Regulation

IGas exploration plans are “in the heart of a community”, Ellesmere Port campaigners warn

181210 Ellesmere Port map

Map compiled by Frack Free Ellesmere Port and Upton showing the location of the IGas site and local amenities

People living in two new housing estates in Ellesmere Port have complained that they didn’t know about proposals for gas exploration nearby.

The news emerged as campaigners against IGas plans to test its Ellesmere Port well submitted evidence from expert witnesses to a public inquiry.

IGas is appealing against the refusal in January 2018 of planning permission by Cheshire West and Chester Council.  The inquiry takes place next month.

The site, called Portside, is within 1km of new homes, a children’s play centre and a nature reserve. Just over 1km away is a residential home, schools and tourism attractions.

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton said in a statement this morning:

“The IGas well site in Ellesmere Port could be the UK’s first gas exploration site in the heart of a community.

“Residents of the brand new Persimmon and Anwyl housing estates have expressed anger and grave concerns. They were never warned or consulted over the existence of the well or the proposals for the development.”

One resident, quoted by the campaigners, said:

“No-one told me that we faced living next to a gas field or how it might affect us”.

Another was quoted as saying:

“My family home is only 350m from this well and my builder, solicitor, mortgage company and council didn’t tell me anything about it.”

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton described the IGas proposal this morning as “the wrong time, the wrong place, the wrong industry.”

Residents were concerned about IGas’s intention to use hydrochloric acid to open pathways within the rock for the gas to flow, the group said. They also feared the impact of flaring more than 10 tonnes of untreated gas each day, potentially 24-hours a day for  up to three months.

The group said Ellesmere Port was at a “critical point”, with plans for a major regeneration project underway. It said:

“If IGas is allowed to succeed with its proposals to test for shale gas it will mean two giant steps backward for Ellesmere Port.”

The application was refused because of its potential adverse effects on climate change.

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton said its expert evidence, issued today to the Planning Inspectorate, would cover the risks and contributions to climate change. It would also address geology, risk engineering, air quality, health, sociology, economics, national and international law and planning. The group said it planned to publish its evidence on its website.

Cheshire West and Chester Council and IGas will also be presenting evidence to the inquiry.

IGas has described the target formation as the Pentre Chert and has said it does not propose to frack the well. It said:

“For the avoidance of doubt, our proposals do not involve any additional drilling, the deepening of the existing well or hydraulic fracturing. It only relates to the flow testing of the existing well and associated preparatory works (also known as a “workover”) necessary to prepare the well for test.”

IGas fact sheet

  • The inquiry runs from 15-23 January 2019 (not sitting on Mondays) at the Assembly Room, Chester Town Hall, Northgate Street, Chester CH1 2HJ. It is open to the public.

34 replies »

  1. I thought Solicitors were paid to do a search during conveyancing. That should have told the buyers about developments in the area. Now the value of their homes will be less than the purchase price. It’s criminal that the moneymakers get to ruin the environment and people’s lives at the same time

      • No doubt you’re one of those who doubts the existence of climate change, believes that fracking will generate clean air, thinks that Trump is an ecological genius, can’t understand how anyone thinks it unreasonable that the lifestyle promises made to them were false, believes that business must be allowed to flourish no matter what harm it does to people living near it or its surrounds and probably want your nappy changing. You clearly have no shame as to how you earn your money, I just hope the oil companies are paying you well to bask in the misery of others whilst making a fool of yourself.

        • A fine excoriating takedown Jules – for a deserving recipient. Very few words need altering for it to apply to the other gas-heads around these threads.

          • Phil P

            I am not so sure that Jules is right ….

            1. No doubt … but there is some doubt when applying your thoughts to someone you do not know.
            2. Doubts the existence of climate change …. I have not seen anything posted by Paul to say he doubts it, but do you have to fully believe in it ( ie if you do not fully believe it then you are a heretic … book burning person maybe and so on )? So lots of doubt there.
            3. Fracking will generate clean air. That is a new one I have not seen before, either as a view ( pro frackers believe fracking will create clean air ), or as an accusation. So some doubt about that I think.
            4. Trump is an ecological genius. Who thinks that on this board? I have seen a recent report that there is some instability hanging round the political system as the ‘people’ think the political elite have stolen their future. Hence, In the UK we voted for Brexit, in France they riot and in America they voted for trump.
            So some doubt there that anyone pro fracking thinks that Trumps digestive system has a better handle on global warming than the master of frack ( but not coal ) Obama.
            5. Lifestyle promises are false. Would that be the promise that Ellesmere Port was ( not is ) an industrial town? So lots of doubt about that ( and what is a lifestyle promise, and who made it ..Barrats?)
            6. Business should be allowed to flourish no matter what harm it does? Is that Barrats who are being allowed to,flourish ( should they be building in the middle of an industrial zone ) or the nearby factory making polluting vehicles? So some clarity required there.
            7. No shame how you earn your money. I think Paul is retired. But should all people working at Tesco be ashamed that the store sells hydrocarbons (plus alcohol and nicotine etc). Shame on them all maybe, or maybe not. Same for the chap who services your car

            I think there is no doubt that there is some doubt.

