The South Yorkshire MP, Sir Kevin Barron, has joined a residents’ campaign against Ineos plans to explore for shale gas in the village of Woodsetts.
The community group, Woodsetts Against Fracking, launched its “#I am Woodsetts” campaign this afternoon, on the eve of the public inquiry into the Ineos drilling scheme.
Residents have been urged to post a short video about what shale exploration would mean to them.
Sir Kevin has been the Labour MP for Rother Valley, which includes Woodsetts, since 1983. In his video, he said he opposed fracking for shale gas, particularly in former mining areas, and supported Woodsetts in its campaign against Ineos.
“There are so many unanswered questions about this. It is so not wanted in communities like this. I think it should be stopped. They [Ineos] have not given any good evidence.”
Sir Kevin said he was particularly concerned about calls by shale gas companies, including Ineos, to relax the regulations covering earth tremors induced by fracking. He said the government had not thought through who would compensate homeowners if properties were damaged by earth movements.
“We don’t want the disturbance that fracking makes. I think there is little gain and if compensation has to be paid there will be absolutely no gain if fracking takes place in constituencies like this.
“There’s very little for us from fracking and I’m against it.”
The inquiry, due to last for eight days, opens in Rotherham tomorrow morning (11 June 2019).
It will hear evidence from Ineos, Rotherham Borough Council, which turned down the scheme twice last year, and Woodsetts Against Fracking.
Ineos is seeking permission to drill an exploration well and carry out a transient pressure test. It has not applied to frack the well at this stage. The company recently proposed to install a 3m acoustic screen alongside the access road, close to a group of sheltered bungalows for elderly and vulnerable people.
Rotherham Borough Council is opposing the exploration scheme on the grounds of noise and the impact on the residents of the sheltered housing. It said the acoustic screen may need its own planning permission and could breach planning rules in the greenbelt.
Woodsetts Against Fracking has crowd-funded to participate in the inquiry and has been granted Rule 6 status. This means it has the right to call and cross-examine witnesses.
The group is also opposing the scheme because of noise, as well as the impact on landscape, traffic, highway safety and the quality of life of local people.
Richard Scholey, a life-long resident of Woodsetts, said in his video this afternoon:
“We’ll be fighting Ineos’s plans with everything we’ve got.
“The reason we’ll be fight is because Ineos chose this site and when they did they took a conscious decision to put some our most vulnerable elderly and poorly people right on the front line.
“That’s because the site is approximate to some sheltered housing in which those vulnerable people live.
“So they’re going to be exposed to the HGV traffic, the emissions, the noise, lighting, the loss of view, the theft of our public rights of way for a period of five years or more.
Mr Scholey, who is expected to give evidence at the inquiry, said:
“We are fighting because we are Woodsetts and I’ll be fighting because I am Woodsetts.”
- The inquiry opens at 10am on Tuesday 11 June at Riverside House, High Street, Rotherham S60 1AD. Opponents of the Ineos scheme are expected to gather outside the inquiry at about 9am.
DrillOrDrop will be reporting live news updates from the inquiry. This has been made possible by donations from individual DrillOrDrop readers.
For background and key facts on the hearing click on our Woodsetts inquiry page. Throughout the inquiry, we’ll be posting headlines and links to reports from each day.