“Great Wall of Ineos blocks Woodsetts views”

1904 Woodsetts WAF4

Access track to proposed Ineos shale gas site at Woodsetts. New proposals show the track lined by a 3m high, 100+m long noise barrier. Photo: Woodsetts Against Fracking

New proposals by Ineos have emerged for a 3m high noise barrier running for more than 100m alongside its site earmarked for shale gas exploration in the south Yorkshire green belt.

190530 Woodsetts acoustic screen

3m high fence – the height of the proposed Ineos sound barrier. Photo: Woodsetts Against Fracking

Residents in the village of Woodsetts have described the barrier as the “Great Wall of Ineos” and complained that it would “fence them in”.

The barrier was not part of the original planning application for the Woodsetts site, which was turned down twice by Rotherham Borough Council in March and September 2018

But it appeared in Ineos documents, published earlier this month, which are part of the company’s appeal case to a public inquiry starting on 11 June 2019.

Rotherham Council, which is defending its planning refusal at the inquiry, said the barrier would need its own planning application and would breach green belt and local planning policy.

The campaign group, Woodsetts Against Fracking, which is also represented at the inquiry, said people would feel imprisoned by the barrier.

This is the second time that Ineos has made changes to shale gas proposals between the refusal of planning permission and the start of a public inquiry. Last year, four weeks before the hearing on its Harthill scheme, the company introduced 17 additional passing places and dropped a one-way system as part of its traffic management plan.

“3m noise barrier will reduce views”

In his submission to the Woodsetts inquiry, Ineos’s planning consultant, Matthew Sheppard, described the barrier as “additional noise mitigation” which had resulted from the “ongoing discussions about potential noise impacts during construction”.

He said:

“The now proposed 3m noise barrier will assist with reducing views, particularly from ground floor rooms. It is likely that the drill rig and mast will be seen at night from those properties with reduced hedges and upper storeys.”

But Rotherham Council’s planning officer, Anthony Lowe, complained there had been no details of an acoustic barrier in the original application and nothing was shown on the submitted plans.

He said:

“a 3m high noise barrier would need planning permission in its own right and should be considered during determination of the planning application, rather than being imposed as a future condition.

“the Council has not received any formal notification of this proposed mitigation during the determination of the planning application, during the post determination period until the submission of the appeal, or in the earlier part of this appeal phase.”

Mr Lowe said the company had not given any specifications, detailed site plans, elevations or photo montages to show the exact location and design of the proposed barrier. There was also no indication, he said, of how long the barrier would be in place.

“It is not clear whether this would just be during for the setting up of the site, up to 5 days [evidence from the company’s noise consultant] or for a longer period during the construction and drilling phase, potentially 8 months.”

The barrier is shown on an Ineos plan (see above) alongside a field track and then a bridleway, which runs from Dinnington Road towards a local landmark of a holly bush and memorial bench. The plan says “noise fence to extend min 100m past the existing buildings”, thought to refer to nearby sheltered bungalows for elderly and vulnerable people.

190502 Woodsetts DoD9

View from the bridleway over the proposed shale gas site at Woodsetts. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Currently, the bridleway and the bungalows look out over open fields.

Mr Lowe added:

“the Council has not had the opportunity to consult on this aspect either with the local community or with its Landscape and Rights of Way Officers.”

He said a barrier above 2m high in the green belt would not comply with local or national planning policy:

“I note that an application has recently been refused in May 2019 on an unrelated site for a 2.4m high fence due to the adverse visual impact on the openness of the Green Belt.”

The council’s noise consultant, Andrew Lockwood, said even with the barrier in place, the predicted daytime noise levels from the site were likely to be up to 3-4 decibels higher than the British Standard limit for construction.

“Ineos has created another problem”

Richard Scholey, of Woodsetts Against Fracking, said:

“This barrier is an indication that Ineos cannot achieve suitable noise levels and prevent an unacceptable impact on vulnerable residents. If the company could do this, why would it introduce a noise barrier at this stage?

