Regulation

Live news updates Day 10: IGas Ellesmere Port inquiry

Ellesmere-Port-tanks-FFEP Slider

IGas site at Ellesmere Port. Photo: Frack Free Ellesmere Port and Upton.

This post has live news updates from the tenth day of the inquiry into IGas plans to test its well at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire.

The hearing is expected to discuss any conditions on the proposals should they be improved by the inspector, Brian Cook. This afternoon the campaign group, Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton, will make its closing statement.

Frack Free Ellesmere Port closing submissions

IGas and Cheshire West and Chester Council are expected to make their closing statements next week.

You can catch up on key points from other sessions of the inquiry here

Reporting from this inquiry is made possible by by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers.


3.17pm Inquiry closes

The inquiry resumes at 10.30am on Tuesday.


 

3.09pm Review of the inquiry progress

The inspector, Brian Cook, says the inquiry will hear the closing statements from the council on Tuesday and IGas on Wednesday. IGas will also make an application for costs.


2.20pm Continuing closing argument from campaign group

Frack Free Ellesmere Port closing submissions

190228 dod 2

Estelle Dehon, barrister for Frack Free Ellesmere Port and Upton (FFEP&U) resumes her closing submissions.

Air quality and public health

FFEP&U gave evidence on air quality and public health – the only experts from whom the inquiry heard. Ms Dehon says.

It is not the case, as IGas argued, that simply because the EA has undertaken an assessment and referred to health impacts, that dictates the outcome in planning terms, Ms Dehon says.

The EA concluded that the IGas scheme was low risk. But with the changes to the location that have taken place – the residential and business receptors now closer to the site – that has changed, Ms Dehon says.

She adds that the IGas air quality assessment failed to make a link greenhouse gas emissions and air quality impact.

“The latest independent peer reviewed evidence indicates clearly that
unconventional gas extraction does create poor air quality”

A variation to the permit by the Environment AGency was not a public health impact assessment, Ms Dehon says.

IGas has also not taken into account that the wards closest to the site, Rossmore and Ellesmere Port Town include populations ranked amongst the 10% most deprived nationally. Standardised mortality ratios in these wards are 53%, 42% and 24% higher than England respectively.

Ms Dehon says:

There is evidence that deprived communities are disproportionately exposed
and vulnerable to the effects of exposure to environmental pollution including traffic related impacts on air quality. Even small levels of exposure can impact negatively on such communities.

Because of this, IGas cannot show that it complies with local planning policy, Ms Dehon says.

Geology

The inquiry heard from two geologists for FFEP&U. They said the geological information provided by IGas to the EA does not correspond to geology at the wellsite. It was taken from an area 8km to the east near Ince Marshes. IGas accepted this, Ms Dehon says, and considered it to be acceptable. This was not made clear to the Environment Agency, Ms Dehon says.

According to an FFEP&U witness, the information provided to the EA was that it
removed relevant scales, cut off most of the aquifer and put in what purported
to be EP1 at the right hand side of the diagram. His view was that the provision
of information from 8km away, and the way it was presented, was unacceptable.

Professor David Smythe, for FFEP&U, concluded the geology around the site was “littered with faults”.  He concluded

“it cannot be assumed that there is no risk of seismicity and no risk to groundwater, because the EA considered the geological data”.

it is impossible to determine with certainty the existence or extent of the alleged risk to seismicity and groundwater because of the insufficiency, inconclusiveness or imprecision of the results of studies conducted.

Ms Dehon says there is a real likelihood of harm to public health which persists should the risks materialise because of potential conduits for contamination.

Ms Dehon adds:

based on the precautionary principle, planning permission should not be granted.

FFEP&U also gave evidence on concerns about the presence of H2S on the site.

Public concern

Ms Dehon says there is case law that public perception of risk to their health and safety from a proposed development is a material planning consideration.

The court of appeal concluded explicitly said a decision-maker was wrong in saying that genuine public fears, unless justified, could never amount to a reason for refusal, Ms Dehon says.

IGas said public concern was not objectively justified and could not be the basis for refusal. Ms Dehon says this is

legally unfounded and and plainly, blatantly, wrong

Ms Dehon says:

There is clear evidence before the Inspector that there are widespread,
genuinely held fears on the part of the local community that the development
represents a risk to their health and to their safety.

She dismisses arguments that the concerns were based on misinformation or irrational.

Ms Dehon says:

This is not an ignorant or an ill-informed community.

They have long experience of the impacts of industry. They have access to, and have accessed, information on the impacts of shale gas exploration within a residential community, even when regulated. They have read the science.

They have a wealth of information about the public health impacts of climate change, to which this development unquestionably will contribute – again, they have read the science.