            • Good response Hewes62. It’s unusual to see such reasonableness in debate around here.,,, I’ve got used to the absence of structured argument. It all seems to be about spinning up memes – small circular arguments (of vanishingly small diameter) which get rapidly replaced by others, almost at random.

              But I can assure you that I’ve seen all of those myopic prejudices in these threads from time to time. Sorry I can’t cover all those points, there’s a lot to unpack there. Just one example of someone who thinks/thought shale gas was going to improve our air (besides the recent Judith – evidently) is/was “Let-them-eat-Kale”. He was around for quite a while, previously named ‘Fibonacci’ (a name that of course we immediately shortened to ‘Fibs’). Meanwhile GBK takes the biscuit in most of those areas.

              • Philip P

                Thanks. Up in Newcastle to visit young Hewes. No one here was talking ( or wanted to talk ) about Fracking or Brexit ( their eyes glazed over ), but immigration is a big issue, according to my taxi driver ( complete with turban ) or asylum seekers ( according to the guy in the pub ). I must bone up on the issues.

                But then there is no fossil fuel extraction here any more ( coal does indeed come to Newcastle ) and Brexit is something for Southeners ( according to the guy selling mulled wine in the Xmas market ).

                The only good ( or only bad depending on your view ) discussions re fracking seem to be here on DOD tho as ever there is a wide spectrum of opinion and expression of it, as one would expect.

    • Paula

      I bought a house on a PEDL this May. The searches did not cover fracking or oil and gas development, although the seller was asked if the knew if there was any, just as I was as I sold a house in a PEDL.

      It was advised, in the search documentation, to make my own enquiries.

      Those who bought our old house were appraised ( as they asked ) that it was on the edge of the worked Coalfield, 12m above sea level, within 1 mile of an abandoned oil well, within 6 miles of 50 oil wells, some abandoned and some not, and within 4 miles of a fracked well. The house sold in 2 weeks.

      The purchasers ( in Ellesmere ) are also next to an oil refinery and chemical plant, a point I see which has been covered below. Maybe the PIZ zone needs adding to the map above.

      Re value of house, I think their house value has gone up. But every house buyer should know that prices may go up or down, just as share prices do. They may wish to ponder if help to buy has inflated new house prices, and its withdrawal would lead to a reduction in the value of their house ( something they no doubt factored into the equation ?)

  2. By the way, the same issues apply around PNR where Barratt Homes and Storey Homes have built and sold hundreds of family properties recently with both telling prospective purchasers that as the fracking site is 2 miles away there is no possible risk!

      • Absolutely wrong Paul Tresto. That’s the most irresponsible thing I’ve seen you say. Appears you haven’t even read the official risk assessments on this business.

        • I write (or used to) “official risk assessments” for oil and gas wells / developments. Why not aske Hewes62 his thoughts on risks to housing estates 2 miles away from gas wells? His background is in HSE risks.

          What are the “risks” you are so worried about?

          • Paul

            We’re I to buy a house in the locations shown I would be concerned about

            1. North road ( motorway ) for pollution and noise. It is there 24/7 gas well or not.
            2. A COMAH Site within 2 miles ( complete with flare ).
            3. The urban environment.

            A potential gas well is small beer compared to the surrounding industry and existing pollution sources from the motorway and urban location.

            COMAH information from the nearby refinery.

            https://notifications.hse.gov.uk/COMAH2015/PublicInformation.aspx?piid=945

            No doubt those who bought the new houses were well aware of the varying issues surrounding the site, and if not, one could ask why, given the importance of such a purchase, and the due diligence required.

            That means looking past the sellers info, but I now know that Ellesmere Port ‘was’ an industrial town…but now it seems it is not?

            https://www.persimmonhomes.com/ellesmere-park-10692

            There are a number of benefits to living there as noted, and affordability would seem to be one of them.

      • Only a total fool would contend that fracking poses no risk to those living in its shadow. The truth is it poses huge risks to the whole world – or are you one of those who whines that our increasing temperatures and ever-greater numbers of severe weather events are completely arbitrary and that 90% of the world’s scientists don’t comprehend the data?

