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”.
“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.
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”.
“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.
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.
- 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