So these genuinely held and entirely justified concerns, in and of themselves, are a reason to refuse planning permission

Ms Dehon says even if the inspector considers the fears unjustified, does not they are irrelevant and deserving of less weight.

Social harm

Evidence from FFEP&U showed that Ellesmere Port was already a socially-vulnerable area.

Ms Dehon says over 80% of Ellesmere Port Town (ward) residents live in areas of
multiple deprivation (compared to approximately 20% for England and less
than 20% for the borough of Cheshire West and Chester).

Residents who are poorer, suffering from health problems, unhappy and opposed to the proposed development may experience its impacts more intensely than others.

The specific characteristic of the local community make the social harm caused by grant planning permission more acute.

The National PLanning Policy Framework requires development to support strong, vibrant and healthy communities.

FFEP&U evidence is that the IGas proposal will do the opposite.

Ms Dehon says of IGas:

“In the way it interacted with the community (right from 2014), in the
information it provided, in its high-handed approach, in its resort to
injunctions, the Appellant made a series of decisions that caused and then
exacerbated the community’s lack of trust.

This contributed significantly to the social harm which the development will cause.”

IGas had argued that it drilled the 2014 Ellesmere Port well responsibly. But Ms Dehon says it gave different information to the council and Environment Agency to that it gave to the public about the target formation.

An IGas witness did finally accept that a reasonable member of the public looking at the brochure would have come away with the impression that the Appellant was going to drill for Coal bed methane, Ms Dehon says.

Complete breakdown of trust

Ms Dehon says:

what makes this proposal different from other proposals is that it is planned to be situated in the heart of an already vulnerable community, in the context of a complete breakdown in trust between that community and the developer, based on the developer’s behaviour, and where the expert evidence shows a grant of planning permission would lead to social harm and a public health impact.

She says it the right time for social harm properly to be dealt with as a material planning consideration.

The planning process is about addressing the social harm that underlies views and the future social harm that would flow from the grant of planning permission, Ms Dehon says.

Planning balance

Ms Dehon says

The proposed development does not comply with the development plan so
planning permission should be refused unless material considerations
indicate otherwise. They do not.

She acknowledges that there is government support for shale gas exploration. But she says even greater weight must be given to the adverse climate change impact of the proposals.

Ms Dehon says:

The harms in terms of air quality impacts, uncertainty around the geology and the groundwater position, social harm and public concern weigh heavily in the balance.

She says the benefits are minimal. Benefits to production must be ignored. Primary economic benefits are to IGas, Ms Dehon says, and should carry minimal weight.

IGas arguments that there would be intangible economic benefits to UK plc amount to double-counting, Ms Dehon says. These are policy benefits inherent in the national need which are already taken into account.

Ms Dehon says employment generated by the scheme is unlikely to benefit the local community .

She says:

Material considerations therefore firmly weigh against the proposed
development.

She invites the inspector to refuse the application because it cannot be made acceptable through the imposition of planning conditions.

Planning conditions

Ms Dehon says if permission were granted, conditions should be imposed to scale back the proposals. Case law showed that planning controls could be imposed even when there were related conditions in environmental permits.

Matrix acidisation

FFEP&U has asked for a condition prohibiting matrix acidisation because the application did not specify the proposed extraction method. An IGas witness accepted the nature of the proposed development is not clear from the planning documents, Ms Dehon says.

It was only in evidence in response to FFEP&U did IGas confirm that it proposed to carry out acid squeeze, she says.

The Appellant repeatedly claimed the permit does prevent matrix acidisaiton, but failed to show how in its evidence and felt the situation was sufficiently unclear to take the extraordinary step of writing to the EA on the cusp of the inquiry and asking it to provide clarification.

There is nothing to stop IGas obtaining a variation of the environmental permit if it wanted to carry out matrix acidisation or acid fracking, Ms Dehon says.

Sole reliance on the permit to prevent matrix acidisaiton for the purpose of the planning permission is not justified, would abdicate the planning responsibility.

Acid concentration

Another proposed condition should require the use of Protekt-7HCL, Ms Dehon says.

She says IGas referred to both the use of 7% and 15% hydrocloric acid. She says planning permission should properly reflect that the Appellant has based
its case on the use of HCL at 7% concentration.

Habitats directive

Ms Dehon says the IGas scheme has potential to have an impact on natural habitats.

The inspector will have to decide whether the council carried out an appropriate screening exercise for wildlife and – if not – carry out his own assessment with required consultation, Ms Dehon says.

Conclusion

Ms Dehon says:

The local community has said a resounding no to the proposed development.
Its opposition is not ill-informed or ignorant or knee-jerk, as some have attempted to characterise it.

She says FFEP&U witness have shown:

The proposed development is simply in the wrong place and, in light of its
adverse impacts, is not acceptable in planning terms.

