UK firsts for public inquiry into IGas test plans at Ellesmere Port opening today

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Photo: Frack Free Ellesmere Port and Upton

The UK’s first public inquiry on the impact of an onshore gas site on climate change gets underway this morning.

The hearing on proposals by IGas to test for gas in Ellesmere Port is also the first in the UK where the well site is in a town or city.

A government-appointed inspector will hear evidence from Cheshire West and Chester Council, which refused planning permission in January 2018 because the scheme failed to mitigate the effect on climate change.

The inquiry will also hear evidence from the campaign group, Frack Free Ellesmere Port and Upton, which is calling nine expert witnesses. Representatives of IGas will also give evidence.

The hearing, at Chester Town Hall, is expected to last six or seven days.

The Ellesmere Port well is one of several drilled in north west England, where IGas companies said they were exploring for coalbed methane but actually drilled down into the shale layers.

IGas will say it plans to re-enter the Ellesmere Port well to determine whether commercial hydrocarbon production can be established from the Pentre Chert rock formation. This involves a Drill Stem Test, expected to last 14 days, and a 60-day extended well test.

Acid diluted to 15% will be pumped into the well to “re-establish natural flow in the formation”, IGas will say. During both tests, gas from the well will be burned in a flare. The company will say it does not propose to drill, deepen or frack the well.

Frack Free Ellesmere Port and Upton has criticised the application for its potential impact on climate change, public health and the local economy. One of its expert witnesses, Colin Watson, said:

“This application lacks clarity and opens a Pandora’s box of things they can do. The application contradicts itself in many areas and our attempts to seek clarity have failed. Given they have such a track record of ignoring planning permission, I wonder what they will do this time.”

Friends of the Earth will also be speaking at the inquiry. Its North West campaigner Helen Rimmer said:

“Thousands of local residents and the local council have clearly said no to shale gas testing in Cheshire, while climate scientists warn that fossil fuels must be left in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.

“Residents in Ellesmere Port already suffer from poor air – the last thing they need is another polluting industry on their doorstep.

“Instead of forcing dirty fracking on communities, the government should back clean renewable energy which could create thousands of new jobs in Cheshire.”

  • DrillOrDrop will be reporting from the inquiry. You can catch up on the daily reports on our Ellesmere Port inquiry page here

Hearing details

Dates: 15, 16, 17, 18 January 2019 and 22, 23 (and possibly 24) January 2019. The opening session starts at 10am

Location: Assembly Room, Chester Town Hall, Northgate Street, Chester CH1 2HJ

Rally: Campaigners are due to gather outside the inquiry at 9.30am today (15 January 2019)

Parties: IGas (appellant), Cheshire West and Chester Council (defendant), Frack Free Ellesmere Port and Upton (Rule 6 party)

Appeal reference: APP/A0665/W/18/3207952

Site details

Ellesmere Port Wellsite, Portside One, Portside North, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire CH65 2HQ


Inspector: Brian Cook

IGas barrister: Giles Cannock

Cheshire West and Chester Council barrister: Robert Griffiths

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton barrister: Estelle Dehon

IGas expert witnesses: David Adams, plannning; Jonathan Foster, operations; Katrina Hawkins, air quality; Kevin Honour, ecology; Simon Stephenson, Noise

Cheshire West and Chester Council expert witnesses: Dr Paul Balcombe, climate change; Dr John Broderick, climate change; Connor Vallelly, planning

Frack Free Ellesmere Port and Upton expert witnesses: Robin Grayson, geologist; Emeritus Professor David Smyth, geologist; Professor Kevin Anderson, climate change; Colin Watson, site location; Professor Andrew Watterson, air quality; Dr Anna Szolucha, social health; Dr Patrick Saunders, public health; David Plunkett, economic sustainability; Jackie Copley, planning

Key issues

Campaigners to argue that IGas Ellesmere Port gas test is a risk to public health (8/1/2019)

IGas Ellesmere Port well test is “wrong place at the wrong time”, says campaign group (2/1/2019)

IGas plans for Ellesmere Port “don’t conform to UK climate commitments” – inquiry expert (17/12/2018)

IGas exploration plans are “in the heart of a community”, Ellesmere Port campaigners warn (10/12/2018)

69 replies »

  1. But as always Jack you wanted to think that Chris was not able to know what you know, but were unwilling to inform him of!

    Shall we provide the unedited version?,

    The £150 offered was to some, others got more. It was readily trousered, although antis said it would not be. It was an inconvenience payment not a payment reference what might be if and when production starts. And, oh, it was also for each well on the site, currently planned as 4.

