Regulation

Officials back mine gas scheme near historic gardens

Rufford Hills Farm

Location of proposed coal mine methane well site at Rufford Hills Farm, Nottinghamshire. Aerial photo: @Infoterra Ltd & Bluesky, Getmapping plc

Nottinghamshire planners are supporting proposals to drill for gas from an abandoned colliery near Rufford Abbey.

The scheme, by Infinis, will be discussed by county councillors at a meeting next week.

The company, which bought out Alkane Energy in 2018, wants to extract coal mine methane (CMM) for 25 years from the former Ollerton Colliery. The gas would be used to generate electricity for the grid.

The site, on farmland, is 190m from Rufford Abbey, a grade 2 registered park and garden and local wildlife site. The Sherwood Forest Center Parcs is 2.5km away.

A report to Nottinghamshire’s planning and development control committee has recommended approval of the application.

There were no objections from Newark and Sherwood District Council, county council departments, the Environment Agency, Natural England or Highways England.

Nottinghamshire’s archaeology said the cumulative impact of developments near the Rufford estate was “beginning to erode the character of the area”.

It added:

“Only if there is clear public benefit arising from the proposal should the application be consented.”

The county council’s built-heritage expert said any public benefits should be “clearly discernible, substantial and robust”.

The county council’s ecologist said a small woodland should be planted on the site perimeter. But the company is reluctant to do this because the landowner wants to use the site for farming in future.

Rufford Parish Council has opposed the scheme. It said the proposed new access track (marked below in red and yellow) was unnecessary because there were two alternatives.

Rufford Hills Farm plan

Proposed access track (red and yellow) and site compound (red). Underground mine workings are marked in purple. Source: Baker Barnett for planning application to Nottinghamshire County Council

The scheme, if approved, would use a 35m rig to drill the borehole. A 7.5m flue stack would be installed during the testing phase. During production, the site would be unstaffed and managed remotely.

Planners acknowledged there would be a moderate adverse effect on the landscape. The proposal would “introduce a form and character of commercial development to the rural landscape”, they said.

They also said the proposal may not directly lead to any permanent increase in employment. But they added that “great weight” should be given to associated economic benefits from the development

They also said the recovery of mine gas would “not be incompatible with climate change objectives during a transition period”.

They concluded:

“Whilst due weight is afforded to the protection of heritage assets, the public benefits resulting from the generation of electricity and associated business rates are considered clearly sufficient to outweigh the identified heritage and associated landscape impacts in this case.”

Infinis operates similar facilities at former colliery sites in Nottinghamshire at Bevercotes, Bilsthorpe, Gedling, Kings Mill, Mansfield and Warsop. The company says it generated an annual total of 44MW of electricity from CMM sites.

  • The planning meeting is at 10.30am on Tuesday 23 April 2019 at County Hall, West Bridgford, Nottingham NG2 7QP. Details

Key points of application

Information based on report to Nottinghamshire County Council planning and licensing committee

Address: Rufford Hills Farm, Rufford Lane, Rufford Nottinghamshire NG22 9DQ

Application: 3/18/00756/CMA to drill and test a borehole including flaring, erect containerised units and associated plant and equipment, new access track, extract mine gas, generate electricity and ancillary operations.

Applicant: Infinis

Location: Nearest villages are Rufford and Wellow. Ollerton is 1.5km to the north

Site area: Total size is 1.6ha, of which 0.75ha would be the well compound

Source of methane: Ollerton colliery

Phases of the operation

Phase 1: Site construction – 14-16 weeks

Construction of access, bellmouth, borehole compound. Working hours: 7am-6pm Monday-Friday; 7am-1pm Saturdays; no Sunday or Bank Holiday working. Drilling: up to 3 weeks, 24-hours a day, with a 35m rig. The borehole will be deviated to reach target.

Phase 2: Borehole evaluation and gas testing – 2-3 weeks

Testing of gas volumes and site viability. Will include occasional flaring.

Phase 3: Installation and commissioning of electricity generation plant – 14-18 weeks

Installation of up to two containerised combustion gas engines, each able to generate up to 1.6MW of electrical power. The site would also contain a pump unit and four or five smaller cabins. The site surface would be covered with stone chippings and surrounded by 2.4m high welded mesh security fencing.

Phase 4: Electricity generation – 25 years

Electricity would be exported by a proposed buried cable down the access track to Rufford Lane. The site would be operated remotely. A welfare unit would be provided for occasional visits by engineers.

Phase 5: Site restoration

Borehole plugged and abandoned when the gas is exhausted or not commercially viable.

