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.”
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 Katharine Peerless.