    Other situations (non fracking) are currently looking at local payments come production, and 6% of net income has been tabled. Or you could have had a new kitchen for the village hall.

    And, you could look at the USA where the revenue to local communities is established and many are very grateful, and some, quite rich.

    Eye watering? Must be the myopia Jack.

    • OK MARTIN,

      Let’s talk BIG MONEY.

      For less than 5% of the total eligible residents who lived within 1 kilometre of the sacrifice zone, they were offered £2000.


      Now CHRIS600UK consider this ,

      ( 1 ) How much would your home be devalued living in the sacrifice zone ??

      ( 2 ) Would you still be able to obtain buildings insurance for your mortgage and how much would it be ??

      Householders affected by floods face insurance double-whammy if they live near planned fracking sites.

      MARTIN , forgot to mention this .

        • I wonder if the £150 fracking bribe for communities would mitigate for losses like the ones suffered by people in this article:

          Still this minority of pro-frackers would argue this was a minority of people suffering horribly, so that makes it ok? So it’s not “an injury to one, is an injury to us all”?

          Maybe some people readily accept these bribes because they want to milk the frackers for all their worth, whilst they can, before the industry costs them dearly in the future?

          Not to say, that the UK’s “gold standard regulations” would ever allow such “accidents” to ever happen. Interesting that in the U.S. “In 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney spearheaded an amendment to the energy bill, which critics call the Halliburton Loophole. This legislation exempts hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act and protects companies like Halliburton, of which Cheney was once the C.E.O., from disclosing what chemicals are going into the ground.” Why on earth would they need to do that if they didn’t think it would risk contaminating people’s drinking water – very cynical and reckless corruption at the highest levels.

          And why would fracking companies feel the need to provide fracked communities with water buffaloes and legally gag people if they didn’t think they had contaminated their drinking water?

          Has the UK government allowed fracking companies not disclose the exact ingredients in their fracking fluid for fear they may be detected in unwanted places, like they have in the U.S.? Do people in this country think this perfectly fine?

          Accidents can and do happen, and the ability to hold companies to account is essential – maybe people don’t feel very reassured by the industry nor this shambles of a government?

          • Hmm well I was told that PNR used sand & water for fear of any accident, and each well has been pressure tested for integrity

            That’s why they’ve spent such vast sums on this first well.

            • I would like to believe they would continue sustainably in this vein if they ever got fracked gas going at commercial rates in the UK, if what you say is true? I think many would find that hard to believe, except gullible, wishful thinking investors in the Ponzi scheme. Do you believe it’s literally just fresh water and sand, no other toxic chemicals mixed in?

        • CHRIS600UK

          I have found out what I believe to be the exact numbers here .

          It would appear that 10% of households ( 29 ) were offered £2070 living within 1km of the Fracking well.

          When you consider that leading property experts have warned that 30% could be wiped of the value of a home within the 1km fracking zone , it makes the £2070 look like chicken feed .

          The rest , 259 households living 1km – 1.5km were offered £150.

          It is not known how many actually cashed their cheques and in doing so , possibly gave up their rights to future compensation claims against the company.

          • Do you believe it’s literally just fresh water and sand, no other toxic chemicals mixed in
            Yes in this case I do
            And I do believe they are taking special care of this well.
            It will produce commercial gas.
            But that’s not the point.
            This one is the trail blazer, the others will follow.

            • CHRIS600UK

              I’m a little more supicious.

              The last time Cuadrilla were let loose with a liquid substance .

              Trafford , Manchester residents later found out that 2 million gallons of Cuadrillas radioactive wastewater had SECRETLY been transported to United Utilities wastewater treatment plant and dumped untreated in to the Manchester Ship Canal .

              Hardly Gold Standards.


            • CHRIS600UK

              To be fair to Cuadilla , they were allowed to do that . They nipoed
              in and dumped the waste before regulations regarding radioactive waste disposal , imposed by EU came into force .

              BUT as United Utilities wastewater treatment plant was NOT capable to deal with radioactive waste. The 2 million gallons of fluid went through their system unfiltered .

              INCOMPETENCE on either Cuadrilla or United Utilities part, OR BOTH.

              Either way it’s hardly the GOLD STANDARDS that we are constantly told about .

              When this horror story finally came out in the open, long after it had happened. They said the radioactive waste was low level, BUT they would say that wouldn’t they .

              What I don’t like about this seedy event, is that BOTH PARTIES knew the public would be outraged…… So they decided to try and keep it a SECRET .

              This will be of little comfort and raise many questions to people living in that particular area, worried about possible future illnesses related to that event .

  2. This report was from 2014. Nobody locally has trusted Cuadrilla’s version of events since and quite right too!

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