The IGas scheme would breach to local strategic policies: Strat 1 and Strat 4. It also breaches policy on health and well-being, alternative energy supplies, water management, biodiversity and mineral development.

She invites the inspector to dismiss the appeal.

People in the public gallery applaud and give Ms Dehon a standing ovation.


2.08pm Break

The inquiry resumes at 2.20pm with more closing arguments from Frack Free Ellesmere Port and Upton


1.15pm Closing arguments – campaign group

Frack Free Ellesmere Port closing submissions

Estelle Dehon, barrister for Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton, begins her closing arguments.

Ms Dehon says:

IGas’s proposed exploration for shale gas, on a site 320m from local residences
and 50m from local businesses, is not sustainable. Its impact in terms of
greenhouse gas emissions, its negative air quality impacts, negative public
health impacts, the social and economic harm it will cause, the risks it poses to nearby residents and businesses and the way in which it undermines the
regeneration vision for Ellesmere Port and its historic Waterfront mean that it
is not sustainable development.

It in breach of two key local strategic polices: STRAT 1 and STRAT 4. It is also in breach of policies SOC 5 on health and well-being; ENV 7 on alternative energy supplies; ENV 1 on water management; ENV 4 on biodiversity and ENV 9 on mineral development.

Description of the proposal

She says the description of the scheme should be changed. She says IGas described the proposal:

“Mobilise well test equipment, including a workover rig and associated equipment, to the existing wellsite to perform a workover, drill stem
test and extended well test of the hydrocarbons encountered during the
drilling of the EP-1 well, followed by well suspension”

She says it is unclear what the hydrocarbons are. The EPi well was drilled for coalbed methane appraisal and production.

“A reasonable reader might then think the instant application for planning permission refers to that hydrocarbon”.

FFEP&U submits that there would be no difficulty with specifying
“shale gas”, given that is the hydrocarbon which, on the Appellant’s evidence,
its operation aims to test.

The group suggests that the description should include the words “shale gas” in place of “hydrocarbons”.

IGas has said it is targetting the Pentre Chert. But FFEP&U gave evidence that the extent of Petre Chert is disputed. Pentre Chert should be replaced by Middle Bowland Shale, Ms Dehon says. The location of the Pentre Chert in the shale formation is confirmed by an IGas witness.

Use of acid

The Environment Agency has clarified that IGas will not use matrix acidisation. It will use acid wash and an acid squeeze, Ms Dehon says.

Planning policy

The proposal was refused because councillors said it failed to comply with council policy on sustainable development, Strat 1 and Strat 4.

Ms Dehon says:

this issue boils down to location location location. The proposed development is simply in the wrong location. As a result is it not sustainable development and planning permission should be refused.

An FFEP&U witness, Professor Watterson expressed surprise that the development
is proposed for the site, given its location: he would not normally expect to see
testing like this in a town area with a large population.

Unsuitable location

Ms Dehon says the particularities of the location that make the development unsustainable. It is:
• within 100 metres of 9 industrial units;
• 150 metres from the M53, the major link from Birkenhead to the rest of
the UK;
• 200 metres from an explosives store (exact location not known for
security reasons);
• 250 metres from the epicentre of an earth tremor registering M1.6 in
1992;
• 250 metres from the Manchester Ship Canal which is used to carry
petroleum and hazardous chemicals to the Stanlow petrochemical
complex;
• 270 metres from one of the most important wildfowl overwintering sites
in the UK which is classed as a SSSI / RAMSAR / SPA site, with cross
national boundary implications;
• 320 metres from a high-density residential area, which could be
developed to within 250m of the well;
• on the edge of the Rossmore Ward which is within the 5% most deprived wards in the country (2015 HM Gov. Indices of Multiple Deprivation);
• 800 metres from a children’s play centre;
• 860 metres from the closest of two large residential homes for the elderly,
including highly vulnerable poor mobility people;
• 1 km from several schools.
• 1 km from a hotel / tourist attraction complex.
• 1 km from Rivacre Brook. This brook is addressed in the evidence of Mr
Grayson.
• 1.2 km from an existing Air Quality Management Area running through
the town centre.
• 1.7 km from the centre of Ellesmere Port. Ellesmere Port
• 5,000 residences within a 2km radius. A zone that many Australian states
would class as a “buffer zone” between wells and residences / public
buildings, and which the USA emergency services would evacuate in the
event of a well blowout.
• 3.3 km from water extraction points identified as “for human
consumption”.
• 4.5 km from a nuclear site which has strict seismic criteria in its nuclear
licence.
• Above the Sherwood Aquifer

Wrong information

Ms Dehon says the EA appears to have carried out at least some of its assessment on the basis that the nearest residences were around 745m away (EA 29). The very near neighbouring businesses are not referred to.

