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

181114Ellesmere Port FFEPaU

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 »

    • A lot of people are really frightened by fracking. The fear has nothing to do with the safety issues that surround fracking. The fear comes from scaremongary instigated by the greens who are against the petroleum industry. Very few would be interested in their arguments if production wasn’t in their back yards. However, this is a perfect opportunity for FOE etc to turn people against the petroleum industry by speading lies about the safety of fracking.

      I 100% agree that we need to move towards a low carbon economy ASAP. Just don’t try to kid yourselves that the alternatives that many of the anti fracking community propose either realistic or more environmentally friendly.

      • Oh please! people are not anti petroleum. We love the stuff, we use enough of it.
        But the oil/gas industry has behaved very badly/dishonestly so it can’t be fully trusted.

        Fracking is a brilliant method of gas extraction but not when it goes wrong or operators take shortcuts.
        It’s the consequences of that for their health and that of their children that scares people.
        They also worry about the long term effect on their environment.
        They know that Oil/gas folk don’t give a monkeys once they’ve had their products.
        So you can’t blame people for being scared, there’s plenty of historical examples to do that.

        Then there’s the plain fact that we just don’t need it.
        There’s more than enough gas in far away places friendly to us like Algeria, or Quatar for instance.

        As for carbon emissions well; 565 gigatonnes is the agreed red line, but oil/gas have got enough reserves already to put 3000 gigatonnes into the atmosphere.
        So no, we don’t need more gas fields.
        And yes, we do need alternatives whether we like them or not.

      • Is this ” scarmongary ” Judith ????

        Breast Cancer Action …….. Don’t frack with our health.

        If you are not convinced by the above , please give your reasons why, with supporting evidence and links …..

        I do have more items of evidence, backed up with links if required.

        I tell you what , I’ll make you a deal Judith . When I see the the Directors and CEOs of these fracking companies with their immediate families, living within the half kilometre sacrifice zones. I to will accept fracking is safe and fully embrace it.

        Let’s see these people lead by example.

        • Your link isn’t exactly evidence-based is it? A key problem with the anti-fracking community is that they don’t seem particularly good at critically appraising evidence. That’s not too surprising because it’s one of the key requirements for passing a PhD and that’s something that not too many of you have managed to achieve. In terms of living next to a fracking site, I’d quite happily live in a tent within a few m’s of a well head as I know the risks are virtually non-existent.

          • I’m sure there are Martin, but people only care about the ones that had problems, you know this.

            Blind spots?
            Please stop making assumptions about me, it’s irritating.

            As for those comments made about Mr Egan.
            That’s bad manners and shameful behaviour.

    • Thanks Ruth for your reporting on this and on all the personal attendance reports you make, you keep us informed and debating, for which we owe you everything.

      I hope you have a good six or seven days at Chester Town Hall.

  1. I think you will find that it’s more than just Greens who are against more dirty Fossil fuel extraction, its a majority of people with common sense. The handful of supporters are either in the industry or trying desperately to recover lost investments. A change of government will soon turn these pipe and gaffer tape sites into ( I love this term) Stranded Assets.

  2. We don’t have time to sit around and debate our love affair with the extractive industry. Those who seek to frack or acidize will be happy if we confine ourselves to this. The IPCC has spoken: take their advice and act now to prevent a new domestic fossil fuel industry; or ignore or postpone their advice and be ready for the consequences. The consequences won’t of course affect us in the first instance, merely the hungry half of the planet. Has our civilisation reached the point at which we can regard them as dispensable? Let’s hope not! :Let’s realise what we are getting ourselves into. Let’s stop this, for heaven’s sake!

  3. All very alternative-but this is not fracking! Just because IGAS intend fracking elsewhere, don’t think others will be fooled.

    A good example however of the attempts to excite by moving the goal posts, on the (false) understanding that the audience will not be aware. Possibly true in a small numbers of cases, but also possibly true the majority can actually read.

    • It doesn’t really matter.

      Now that the fracking has upset so many people, and the underhanded behaviour of certain companies supported by our Really Useful ministers is now more widely understood. Just about anything oil/gas does onshore is going to seem scary.

      It’s entirely the oil/gas industries own fault that we don’t trust them.

      People don’t trust the politicians any more for exactly the same reason.

      What’s left? Why when ordinary people get frightened, we get Civil disobedience

  4. People who get frightened Chris should check out the facts and may find they don’t have anything to be frightened of. You sum it up neatly as “going to seem scary” but I don’t know that many around Wytch Farm are scared, not even the wild life on the nature reserves. The estate agents are positively chuffed.

    However, there are thousands of people in the UK scared about the impacts of fuel poverty upon their life expectancy and thousands will find that is very real.