“It will be a 3m solid fence. People in the sheltered housing will lose most of their view. They will just be able to make out the tops of trees.

“In trying to solve one problem, Ineos has managed to create another with the landscape and visual amenity.

Mr Scholey said the documents first appeared in Ineos proofs of evidence to the inquiry:

“The noise barrier never appeared on any application plan. It turned up without any discussion. We had no time to consider it properly. This gives a lie to the idea that Ineos wants to be good neighbours.

“They are fencing us in. it will be like a prison to the rest of the village.”

The Ineos appeal documents also show changes to the design of the proposed entrance. Security gates are now drawn further along the access track.

Woodsetts original entrance

Original plan for the site entrance and access track. Source: Ineos plan accompanying planning application

DrillOrDrop invited Ineos to comment on the issues raised by Rotherham Council and Woodsetts Against Fracking. This article will be updated with any response from the company.

  • The inquiry opens at 10am on Tuesday 11 June at Riverside House, Main Street, Rotherham S60 1AE. A protest is expected outside the inquiry from about 9am. DrillOrDrop will be reporting live updates from the hearings, which are expected to last for eight days.

52 replies »

  1. No John. The Government are too busy spending £500M extra per year on ONE off shore wind site after agreeing a stupid contract. Only so much money that can be frittered away and reflected on energy bills before the mortality rate from energy poverty rises even further.

    Strange, I thought some wanted local on shore turbines removed (Lake District), and many more were against them being installed in the first place (East Yorkshire). Besides which, where would the millions of new trees go?

  2. Phil C

    I disagree that this is a remote location. Maybe somewhere in the highlands Miles from any town would be remote, but in a well populated commuter area is not that. So, I am not sure why you apply that description to the site.

    Then I disagreed that they may have located the site ( in a well populated semi urban area in my mind … remote rural in yours ) to avoid protest. I thought it would be for other reasons as noted.

    I have not commented on the suitability of the site, just reasons why it may be as it is. One being that you need to drill in the PEDL and where the oil and gas is.

    But given your comments, full marks to the Harthill site, which is well away from the village, and to Wressle and Biscathorpe which are somewhat more remote.

    But I sense that no matter where any oil or gas well is drilled ( middle of a city, middle of nowhere ) if one does not agree with such developments, then no site will escape approbrium.

    • The ineos proposals at Woodsetts are indeed in a remote rural location and the entire site is on an agricultural field in a green belt which should by rights automatically dismiss such a proposal and the route and location of the additional access road proposals are objectionable and intrusive and the so called noise barrier are clearly also entirely wrong and poorly if not deliberately provocative and serves only to condemn the entire development.

      But I sense that no matter where any oil or gas well is proposed to be drilled in a remote rural agricultural location that is totally unsuitable for an industrial development if one agrees with such developments, then any such site will escape suitable and necessary examination and approbrium and therefore ignores any suggestions to make them more acceptable for impact to local residents.

      However we are not in the least surprised considering the continued overbearing arrogance and uncaring action and overbearing attitude of fossil fuel operators in the UK.

      • Incidentally I just checked approbrium, which my dictionary spells as “opprobrium”

        It’s not a word we see overly much on Drill or Drop, but it’s worth remembering the spelling for the future isn’t it.


        harsh criticism or censure.
        “the critical opprobrium generated by his films”
        vilification · abuse · vituperation · [More]
        public disgrace arising from shameful conduct.
        “the opprobrium of being closely associated with gangsters”
        disgrace · shame · dishonour –
        an occasion or cause of reproach or disgrace.

        Maybe we will see “opprobrium” more in future? Stranger things have happened?

        But cheers anyway.

        • Phil C


          10 letters and seems spelt right here on DOD . Maybe I spelt it wrong and it has been auto corrected when posted, but …..stare at it as I may, my spelling is the same as that in the dictionary.