Risk

Ms Dehon says the risk from the site can never be zero. She refers to an explosion last August at the nearby Stanlow Oil Refinery.  She says:

There remains a residual risk of blowout or fire, which could affect neighbours or could, via a gas plume, impact on receptors up to 800m away, depending on wind direction (this would encompass the children’s play area and a residential home for the elderly).

Neither the Police nor the Fire Services has been involved in the creation of an emergency plan for the site, she says. IGas has not attempted to quantify the residual risk in its evidence; only to suggest it is very small. The harm that could potentially be caused could be serious, she says.

Original choice of site

Ms Dehon says

The site was originally chosen by Nexen in 2009 based on a number of factors,
one of which was that it was “remote from surrounding residential properties”. That has changed irrevocably and the location is no longer sustainable.

She says the regeneration framework for Ellesmere Port envisages the site as part of a waterfront development.

Development of the site for shale gas exploration does not sit with this vision.

In planning terms, it is ill suited to the regeneration vision, not only because it could prevent regeneration of the site and surrounds for a number of years (whether exploration is successful or not), but also because of the knock-on effect on surrounding sites – developers may not be wild about bringing forward their regeneration schemes in proximity to a shale gas well, particularly given the perceptions that surround such development.

Ms Dehon refers a request by Peel Holdings to not allocate the land in the local plan. But that should not take precedence. She says “It is the democratically elected council which support the Vision, that take precedence.”

Climate change

Ms Dehon says climate change is a material consideration in all planning decisions.

“nothing in the assessment by other regulators, such as the EA, has addressed
the climate change impact of the GHG emissions that will be produced by the
proposed development.”

IGas has argued that greenhouse gas emissions were inevitable.

Ms Dehon says this argument was used by the development in the High Court case involving an open case coal mine. This accepted that greenhouse gas emissions was a relevant material consideration in planning decisions.

She says:

The relevance of GHG emissions and climate change impact to every planning
permission is in line with the statutory obligations on the government, under
the Climate Change Act 2008 (legislation referred to in the NPPF), including to
remain within the carbon budgets, and with the requirements articulated by
the IPCC on 8 October 2018 in the Global Warming of 1.5˚C Report

The NPPF provides that the planning system should should “shape places in ways that contribute to a radical reduction in greenhouse gas emissions”.

The Secretary of STate told a recent court case brought by Talk Fracking: The decision-maker must evaluate the up to date evidence, including any updated science that post-dates the NPPF, and make the decision accordingly – the NPPF “cannot dictate to the plan-maker and the decision-maker”

Ms Dehon says:

It is therefore for the Inspector to take the latest climate position into account,
as set out in the IPCC 1.5 degree report (which post-dates all the relevant policy statements on shale gas). This justifies greater weight being given to policies addressing climate change and GHG emissions than was previously the case.

She adds:

In light of the case law, the proposed development does not get a “GHG pass”
because GHG emissions are “inevitable”.

Greenhouse gas emissions

The proposed development will cause GHG emissions, from the flaring of the gas, from cold venting, from tank venting and from traffic emissions, Ms Dehon says.

She says:

The GHG emissions caused by the proposed development will persist for a very long time in the atmosphere. They will impact on the ability of the UK to
achieve the radical reductions needed to avoid the extremely serious impacts
of warming above 1.5°C.

Ms Dehon says the proposed development is not sustainable development in climate change terms. It does not meet the environmental objective of the council’s policy, Strat 1, and it does not mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Ms Dehon says:

Planning permission can be refused under STRAT 1 if the residual emissions, after all possible steps to reduce GHG emissions have been designed into a development, are unacceptably high. That is the meaning of mitigating the effects of climate change.

Planning balance

Ms Dehon says weight can and must still be given to government policy on minerals extraction and on the need for shale gas (even though those policies all predate the IPCC Report), even greater weight must be given to the policies preventing climate change.

She says:

Given the existential threat of climate change, given the IPCC’s warnings of the need for immediate action to stay within 1.5 degrees of warming (we have 11 years in which to act), it is the policies that seek to address climate change and limit GHG emissions that must be given the greatest weight.

The UK is not on track to meet the 4th or 5th carbon budgets, the inquiry has heard from Professor Kevin Anderson.

Ms Dehon says:

We are currently at 1 to 1.1 degrees above preindustrial levels. If we are to hold to 1.5 degrees we have a small carbon budget available; incredibly small. Every additional molecule will take away from that tight carbon budget. So there is little emissions space.

Ms Dehon argues that three tests by the Committee on Climate Change on shale gas compatibility with the UK carbon budget have not been met.