    I live near a zoo and would be scared about being mauled by tigers-but it hardly is a driver to Civil disobedience.

    • A right to be ” frightened ” MARTIN,

      Antarctica is MELTING SIX TIMES FASTER today, than in 1980s
      ( 14/01/2019 )

      Extracting more fossil fuels , will amplify this problem.

      As far as fuel poverty goes, we have endlessly debated this issue …… Anyone with more than ONE BRAIN CELL in their heads, will be fully aware that the problems associated with fuel poverty , will NOT be resolved by UK fracking/oil extraction .

    • Martin. There you go once again with your crocodie tears on the subject of “thousands of people in the U.K. scared about the impacts of fuel poverty upon their life expectancy”. There is absolutely no shortage of gas and, as you well know, the fracking industry themselves have admitted any gas they produce, if they produce any, will be sold on the open market to the highest bidder, not necessarily in the U.K. Francis Egan’s talk of Lancashire gas cooking Lancashire dinners is just so much hot air. Probably the only hot air Cuadrilla will produce. As for Ineos who hold around half the PEDLs, their gas is destined to produce even more of that dastardly plastic we hear so much about.

  5. Maybe the two of you do not pay tax, and have no idea that is what pays for such things as the population, as a whole, push the Parliament of the time to invest in their priorities.

    If that tax is not gathered, then there is no chance of that happening. The UK gather no tax from imported gas. It really is quite simple. Not that many brain cells required. INEOS may pay more UK tax rather than let Donald have it for his wall.

    Jack-why do you think the UK would suddenly become gas addicts simply because the source of their gas changed? Simply because you want to make the connection. The UK would simply get more in the UK and import less-absolutely no impact upon climate change or the Antarctic-other than the positive impact of reducing transport emissions.

    I quite like plastic but I do not like the fact that many can not dispose of it correctly. But, again you confuse people’s inability to deal with simple issues as the problem lying with the issue rather than managing it. Apply the same logic to sewage and the country really would be (even more) constipated!

    • Martin. I’m not sure if you are referring to me regarding paying tax.i can assure you that my 74 year old husband and myself at 71 do pay tax. We also still work part time. Your ridiculous remarks really are patronising. . Why pro frackers feel that insulting anyone who doesn’t agree with them will win fracking any support is beyond me.

      • I believe that after having tried to be condescending and failed.
        Then trying polite insults and seeing that fail, Martin is experiencing that well deserved sense of desperation called clutching at straws.

        Sorry Martin but it’s true
        None of your arguments are sustainable and I think you knew that when you tried them.

        New balls please 🤓

      • Well, Pauline if you pay tax, you should recognise that is a piece of the pie. So is the tax from UK business. It is yourself who want that piece of the pie reduced and claim it will make no difference but I suspect like most antis you are unwilling and unable to make up the shortfall.

        It does make a difference. You may want to avoid the costs of that to others but they exist. It is you who is patronising to think people are ridiculous who see that and point it out.

        Thousands DO die connected to energy poverty in the UK every year. You can easily find the data. “Crocodile tears”??? If you are unable to face the reality, please have some compassion. Reality is not insulting or ridiculous.

        • Could have come right out of a sales manual (something else I have some experience of), and that always depends on the messenger having the trust of the people.

          Which you and oil/gas don’t have.

          • So do I Chris, but I am not selling. I simply point out what is reality. You can argue that is not the case but if others live normal lives they will recognise what is factual and what is fantasy. May bring tears to your eyes but I worked in a very competitive industry and was judged (appraised) including how much of a concern I was to competitors. Easy to identify that. Some of the antis now make it very apparent that as soon as reality enters the discussion it is treated as an infection. That speaks to a few, hardly the people.

            So, Heathrow, Gatwick are not down for expansion and Fawley Refinery is not planning a £500m expansion of diesel output? There seem to be a lot of people with trust that you don’t share.

            Or, you could calculate how much taxation Belgium will gain from a 3 BILLION EURO investment announced by INEOS into Antwerp today.

            • I disagree.
              What you offer is a very narrow view of reality from the industry’s perspective.

              You don’t address the very real concerns that ordinary people have, based on hard evidence.

              As for a 3 billion euro investment?
              Well it’s a great headline but it means very little to ordinary folk. They’ve seen how enormous companies making colossal profits manage to avoid paying tax.

              Back to trust again
              It’s scarcity tells it’s own story

          • Well, Chris, you could ask the workforce at Grangemouth about that. You know, the ones who were redundant until INEOS secured their jobs at the very last minute. And not just them, but the community that relies upon Grangemouth.

            Ordinary folk.

          • I differentiate between virtue signalling, and making statements about reality, Fifi. Not always the same thing.

