S Bainbridge (Labour) – Member of Unite Union
    J Collinson (Labour) – Member of Unite Union
    J Davison (Conservative)
    I Glover (Conservative)
    M Grant (Labour) – Member of Unite Union
    D Longcake (Conservative)
    D Oldfield (Labour) – Member of Unite Union
    D Wells (Conservative)

    Definition: To be lobbied

    A group of persons who work or conduct a campaign to influence members of a legislature to vote according to the group’s special interest.

    If this was fracking it would attract attention from the anti brigade but Lincolnshire Council doesn’t seem to have any problem with fracking whatsoever or fossil fuels for that matter… Why?

    Lincolnshire Pension Fund has £53,132,645.51 in foreign fracking investments…

    In fact Lincolnshire Pension fund has £108,092,428.57 in fossil fuel investment in total…

    This information has been out a number of months courtesy of Friends of the Earth. Thank You…

    Local Councils have the power to appoint fund managers and instruct diversification from funds they consider not to be in keeping with their mandate…

    Capital stewardship of your
    fund’s assets

    Socially responsible investment covers

    Environmental – e.g. climate change

    I have not seen any Local Council make a statement that they have removed their investment from foreign shale operations?

    So not one penny of the £9,000,000,000 invested in foreign fracking operations by Local Councils has been withdrawn…

    It does beg the final question, are Local Councils in breach of their code of conduct when investing in fossil fuels? Page 5 of the below document…

    https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2016/09/23973.pdf

  6. “JBA Consulting employed by Council to carry out a robust review of the new application and its potential environmental impacts”.

    Yes, GBK, it probably will be ignored by some. However, why is it not included within the DOD report? It featured quite obviously within the Egdon RNS.

  7. At present our “Green Technologies” are far too expensive and decades away. Scunthorpe has food bank ( funnily enough just over the road from the NLC Offices) it serves over 3000+ Families and individuals. How can a Council refuse income from such a project. If councils are there to “work in the best interests of the people” then they should be grabbing everything they can for the people. Not sitting in comfortable jobs like mini king Herods waiting for a council pension.

    It also highlights the fact, families having to use a food bank are not in a financial position to buy a Hybrid or Electric car. Some of them can’t even afford the electricity or GAS to cook the food they get in handouts. Such is the state this country is in.

    The really annoying thing is “We’ve had it sooo good”. This is the hypocrisy of the golden generation of aging hippy types who have jumped on the “Green save the planet bandwaggon”, as hey settle in to their twighlight years. They now seem to want to go to their graves shouting I did my bit to save the planet.

    Their attitude now smells of sorry kids and grandkids I had a great life, benefits and facilities from hydrocarbons, now you have to pick up the pieces and go without oil and gas, in an ever expensive world.

    Wressle contains approx 15 years worth of oil and gas, put it to good use until the unfortunate can catch up wih the fortunate and go greener.

    Because lets face it, without conventional oil and gas production, you’re opening the gate for REAL fracking which no one wants.

  8. The Planning Officer was clear in his report where he stated “it is considered that this new application addresses the concerns raised at the public inquiry and that, as a result of the additional ground investigation, site reconfiguration and improved pollution mitigation and water monitoring arrangements, the reasons given by the Inspector for dismissing the previous appeals have been overcome. This conclusion is confirmed by the external technical experts (JBA Consulting) employed by the Council to carry out a robust review of the new application and its potential environmental impacts”.

  9. I agree Terri, I think everyone knows thoroughly, Egdon didn’t do things right in the first place. It was great to see protestors with a vast array of knowledge put Egdon right and in it’s place.

    But also fair play to Egdon too, who took it on the chin and have now done all that was required to make things right. If anything stops this project now, its SPITE not SENSE.

  10. If anything stops this its spite not sense? can you explain what you mean Alan. I would have thought it would be sense to keep the oil in the ground to try to do our bit to stay alive?

    • Our bit to stay alive? China produces 80% of their electricity requirements using coal fired power stations. Do you really think stopping Wressle, or any other UK onshore oil and gas project for that matter, is going to achieve anything apart from help to damage the British economy?
      Why don’t these protestors have a go at the real world polluters rather than trying to make the British public feel guilty all the time?

      • But Terri, then we can buy lots of cheap Chinese product, putting more UK industry out of business, and the ships to bring all this stuff to the UK can be built in Shanghai!! And with UK industry gone taking their tax output with them, then the rich can pay more tax! But, the rich decide to stay rich and they simply move elsewhere. So, those not rich, pay more tax-if they have a job left.

        Hmm.

        • Martin n – but of course the CO2 footprint of goods made in China and imported to the UK is ours and not China’s. Essentially, we might as well be burning the coal in the UK as China burning it to make out cheap goods. On the other hand, we could produce gas in the UK and make goods here using that energy, which would cut GHG emissions.

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