        • Jules, the world needs gas to replace coal, increase food production, all forecasts by all reputable organisations predict increasing global gas demand for many years to come, and increasing oil demand albeit for not as long. I am a realist and have a pretty good idea about how the world works having worked in, lived in and visited a lot of it, increasing population, expanding middle classes in India, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, and later, in Africa. Consumerism, human nature… fake targets from some Countries, expansion into Africa with coal power plants….Politics…..

          The world is getting warmer, weather may be becoming more extreme (often the case when we give names to events), stopping fracking in the UK won’t make any difference, stopping fracking globally also won’t make any difference.

          We need to learn to adapt and if possible, halt the global population increase.

          Let’s see what happens in Poland. And in the UK perhaps we will have a General Election shortly, all those who wish for Corbyn because he says he will ban fracking which find a lot more than that to worry about if he gets in.

          • Inventing science in your head. Nice one Paul. Is that how you did risk assessments too? I concede that DoD should have stated whether fracking was involved. From memory they weren’t going as deep as the shale formation at this site (a branch of the Bowland shale stretches down that way I believe), but why wouldn’t they? And if flaring, or any venting, is on the cards then noxious plumes of gas are a very real risk. Airborne contaminants have been one of the most obvious risk factors around gas well operations wherever they are.

            • Inventing science in my head? You lost me Philip P? Where is science mentioned in my post? Are you disputing the forecasts of increasing global gas and oil demand, middle classes and population? Please let us know if some or all of these points are incorrect?

              You are correct however about risk assessments. These originated in the nuclear industry I believe and came to the oil and gas industry in the UK post Piper Alpha when the Government went for third party verification and no longer signed off on anything. I do not like risk assessments. I have seen many in the UK North Sea which have resulted in situations offhore which we would never have tolerated in the times I worked there. It is fairly easy to start with the result you want and work back to the begining…..

    • Wise conveyancing companies are using Ground sure in their searches. A potential house buyer can then notify their money lender and it is then up to the lender to decide. The conveyancing company is also then exempt from future comebacks.

      I suspect it won’t be long before Building Societies and Banks start stopping or reducing mortgage offers on properties near fracking sites.

      https://www.groundsure.com/report/energy/

  3. Kisheny as the post is about new residents my comment was relevant. As for the environment I will offer you the IPCC report for your bedtime reading. Happy to live off grid, we’ll all have to get used to that.

  4. Let’s add another risk to the multitude that already surround these people (and wildlife), right? And did’t that chemicals factory make explosives? Maybe they can spin some profits out of the movie rights.

    • People living in new housing estates complained they didn’t know….. but they must have known about the refinery and nuclear plant before they bought their houses.

      Buncefield was an oil storage depot – or are you referring to a chemicals factory in Ellesmere Port?

      There is no fracking as far as I can see; just a simple well test. No dangers.

  5. The site already has planning permission to produce gas and this has been in place since 2009. The site was constructed in 2011 and drilled in 2014. Not exactly a state secret.

  6. Some of us are old enough to remember huge gas holders sitting outside international cricket grounds and football grounds, with tens of thousands meeting there regularly.

    Perhaps the locals would prefer the car plant closes due to costly energy and they could have that as an extra green space?

    • Martin
      My favourite was the one at St Pancras. Normally the train ( Sheffield to London ) waited 5 minutes to next to it, a sort of welcome to London from BR. That was in the early 70s. A gas holder, railway and houses in close proximity.. heavens.

      • The formation to be tested, the Pentre Chert, underlies the base of the Bowland Shale, which means the well drilled through the Bowland Shale section. As noted by DoD above and referenced in the IGas application there will be NO fracking in this well – yet the Frack Free Ellesmere Port website (link provided in main article) continually refers to fracking…….

        • David

          In point 2.7 of their report against the well ( on their website ) they say that no fracking is planned, but then say that the use of acid makes the well is unconventional which ‘carries the same risks’. Hmmmm. So lots of frack flowback and micro seismicity expected …. OMG with similar concerns re well integrity at PNR?

          The report is a good example of a kitchen sink job, ie what can you throw at the issue, relevant or not, to support the case case that you do not like the idea of an oil and or gas well near you.

          The report does note that the casing will be perforated by ‘ explosives ‘ ( rather than jetting with acid or gnawed away by pet rats maybe ) etc etc.

          But the report does give a comprehensive list of interesting local issues for those thinking of buying a house there, or maybe visiting the Local Tourist attraction, built next to an oil refinery, motorway and where there was once an earthquake in 1992 (. Maybe it’s a white knuckle ride attraction ).

          But back to the subject in hand, frack free has moved from being something about HPHV activity to anti oil and gas. Just as fracking is now any oil and gas activity that fracks something, not primarily HPHV.

          So perforating any well with explosives fracks a bit of rock…..case made?

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