IGas has suggested that the CCC was not interested in exploration emissions and it intended to exclude exploration from three tests. The company also said uncertainty about exploration climate impacts can be addressed by monitoring. But Ms Dehon says FFEP&U’s evidence refuted these points. She asks the inspector to prefer evidence from Professor Anderson to that from IGas.

Volume of emissions

Ms Dehon says IGas calculations for the Environment Agency on greenhouse gas were now known to be wrong.

New volumes before the inquiry ranged from 6,143.57tonnes-21,345.69tonnes. This is based on a global warming potential of methane of 20 years.

Every emission emitted by this development is one that cannot be emitted by a school or a hospital or any other development if we are to stay within our carbon budget.

That is one of the reasons why the greeenhouse gas emissions from this development is different from ghg emissons from other developments such as housing, schools and hospitals.

These have schemes have benefits to the community. This is not the case for the benefits that are said to flow from this development, she says.

Decisions by other regulators

IGas has argued that environmental permits deal with any environmental problems.

Case law says that matters dealt with by other regulatory regimes are material planning considerations, Ms Dehon tells the inquiry.  Planning policy minerals takes the same position, she says.

The case law says planning decision makers can take those regimes and the assessment of other regulators into account, where they have the requisite evidence to do so, Ms Dehon says.

Planning decision-makers “should not need to carry out their own assessment as they can rely on the assessment of other regulatory bodies”, Ms Dehon says. But this does not preclude occasions arising when the planning decision-maker is required to carry out his own assessment.

Decisions made in one regime does not predetermine the outcome of any decision made in the other regime, she adds. A planning inspector “must not simply rely on
the earlier grant of the environmental permit and abdicate responsibility for
his decision making”. The grant of an environmental permit is not conclusive of whether the proposed development is acceptable in planning terms.

Assuming other regulators will operate effectively is not an irrebuttable presumption, Ms Dehon says. An IGas witness  wrongly gave evidence that decision-makers “must assume” that the separate pollution control regimes will operate effectively, she adds.

There must also be evidence to justify the planning decision maker to leave  matters of regulatory control to the statutory regulatory authorities to consider”.

It would be an error  of law in those circumstances to assume that another regulatory regime has addressed a material consideration where there is positive evidence that is not the case.

IGas has argued that it must be assumed that the permit solves the problem. But it does not, Ms Dehon says.


12.36pm Break

The inquiry resumes at 1.15pm.


12.29pm Condition 27 – bond

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton seeks a bond for the costs of remediation in case IGas ceased trading. The group said IGas agreed to a bond under a section 106 for the Misson Springs shale gas site in Nottinghamshire.

The inspector, Brian Cook, says bonds cannot be secured by a planning condition.

Giles Cannock, for IGas, opposes the bond. He says National Planning Policy Framework says financial guarantees are only justified in exceptional circumstances. There are no exceptional circumstances, he says. The exploration licence is granted on the basis of financial standing and this is”under constant review” by the Oil & Gas Authority, Mr Cannock says.

He adds that the permission goes with the land and the cost would ultimately fall on the owner, Peel Holdings.

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton says it wants to see a bond on this site.


12.26pm Condition 26 – aftercare

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton proposes a 25-year aftercare plan. It says the currently proposed 5-year plan is too short. Evidence from the US shows that wells fail and five years is too short.

IGas disagrees with the 25-year length of the aftercare. If we need to monitor this site for 25-years we cannot hand it back, says Giles Cannock, for the company. There is no problem with putting a building on an abandoned well, he says. [Laughter from the audience]


12.22pm Condition 25 – restoration

IGas proposes to restore the site:

  • within 18 months of a decision to abandon the well or
  • within 5 years of cessation of the short term well test or
  • within 5 years of the extended well test

whichever is the later.

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton says it is seeking to reduce any delay in restoration to aid regeneration of the area.


12.18pm Condition 24 – evidence of insurance

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton requires evidence to be submitted to the council of insurance sufficient to deal with accidents.

IGas opposes the condition. It says this duplicates a responsibility of the Oil & Gas Authority. Giles Cannock, for IGas, says he has a difficulty of the council disagreeing about whether the insurance is sufficient.

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton says this is standard third party indemnity insurance. Mr Cannock says this can be tested through the terms and conditions of the community liaison group.


12.14pm Condition 23 – emergency plan

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton proposed this condition, which requires an emergency plan agreed with the emergency services. It should include emergency access routes and to be communicated to the public.

IGas opposes the condition. It says it is premature to liaise with the emergency services. Emergency planning is covered by health and safety regulations, the company says.

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton asks for the community liaison group to be made aware of the emergency plan. It is a point of public interest, the group says.


12.12pm Condition 22 – covered skips

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton requires material stored skips to be covered.

IGas objects to the condition. It says there is no drilling or cementing the borehole. Material from the borehole would be a slurry and so would not be stored in open skips.