Traffic

  • Construction of bell mouth entrance: 6 heavy goods vehicle (HGV) movements over 3-4 weeks
  • Construction of stone access track: 284 HGV movements over 3-4 weeks, approximately 20 movements per day
  • Construction of borehole platform/compound: 386 HGV movements over 3 weeks, approximately 26 movements per day
  • Testing phase: 4 HGV movements and 2-4 light vehicle movements per day
  • Installation of electricity generation plant: Up to 10 HGV movements/day and up to 20 light vehicle movements for 8-12 weeks
  • Restoration, plugging and abandonment: Vehicle movements similar to phase 1

17 replies »

  1. Global climate destruction is the reason why absolutely NO fossil fuel extraction applications should be approved anywhere!
    Humanity will be in hazard otherwise or do you disagree with the amazing climate change activists of Extinction Rebellion and the young people who are standing up for their beliefs throughout Europe and beyond?
    Anyway here in England it looks like the Tories have lost the plot, Labour are well ahead in the polls so maybe the politicians will save us after all, Brexit or no Brexit!

    • Peter: Young people who have yet to find a job and contribute to societies needs? Oil operators are standing up for their beliefs, employment, tax, regulation is that so wrong?,

      • Eli-Goth,
        Once again you point the finger at the wrong people!

        Young people have parents who have contributed their share into Society and have their children’s future at heart. Oil and gas companies and their shareholders are interested only in short term financial gain, not longer term environmental sustainability.
        Anyway the Judiciary are at last coming to the point of view that humankind’s sustainability is of more importance than commercial sensitivity and that defending the environment is a greater good than any minor inconvenience caused.

        Why are you even posting on this site, you’re not paid to do it by any chance?

        • Why are you Peter? You seem to have a continuing “tick” with regard to financial support. Maybe some guilt there? Or, you find it difficult to respond so try and claim moral superiority.

          I am sure you are a moral sort of guy, but you do yourself no favours by speculating about things you have no proof for. Some may believe that is a habit within other parts of your posting.

  2. For those who think that this is about a problem free area, then link into the “Coal Authority Interactive Map” On the top left hand side add the words “Rufford Notts” into the block provided. Then at the top right hand side click into Coal Mining Date and then tick catergories such as Seam Level, Works Date, Seam Level Contour, Probable Working and Underground Working and see if these indicate whether the application should or should not be approved.`

      • hewes62. Under fracking operations gas is not normally collected from a vertical operation, but horizontally from a vertically acquired starting point. Does the Coal Authority Interactive Map (used as I suggest) fill you with satisfaction if it to be worked underground by fracking techniques ?

        • Harry Barnes, the application has nothing to do with fracking. The company concerned already operates similar facilities at former colliery sites in Nottinghamshire at Bevercotes, Bilsthorpe, Gedling, Kings Mill, Mansfield and Warsop.

        • Harry
          As noted by John Harrison…this is a simple borehole into the old workings.
          It harvests the methane available due to the fracturing caused by old longwall mining. The stuff that used to just go up the upcast shaft.
          So, no fracking, and a very simple technique.

    • Dorkian

      Nothing … Ollerton colliery closed in 1994.

      The Ollerton Eartquakes were due to workings by Thoresby Colliery.

      However, they had to remove a few square miles of coal 6 feet thick to get the effect, so a single borehole removing 0.0000000001% of that amount of rock on its travails will not cause an issue.

  3. If there is enough gas down there for that timescale of production better remove it quickly before it migrates into some water. Precautionary principle I think it is termed. Lot of agricultural irrigation needed in that area. Can’t have the spuds contaminated with polluted water.

    Infinis already operating a number of similar sites in the area.

    Err, yes Peter I disagree with the amazed Robin-as did Adam Boulton, who amazed him. This crowd are not seriously looking to modify climate change otherwise they would not have set such ludicrous targets. That is becoming apparent to the public, and the many who would like to see progress that is realistic and measured will react accordingly. (Boris will be smiling re his water cannon about to be (probably) re-appraised by the media!)

    • Martin

      Yes, the irrigation systems were working well today ( including those serving the large turf farms ) but getting the water from the ditches and water courses.

      We wait for rain … some expected next week. As per usual.

  4. As an anti fracker I have no problem with extraction of coal mine methane in principle. If left, such methane will naturally seep out to the surface anyway. And, as methane is both explosive and a powerful greenhouse gas, we don’t want that to happen. Better to pull it off and use it. That way we can leave the shale gas in the ground and import a little less gas from Qatar..
    But of course a priority should be to insulate the UK housing stock,and switch rapidly to renewable energy and energy storage.

  5. Ahh, David, my house is fully insulated and I enjoy an air sourced heat pump.

    But, I also use gas and oil. I simply prefer that my gas and oil are UK produced (if possible) and tax is collected from that to help others with enjoying such things as renewable energy if they are not so well off. After all, with one off-shore wind farm adding a premium of £500m PER YEAR to bills, every bit of tax contribution from industry would be welcome to help those who find such may lead them into fuel poverty if they have to accept all that load. Unfortunately neither Qatar, Norway or USA offer UK aid from the tax they take on the stuff they sell us.

    But, to cheer everyone up just noticed the first swallows from outside my window. Nice to see they have found their way around the bird mincers.

  6. If I remember rightly this form of Gas extraction was supported by the Green movement, certainly a few years ago, for the reasons expressed by Harry above, that is the gas is already there as a legacy of mine workings and will eventually flow to the surface anyway, so this is one case in which gas extraction actually contributes to reducing methane emissions.

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