Village crowdfunds to fight shale gas plans by the UK’s richest man

180907 Woodsetts DoD4

Campaigners outside Rotherham Town Hall after the council’s planning board refuses permission for a second time for shale gas exploration in Woodsetts, 7 September 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Residents in a south Yorkshire village are raising money to oppose shale gas exploration proposals by Ineos, largely owned by the UK’s richest man, the billionaire Jim Ratcliffe.

Ineos’s plans to drill on the edge of Woodsetts are due to be examined at a public inquiry in June. This follows two refusals of planning permission by Rotherham Borough Council in March and September 2018.

The campaign group, Woodsetts Against Fracking, is trying to raise £10,000 to employ a barrister and expert witnesses to represent it at the inquiry. At the time of writing, it had raised £780.

The group has been granted Rule 6 status, which means it can present evidence and cross-examine witnesses at the inquiry, alongside the council and Ineos.

The group said more than 90% of the people in Woodsett opposed Ineos’s proposals and less than 1% supported. It said:

“A small community faces a large corporation and its multi billion-pound owner at a public inquiry.

“This is a key case – the tide is turning against fracking and a refusal at this public inquiry will be hugely damaging to the fracking industry.”

The group said:

“Initially, we are raising £10,000 to cover the costs of our legal representation – essential at this level. If we can achieve another £2,000 then we can secure high-level legal representation throughout the inquiry.”

171025 Woodsetts houses

Proposed site for Ineos Upstream shale gas well on the edge of Woodsetts village in south Yorkshire, 25 October 2017. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The group has instructed barrister Jack Parker, who represented Roseacre Awareness Group at the 2016 inquiry into Cuadrilla’s fracking plans for Lancashire. He also represented North Yorkshire residents at hearings on the region’s mineral and waste plan.

Experts on planning, transport and noise are also lined up to give technical evidence for the group. Villagers will make the case that the proposals will have an adverse impact on public rights of way and on people living in sheltered housing in Berne Square.

Rotherham Borough Council will give evidence to the inquiry on impacts on local amenity and noise but it has dropped its objection on highway safety grounds. (DrillOrDrop report)

Ineos Upstream, which appealed against the refusal of planning permission, will also call expert witnesses. The company is part of Ineos Industries, largely owned by Jim Ratcliffe. He topped the most recent Sunday Times rich list with an estimated net worth of £21.05 billion.

The inquiry opens at 10am on Tuesday 11 June 2019 at The Gallery, Riverside House, Main Street, Rotherham. It is expected to sit for eight days. The planning inspector is Katie Peerless.

Crowdjustice website for Woodsetts Against Fracking

DrillOrDrop key facts and timeline for the proposed Ineos site at Woodsetts

16 replies »

    • Yes, well done RCC for dropping objections on highway safety grounds. Should make the whole appeal quicker and cheaper.

    • Aura Hazel: What Sir Jim has done is not illegal. If you could i’m sure it maybe on your mind to do the same?

      • This comment says everything about the moral gulf between supporters of fracking and those who oppose it. Sinking Wells and morally sinking to new depths.

        • What’s morally wrong about wanting a source of low carbon gas to replace winter imports from morally upright countries like Qatar. I think by “moral gulf” you just mean you disagree with it. In my humble opinion it is morally wrong not to consider the risks of electricity shortage to the elderly and frail on windless nights in February if we turn to an increasing reliance on renewables.

          • My comment was in response to the post that seems to suggest we are all motivated by money and would follow Jim Ratcliffe’s example by trampling over the environment to become obscenely rich, before dashing off to Monaco to ensure much of that money can saved from going back into UK taxes to assist those damaged by his companies activities. We certainly aren’t all the same, as the post suggests. And there, in my opinion, is the problem with the oil and gas industry in general; morals lower than a fracking drill bit that’s just hit the Bowland Shale.

          • As a member of the elderly frail group that you highlight, I would rather put on an extra jumper and blanket than support the destruction of the environment and risk my grandchildren’s future.

  1. English folk, fighting the effects of 10 years of Tory austerity, fighting the relentless ongoing depression of Brexit, soon to be fighting for survival in a post Brexit Britain and now having to fight the destruction of their local patch.

    • At this point (having fought Brexit tooth and claw) am resigned to life after – and challenged, and almost excited. Yes a small island again in the North Sea, without pretensions at last, poorer OK, but willing to be looking after our own better, inventing shit once more, learning real indépendance, accepting the dependency of responsibility for our fellow creatures ( the near ones especially!), AND without shale gas. No?

  2. Crude Oil prices rising towards $80 which will mean pump prices eventually close to 150p. Labour councils refusing to support job creation in their area. All for the sake of green virtue signalling.

    Let’s get real, China & India’s 2 billion people are growing out of poverty at 6% a year which will inevitably increase the demand for fossil fuels until a method is found to store renewable energy economically. In that context refusing to harvest our own onshore resources is just madness.

    The key words for our energy future are GREEN, CHEAP & RELIABLE, please do not forget the latter two words when thinking about solutions otherwise we end up with fuel poverty and winter blackouts.

    • I don’t understand this last post. The second paragraph seems to be pro-fracking then the last seems to contradict it. Can you clarify the conclusion?

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