The inspector, Brian Cook, supports the condition.


12.10pm Condition 21 – spills

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton proposed this condition which requires spills measuring more than 1m3 should be reported to the mineral planning authority and the community liaison group. Colin Watson for the group says this is to provide clarity to the local community.

IGas opposes the condition. It is vague and imprecise, Giles Cannock for the company says. He says it is a closed site and spills could not reach local water courses.


12.07pm Condition 20 – surface water monitoring

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton proposed this condition which seeks to sample surface water run-off weekly.

IGas opposes this condition. Giles Cannock, for the company, says run-off collection arrangements has not changed and there have been no complaints.

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton says there has been contamination of a local stream from the Preston New Road site in Lancashire.

The inspector, Brian Cook, says the condition does not achieve anything.


12.04pm Condition 19 – vehicle emission standards

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton proposes vehicles should comply with current emissions standards. Stationary vehicles should turn off their engines.

The inspector, Brian Cook, says this is not enforceable by IGas. Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton says this is council policy.


12 noon Condition 18 – air pollution monitoring

This condition is proposed by Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton. It requires monitoring at 100, 500m and 1,000m from the wellsite and results published weekly.

IGas opposes the condition because it says it would result in a ransom strip over the development.

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton says it is willing to change the wording for location of monitoring to sensitive receptors.

The inspector, Brian Cook, says the location of the monitoring could be included in the air quality monitoring plan.


11.59am Condition 17 – air monitoring plan

Agreed by all the parties.


11.53am Conditions 16 – odour control

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton asked for a scheme to be agreed before work can start on how odour complaints would be dealt with. The scheme should include options for ceasing operations. The group says odour is a key issue for Ellesmere Port residents. There needs to be a mechanism for how complaints are handled and how IGas should respond.

IGas disagrees with the condition because there won’t be any smell. It says this will be dealt with by the Environment Agency, the company says. Odour can’t be monitored and set against a tangible threshold, the company adds.


11.51am Conditions 15 – noise monitoring plan

This requires a noise monitoring plan to be approved before work starts. IGas opposes the requirement that the noise monitoring results should be available to the community liaison group within 72 hours of a request.


11.50am Conditions 13/14 – traffic route and noise levels

All the parties agree these conditions


11.48am Condition 11/12 – rig height and lighting

The condition restricts the rig height to 33m and requires a  lighting plan to be agreed before work can start. All parties agree these conditions.


11.37am Condition 10 – greenhouse gas reduction plan

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton proposed a condition requiring a greenhouse gas reduction plan before work could start. This should include a life cycle assessment of greenhouse gases and continuous methane monitoring.

IGas opposes the condition.

The inspector, Brian Cook, says  if the condition were necessary he would not have granted planning permission. This requires is further mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions to comply with council policy.

Mr Cook says the Environment Agency accepts that IGas is applying best available technology and it can’t do anything more.

Giles Cannock, for IGas, says this is a duplication of regulation. Best available technology is a matter for the Environment Agency, he says. He adds that there is no penalty if the condition is not met.

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton says continuous monitoring is being carried out at Preston New Road. Greenhouse gas emission planning and monitoring is standard practice in other industries and the onshore oil and gas industry should not be exempt. Exploration should be about greater understand and monitoring should be required.


11.34am Condition 9 – video of flare monitoring

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton request that video monitoring of the flare be made available on the grounds of highway safety. A councillor had been concerned that motorists on the nearby motorway would be distracted by visible emissions or flames from the flare.

The inspector, Brian Cook, ask whether the highways authority had raised concerns about this. Colin Watson, of Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton, says Highways England was not consulted.

Mr Cook says this should be included in the CLG terms and conditions.


11.33am Conditions 7/8 – heights

All parties agree the heights of the flares


11.30am Condition 6 – acid

This condition, from  Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton, requires the down well fluid be restricted to Protekt-7 hcl with inhibitors.

The inspector, Brian Cook, says the problem with the condition is that Protekt may be unavailable.

IGas disagrees with the condition. Giles Cannock says:

There appears to be a desire to tie up this development with bureaucratic knots.

He says members of the planning committee may

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton says the Environment Agency documents refer to 15% acid. There is an ambiguity in what IGas wants to use.

“We are trying to tie this down to what is being proposed”, Colin Watson for the group tells the inquiry.


11.27am Condition 5 – operation durations

The condition requires operations not to exceed the durations in the planning statement.  Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton asks that any delay and the reasons for it should be reported in writing to the Mineral Planning Authority and the community liaison group. IGas disagrees with the additional wording.


11.19am Condition 4 – information to community liaison group

The inspector, Brian Cook, says a condition is unnecessary: requiring IGas to provide information on volume, pressure and seismicity to meetings of a community liaison group.