            I have explained on this site before I used to meet with clients in and around Grangemouth over a span of more than 20 years. I simply reflected what they discussed with me during the problem years for the Grangemouth site and the years following. Ordinary folk but very vulnerable to the direct and indirect costs that Grangemouth closure would have produced.

            But, I welcome that you think there is virtue within my posts!

            • I see nothing virtuous in promoting an industry which will do nothing to ease ‘fuel poverty’. There is no such thing as fuel poverty there is just poverty.

            • Oh yes there is Fifi. There is clear data on the subject. If you want to ignore that, that is your choice but it simply demonstrates you are blind to real evidence.
              You are like a football fan who after a 3:1 loss, refuses to have seen the 3 goals and claims a 1:0 win! Shows a lot of conviction, but not based upon the facts.

      • Spot on
        As bananarama said

        It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it.

        That’s what gets results

        Some profrackers claim to be highly educated but miss that critical point.

        It makes all the difference

    • MARTIN, a FULL and detailed response required , with supporting evidence, LINKS to back up your response

      IMMEDIATE…….. FOSSIL FUEL phaseout required MARTIN.

      On the subject of INEOS, how much UK tax revenue will generated from the tax haven ,Monaco ??????

      MARTIN, let’s get this out in the open…….TAX REVENUE will only be generated when and only WHEN profits are made .. When you take into account the horrendous start up and ongoing running costs and the cost of cheaper imported oil and gas . That UK TAX you talk about may, NEVER materialise.

      If a Wizzard Of Oz style miracle could happen and a UK Fracking well was to become profitable . To generate any meaningful UK tax revenue , you would need the country looking like a Fracking PIN CUSHION.

      Please tell me what the cost to the NHS will be when you factor in the poor health of the population as a result of Fracking, as warned by medical professionals ???????

      British Medical Journal ( BMJ )……..
      Public Health England’s draft report on shale gas extraction

      • Sorry Jack, as soon as you started to wander off into Wonderland, I lost interest.

        However, to keep it simple-how much tax has been produced from the N.Sea?? None?? Oops. (No, I am not comparing reference value, just gently pointed out the nonsense that your link assisted post has produced.) Alternatively, how about Norway??

        “May never materialise”- absolutely. But, that would preclude most businesses starting up. Factually correct but the road to economic ruin.

        Of course the start up costs can be reduced if certain factions didn’t keep adding to them!

        And you really need to do some more research on where INEOS operate and pay taxes, rather than where the owners live-some of the time. But, you won’t because we have discussed that several times before, the reality doesn’t aid your argument so you ignore the reality.

        • Do you have a problem reading English MARTIN ?????

          Or are you doing your usual , completely avoid the difficult points I put forward ???????

          Before we go any further , PLEASE NOTE ladies and gentlemen, MARTIN is providing an OPINION ONLY …….. He/she will never provide one shred of evidence in the form of a link to back up his/her comments.

          Moving on, let’s break this down and keep it simple

          (1) An onshore fracking well has a very short life expectancy ( in some cases only several years ) OOOPS , less than one day if we talk about Cuadrilla. This is a company that produces nothing, so buys in gas to burn ………. North Sea gas has been online for decades.

          (2) Onshore Fracking is putting communities in very close proximity to wells , increasing the potential for serious health problems ……. What will be the financial cost for the NHS MARTIN ??????

          MANY more links available, if required.

          (3) Fracking in the USA , with its almost ZERO regulations can NOT make a profit…… How possibly could more costly , restrictive UK shale ever make a profit ????

          Can U.S. Shale Overcome Its Cash Flow Problem

          Chuck Ponzi Treks to the Oil Patch: A Dangerous Corporate Debt Bubble.

          Please now MARTIN, take note of my original and above post and address the issues put forward.

          • Jack I’m with you all day long on points 2 and 3, there is a great deal of risk and I think the industry Planning/PR has been very naive maybe even arrogant in the way it’s treated the general public.
            I’d put it on a par with the idiots who ran the Remain campaign for Brexit, and we all know how that turned out.

            Now as for your point 1.
            I can’t comment on any wells I don’t know about but I’m told the onshore well at PNR is planned to have a very long life.

            • PNR is a test site Chris.

              I am sure Cuadrilla would like it to have a very long life, but if they continue with horizontals around 900 metres only, it is unlikely they will get such a gas flow that that will be the case.

              Strange view about the general public, those who voted Brexit but it was some idiots that ran the campaign that should be blamed!

              Perhaps that is why it is so difficult to understand that the majority of the general public questioned in the tracker survey are not against fracking? The public are allowed to come to their own decisions.

            • No, it is not as simple as that, Chris. You may have some experience in sales, but apparently not in market research.