      • Phil C
        I see we disagree on what is a remote, rural location.

        Remote ( looking in the dictionary ). .. Located far away …hidden…secluded.

        Woodsetts does not fit that description, nor does the drilling site it seems.

        Perhaps if the site were remote it would help ( including the access ), but then as for Harthill, being remote does not help it seems.

        I guess we should leave it as that

        • I welcome your opinion hews62, as i am sure you welcome mine.

          The definition of remote and rural is relative though isn’t it, as in remote and rural in relative to what? The middle of a busy city? The Australian outback? A field relative to a housing development? A mountain peak relative to a small room? Such things are purely subjective aren’t they, and hence relative to what the local residents think of their present situation in relation to the one that ineos have planned for them to be subjective about?

          Not so simple is it?

          And yes, as is becoming increasingly apparent, as usual, we should leave it at that.

          • PS, your ad blocker seems to be letting one of those intrusive ineos ads in before i could press “skip ad”?

            Never mind, i ignore them anyway.

      • Phil C

        My friends in Scotland feel that the above comment is well written, other than the need to change INEOS to ‘wind farm developer’, oil and gas to ‘wind farm’ and fossil fuel operators in the UK, to ‘Wind Farm developers in Scotland’. Then they would fully agree with it other than that the noise will be with them in perpetuity while ever the wind blows. Though how they can hear them on a windy day is of interest to me.

        So yes, opinions can vary on such issues for sure.

          • Phil C

            There is a moratorium. But it seems that wind farm developers have put a few peoples backs up.

            I am not sure why, as bulldozing sheep raddled hillsides with roads, followed by the insertion of steel piles, concrete pads, steel..plastic and metal devices and so on is good for us all. They just fail to grasp the fact that local energy means .. well … having it on your doorstep, and, as they live in a remote ( really remote in this case ) area, few are affected.

            I guess, the wind farm developers cynically put the farms in remote agricultural locations, expecting less protest?

            But maybe they put them where the wind blows ( frequently and at a higher velocity ) than popping them in the middle of Glasgow, say. And .. close to the border, nearer the market in England, where local protest has stymied development on windy hillsides.

            I am confident that wind farm construction will onshore in Scotland, and when it comes back to England the Nimbies will polish off their wind farm here today, tomorrow or ever…signs and have a few new tricks up their sleeve to delay installation. Hopefully the police will be suitable seasoned to prevent such illegal activity.

            • I see you are still tilting at windmills hewes62’s?

              And you have descended into the tired old frackspeak, or is that frackist? With silly insults rather than any rational discussion.

              As with your comment below, if you want to discuss issues like an adult, then fine, but I am afraid that as soon as you descend to these self defeating depths to make these virtueless signalling remarks, then as before, you are on your own.

              Shame, but no surprise.

  3. Interesting!?

    My local new build housing development is on what was an agricultural field. “Strange” that development happens where development is required, in some cases because of demand in other cases because of geology. In respect of oil and gas try a visit to Wytch Farm, surrounded by some expensive houses, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and lovely countryside. All done in “the best possible taste” and operating as good neighbours.

    Or, geothermal slap bang in the middle of Southampton surrounded by retail units.

    Oh, another $2 billion investment announced by INEOS today. Seems they know what they are doing. Maybe the South of France coming into some focus now?

    • Martin

      Jim is just following in the footsteps of ARAMCO in looking at petrochemicals as a means of diversifying away from straight forward burning of the stuff in engines or turbines.

      Maybe a step to leave the UK eventually, meaning that rather than importing 66% of our plastic feedstock we could import 100%. Leaving us to rely more on arms deals to square the books, but I doubt it.

      One other idea floating around the investor sphere is that Trump will soon need to ( or is likely to ) bail out most American frackers in order to keep up the flow of oil, and the clout that brings. Just a small % of that required to bail out sub prime mortgages and banks it seems. One to revisit in Jan 2020 no doubt.

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