Giles Cannock, barrister for IGas, says the proposed condition is vague and unenforceable. He says Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton want the information to monitor the site themselves because they don’t trust IGas, the Environment Agency or the planning authority.

Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton says they will accept this information being provided as part of the terms and conditions of the community liaison group.


11.10am Condition 3 – community liaison group

IGas opposes a condition on establishment of a clg. The inspector, Brian Cook, says he thinks this is necessary. He proposes using the wording on the Tinker Lane shale gas site clg in Nottinghamshire.


11.02am Condition 2 – matrix acidising

The condition seeks to outlaw matrix acidising. IGas opposes the proposed condition, saying it is unnecessary and duplication.

Frack Free Ellesmere Port and Upton says this would prevent confusion over the operation at the site. The group said it wanted to avoid what had happened in drilling the well, over coalbed methane or shale targets. The inspector says it could clarify the situation.


11.09am Condition 1 – time limit

IGas, Cheshire West and Chester Council and Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton agree to a condition limiting the permission to three years.


11.03am Conditions introduction

The inspector, Brian Cook, says the discussion of conditions does not prejudge the the outcome of the inquiry.

He says all conditions must meet six tests :

  • necessary
  • relevant to planning
  • relevant to the development
  • enforceable
  • precise
  • reasonable

Mr Cook says conditions should not duplicate controls of other regulatory bodies, such as the Environment Agency.  He says other regulators have swifter and stronger powers to deal with breaches than the planning authority.


11am Inquiry opens

The inspector, Brian Cook, opens this session of the inquiry


Reporting from this inquiry has been made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers

Categories: Regulation

23 replies »

  1. An excellent report Ruth thanks, the details of the conditions were particularly interesting, particularly this: apologies Ruth for the cut and paste.

    “11.37am Condition 10 – greenhouse gas reduction plan
    Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton proposed a condition requiring a greenhouse gas reduction plan before work could start. This should include a life cycle assessment of greenhouse gases and continuous methane monitoring.

    IGas opposes the condition.

    The inspector, Brian Cook, says if the condition were necessary he would not have granted planning permission. This requires is further mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions to comply with council policy.

    Mr Cook says the Environment Agency accepts that IGas is applying best available technology and it can’t do anything more.

    Giles Cannock, for IGas, says this is a duplication of regulation. Best available technology is a matter for the Environment Agency, he says. He adds that there is no penalty if the condition is not met.

    Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton says continuous monitoring is being carried out at Preston New Road. Greenhouse gas emission planning and monitoring is standard practice in other industries and the onshore oil and gas industry should not be exempt. Exploration should be about greater understand and monitoring should be required.”

    It was the line:
    “Giles Cannock, for IGas, says this is a duplication of regulation. Best available technology is a matter for the Environment Agency, he says. He adds that there is no penalty if the condition is not met.” that stood out most.

    Forgive me but is an EA condition that upon breaching it, has no penalty, is not in fact any condition at all?

    We see this in almost every application in the oil and gas scenario, words like, “no significant danger” “no appreciable significance of damage” “environmental receptors” and so on. I used to carry out report break downs for my company and if i were to have come across phrases such as those, i would query them them to restrict the wording precise engineering conditions to precise legally enforceable language that had real consequences.

    Words like significance for example, significance to whom and for what, when and how and to what degree? appreciable, to whom is it appreciable, when and how far away, and where and to what degree?

    You might say,

    “Life and the environment in Ellesmere Port in Cheshire (or elsewhere) was severely damaged by an anthropological event, but to people in Outer Mongolia, there was no significant danger following the event to environmental receptors there and were therefore of no appreciable significance to them, until the climate change effects reached them.” Where, when, how and to whom should always be the “significant” questions.

    Its all in the words isnt it.

  2. Will the antis finally win one? Doesn’t look like it but you never know.

    “IGas will also make an application for costs.”

    Against the Council and the “antis” hopefully.

      • Yes, Roseacre, however was it really an “anti win”? The Planning Officer had originally recommended refusal on traffic grounds so it was very unlikely this would ever be overturned at Appeal. It would not have been appealed if the Planning Committee had done their job and approved PNR – as recommended. Cuadrilla wanted only one location and were forced to appeal both due to the stupidity of the Planning Committee wasting a whole load of peopler’s time and money.

        But you are right, Roseacre was refused – quite rightly.

        • Ahhh Paul don’t be all Martin about it, it was the right decision but it was also clearly a result of the hard work and determination of RAG who basically demolished the applicants case. Credit where it is due!!!