              Fracking is currently an authorised process in England. The situation is NOT to get to that stage, England is THERE. You are looking at it as if it was the other way round. That is not the reality.
              The tracker survey shows that around TWO THIRDS questioned were not AGAINST that continuing. In other words, there is not anywhere near a majority to change the status quo. TWO THIRDS are not against the status quo, the status quo is that fracking is an authorised process in England.

              I can understand the wish of the antis that it is something different but it isn’t. I spent £ thousands of company money on MR and if I had tried to reflect the results in your way, I would simply be asked why I had spent all that money without being able to know what the results were!

              • Ok Martin
                Was authorised in Wales
                Now it’s not
                Was authorised in Scotland
                Now it’s not
                MP’s worry most about re-election – and if their constituents object to fracking in sufficient numbers it can be de authorised.
                And that could happen

            • Hello CHRIS600UK,

              As a rough guide, take a look at the raw data on Shale well in the USA.

              Note the steep declines in production….

              The Truth About U.S. Shale Oil Production.


              Is all the effort and cost worth it in a world that has to face the harsh reality , that extracting more fossil fuels to burn is a one way ticket to hasten catastrophic, irreversible climate change .

            • I would suggest you do not do that Chris because the experience within the USA in that aspect has absolutely no connection with what may happen in the UK!

              But, if you want to follow that route, then continue along it and you will find it leads to oil/gas self sufficiency and $ billions in tax revenues and huge number of locals and communities who benefit substantially.

            • Yes Chris, it could be deauthorised. Equally, gas might start to be produced and a financial package to the locals and the general public could be established.

              I think you will find the latter quite effective. Lots of greens in Norway, but the Norwegians generally are supportive of oil and gas as it provides the revenue for many projects that wouldn’t otherwise be funded. Maybe that’s part of the reason they are ahead of us in some alternative energy transition?

          • Your points are not difficult at all Jack, simply selective. You can easily find a great number of links from people in the USA who have fracking going on much closer to them and even their schools-and are quite happy about it, and they receive a return from that which they are happy about too. I don’t look too closely any more, but came across a new one only a couple of days ago.

            I am not going to supply those links for you. You know they exist, you could not avoid them with all your “research” but you ignore them.

            You may wish to address the ladies and gentlemen-an improvement on boys and girls-as if they haven’t done the research either, and some won’t, but that doesn’t mean you will be successful in preventing me pointing that out to them and they can make their own choice.

            Nice try, but a little desperate.

        • We’ve come to expect that Oil/Gas and anyone who earns enough, is likely to make use of tax havens to protect themselves from tax. When I lived in Spain my next door neighbour lived there to take advantage of the tax regime. So it’s only what’s expected and you don’t know that the company won’t do that.
          If I was them it’s what I’d do.

          As for the costs of let say PNR’s fracking site, the one I know most about.
          It’s fair to say that the delays caused by protesting and the tremors/traffic light system have probably pushed costs up exponentially, so although you didn’t make much of that, it’s also a fair point.

  6. Well then Chris, you should show a smiley face Emoji in place of anything constructive to offer, shouldn’t you?!

    Let’s take a look. Oh, a worried face. Not to worry, no-one noticed.

    Oh yes they did.

  7. Or, Chris looking at the recent report:

    “Our findings suggest that changing peoples’ minds first requires them to appreciate what they don’t know.”

    No real hope of that with some, so if you think that is my motivation that is your problem.

    Just think of me as Eddy Stone showing a way through the fog. Some will make use of that others will not. The reality of the rocks will still be there.

  8. Anyone can see you’ve made some fair points, and I’ve learned from them, but I hope you can see how difficult it is to accept information from the oil/gas industry which does not have a good history, and still engages in misinformation.

    No matter how unfair it may feel, no one cares if there are towns or communities that have benefited from fracking – no one wants to be the unlucky one that suffered because the frackers got it wrong, or took shortcuts. Bad news travels fastest, and lingers the longest.

  9. There are many towns, communities and individuals who have benefitted from fracking Chris. Jack seems to have a blind spot as far as they are concerned, and you may share it, which is up to you. But when Francis Egan, at the weekend, had to explain how he was accused as a baby killer I would suggest it is not a case of bad news, but more like selected news and some nasty fabrication.

    • Yes MARTIN ,

      You are correct, 95% of the Cuadrilla PNR residents were offered……………

      Wait for it , now are you sitting down comfortably CHRIS600UK, because this figure is a real blinder.

      They were offered £150 ….

      MARTIN is correct and I’m sorry CHRIS600UK that I didn’t present you with this eye watering number sooner.

      The question is, has £150 tempted you to embrace fracking in your local community ??????

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