            • Martin the reference to Paul being all “Martin” about it was a reference to being contrary and always right after the fact, which you quite beautifuly demonstrate in your post. Thanks

                • Wrong I am afraid Paul suggest you read the Pi’s report from public inquiry 1 and 2. It was RAGs expert witnesses that rubbished The Big Cs traffic surveys and mitigation proposals. Don’t be a poor looser.

    • Ooops! Bitter Paul? Isnt this democracy at work?

      Maybe outer mongolia is not so safe after all Paul? Thought of moving? I thought you took a long time to reply, bad internet i suppose, no 5g yet, never mind that will come. Never mind, “there is no penalty if the condition is not met.” Get out of jail free, what more could you ask.

      That explains it, but dont worry, the devastation of Ellesmere Port in Cheshire and Outer Mongolia will not reach you for a couple of months if you are far enough away, Mars perhaps. But then you could always move to Argentina with the Pope, or to Venezuela with Juan Guaido….there will be plenty of your buddies there, maybe Angus will finally find something other than water and derision?

      Just in case you get lost:

      https://cdn11.bigcommerce.com/s-h98e3jtz/images/stencil/2048×2048/products/705/1562/Argentinas-sedimentary-basins__30236.1501490010.jpg?c=2

      Have fun.

  3. Argentina is off limits – I worked in the Falklands so am black listed. Also worked in Colombia and French Guiana but not Venezuela. If you know anything about the oil industry in Venezuela you will know that there are very few foreign companies (if any) working there due to the first class politics there. Plenty of oil but no aspirins or paracetemol or food or……..

    Not sure what this has to do with Ellesmere Port in Cheshire but it is often difficult to follow your line of thought – especially on Sundays.

    Don’t worry about my internet speed – I have 1gbs up / 1gbs down.

    • I find you equally impenetrable Paul, more so on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, etc etc…The Mongolia map for example, and very selective with what you dont want to reply to. I prefer more of a mental and physical agility, to plodding same old. You guys appear to want to play word games, but return to this bitterness all too quickly.

      Such a shame, just no fun.

      Never mind.

      My original comment was all about Ellesmere Port Paul. Didnt you notice? No, i expect not.

      And speaking of Ellesmere Port, why should anyone obey any regulation that has no penalties? And when it is self regulation and the EA is totally underfunded and understaffed and seconded to working on brexit, why should any operator obey any regulation at all if not only are there no penalties, but no one can afford the time or staff or finance to check up on them in the first place?

      A recipe for disaster isnt it.

      Perhaps it is more significant, to coin a word, that these inquiries reveal just how little actual real regulatory teeth are of any practical use whatsoever.

  4. Paul, why do you say that “Cuadrilla wanted only one location ……”? When they Appealed against the Roseacre Wood decision, they had already secured the Preston New Road site. They could have pulled out of the Roseacre debacle before the appeal hearing.

    Looking at AJ Lucas’ half yearly accounts, one assumes that they do not have cash to burn (or chuck down a hole). Nor do Centrica for that matter. Their decision, their money. As for anti’s ‘not winning’, the fact that after 10 years there is still no shale gas industry in UK speaks volumes.

    Energy security? Where is all this shale gas? Where are the 64,000 jobs?

    Have a nice day.

    • Geoff – let’s face it – with people like you Cuadrilla will never do anything right will they? If they had fracked a year after Preese Hall then you would have complained. Instead, they conducted a through investigation into the subsurface and brought in new completion techniques to reduce risks even further and now your whining that they’re too slow. It took many years for shale gas development to kick off in the USA and that was with some of the most lax regulations in the world and a population that was wanting them to drill on their land. So it’s not exactly surprising things are slightly slower in a nation of NIMBYs like the UK

    • The SOS granted PNR and led Cuadrilla to believe he would support Roseacre. I was told Cuadrilla only wanted one location, PNR, very early on in the planning process. Roseacre was the throwaway location. Obviously they would have accepted planning permission on RA but they didn’t expecrt it nor did they envisage working on it.

      • The site Cuadrilla desperately needed was Roseacre. In order to ‘spread their wings’, without which the industry fails, they need to prove they could get a site in a rural setting with difficult access as much of the Fylde is set out this way. That has not happened. Their NW-SE orientation layout for the Fylde is now in serious doubt.

          • Perhaps they like to fill the less ITK pro mouthpieces with false information so they can spread disinformation in the wider public. Feeling duped yet? I would guess it is not a nice feeling that you may be being used as a useful idiot ( I personally wouldn’t know)

            • Feeling duped about what Crembrule? Makes no difference to me what happens to Cuadrilla. It might have done as I was asked about taking on the Drilling Manager role. I’ve always said that there won’t be a shale development in the Fylde for planning reasons – not sub surface.

              You are right about ITK – I have no idea how to build any widgets never mind mega widgets…..

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itk

              I assume you know that crembrule is finished off with a butane torch? A bit ironic?

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