Regulation

Live news updates: Day 1 of inquiry into Ineos shale gas plans at Woodsetts

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Aerial photo of the proposed Ineos shale gas site at Woodsetts (brown field on left of bridleway). Photo: Woodsetts Against Fracking

This post has live news updates from the opening of the public inquiry into Ineos Upstream’s shale gas plans in the South Yorkshire village of Woodsetts.

The company is seeking permission to drill a shale gas well and carry out a transient pressure test. It is not currently applying to frack the well.

The inquiry, in Rotherham, is expected to last eight days. The inspector, Katie Peerless, will hear from representatives of Ineos, the borough council which turned down the application twice, and the residents’ group, Woodsetts Against Fracking.

Our Woodsetts inquiry page  has background, headlines and links to daily reports. Our Woodsetts timeline page has links to articles about the site.

Reporting at this inquiry has been made possible by donations from individual DrillOrDrop readers


Key points from day 1

  • Ineos caused consternation in Woodsetts when announced a 3m acoustic barrier running 250m in the weeks before the inquiry
  • The fence would create a sense of enclosure, campaign group says, and would need its own planning application
  • Even with the barrier, Ineos could not meet noise limits, council says
  • Ineos indicated last night that the acoustic fence may not be needed
  • Site noise would have a significant adverse impact on residents, says council, and threaten sleep disturbance
  • Site route is not safe or suitable, inquiry told
  • Ineos says the scheme is not about fracking and anti-fracking campaigners are “in the wrong place”
  • The shale gas scheme is for a very limited period, he says, and is entirely reversible, Ineos says.
  • Complaints to the inspector that residents have not been consulted on the noise barrier
  • Ineos accused of failing to communicate with people in Woodsetts
  • Resident says the site is opposed by villagers, parish council, Rotherham council and the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner
  • Proposed bellmouth is the front drive of a Woodsetts resident, inquiry told
  • CPRE calls for the inquiry to be adjourned until people have time to see the latest evidence from Ineos – the inspector says no
  • Complaints that poor sound quality in the inquiry room is preventing some people from participating in the hearing

5pm Inquiry adjourns

The inquiry resumes at 9.30am with traffic evidence from Ineos’s witness.

3.26pm Woodsetts Against Fracking evidence – traffic

Jack Parker, barrister for Woodsetts Against Fracking, introduces Gerald Kells, the group’s transport witness.

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Gerald Kells (left) with the inquiry inspector, 11 June 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Planning policy

Mr Kells says the Ineos shale gas proposals fails to meet transport requirements in national and local policy.

They would generate a significant amount of additional HGV traffic, particularly larger OGV2 vehicles, which could not be safely accommodated. This impact would be ‘severe’ and the Appellant’s mitigation would not resolve the issue, even if future activity did not lead to longer-term traffic impacts.

Mr Kells says the National Planning Policy Framework requires developments to provide a “safe and suitable” access for all users. Proposals should not be “unacceptable on highway safety grounds”, he adds.

“Unacceptable impact”

My proof seeks to show that the impact on traffic will be significant and unacceptable, Mr Kells says.

He says the Ineos traffic assessment has not considered changes to a nearby traffic island and housing and industrial developments. If you increase the volume of traffic at a junction, the risk of accidents and harm changes, he says.

The most risk will always be when developments are at a maximum, he says.

Heavy goods vehicles

The proposal will generate a large increase in large HGVs on Woodsetts Lane and through Woodsetts Village, Mr Kells says.

Detailed consideration should be given to the implications of the HGV increase on all users.

The Ineos expert says the maximum daily increase in HGVs is not significant.

Mr Kells says:

“I do not agree that the impact of additional HGVs would be ‘minimal’ in terms of safety and severance in the village. A cautious approach should be taken to pedestrian safety, especially where usage has not been surveyed by the appellant.”

He says there would be 60 of the biggest heavy goods vehicles, compared with 20 now. That is a significant increase, he says.

On one section of the route, the increased number of the HGVs would also be carrying out a difficult manoeuvre, he says.

“The daily maximum number are not conditioned so could be higher than 60, for example, due to programme delay or if more water needs to be tankered off.

“Convoying is assumed but may not happen, particularly when there are less HGVs. Convoying concentrates access by HGVs but can increase traffic disruption and carries its own safety risks.”

Road widths

Mr Kells says Ineos has not provided comprehensive details of the width of unclassified roads on the route.

At two points the road is just over 5.5m. At several other places the carriageway is 6m or slightly less.  This is not adequate, Mr Kells says. A road of at least 6m is required to ensure two HGVs can pass safely, he adds.

Mr Kells says he is concerned about other factors, as well as width, on narrow sections of the route.

The Ineos expert has pointed to two appeal decisions which, he says, accepted that a 5.5m width was sufficient.

Mr Kells refutes this was the conclusion of the  inspector in one of the appeals on the Ineos shale gas site at Bramley Moor. The inspector accepted that 6m was sufficient and available for two HGVs to pass at low speed, he said.

Ineos also referred to the approval of permission at the Harthill inquiry. Mr Kells says the roads in the Harthill inquiry are not relevant because the roads were single lane and the route would be controlled by banksmen.

Mr Kells adds:

“Road width may be reduced further by parked vehicles. There is no assessment [by Ineos] of the risk of conflict with agricultural vehicles. The Appellant’s Swept Path Analysis show a large car passing in the opposite direction so cannot demonstrate an articulated lorry will not be in conflict with wider vehicles.

“At places an articulated lorry may, anyway, take a wider option, encroaching into the opposite lane.”

Mr Kells refers to sections of the lorry route where there is pooling water, sharp bends, lack of visibility, on-street parking and areas where there are no pavements. These problems remain despite recent road improvements, he adds.

Site entrance

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Revised plans for the Woodsetts site entrance and a noise barrier. Source: Ineos proof of evidence to the public inquiry

Mr Kells says:

The site entrance is approximately 49m beyond Woodsetts. There is a Public Bridleway on the same side at the village boundary. There are no proposals to widen the site entrance. A number of properties and a farm business would share access with development vehicles which raises a number of practical concerns both on the access way itself and on the Public Highway.

Accidents

Mr Kells says the five-year accident record on the unclassified roads of the traffic route shows a fatality in Woodsetts and a
serious accident involving a cyclist at the A57 Gateford Junction.

The 20-year accident record shows clustering on the Woodsetts Lane, particularly the z-curves, Owday Lane and at the A57 Gateford Junction.

He says pass accident statistics alone cannot predict future risks. Mr Kells says:

“Increasing HGVs could worsen the accident record because their width increases the risk of collisions.”

He adds:

“The Gateford Island cycle lane was introduced to encourage usage entering Woodsetts Road. It would be particularly susceptible to accidents involving additional HGVs.”

Horses

Mr Kells says Ineos does not have data on horse riders. He says:

“Recognised safety margins for vulnerable users would be difficult to achieve, especially where the road widths are less than 6m. Doing so might force HGVs onto the opposite carriageway.

“I cannot see how INEOS can minimise such risks, for example, if a group of horses meets a convoy coming in the opposite direction and has nowhere to go.”

Mitigation

Mr Kells says Ineos relies on a traffic management plan, signage and convoying.

“I cannot envisage other mitigation that would cost-effectively address the identified areas of concern. Moreover, the burden of proof for Breaches may fall on residents, with a time delay even if action was taken by the Council.”

Impact of noise barrier on access track

Mr Kells says the problems are likely to be worst where vehicles leave properties to join the track.

Because of the noise barrier, residents may not be able to see whether there is an agricultural vehicle on one section of the track.

Conclusion

Mr Kells concludes:

I do not consider the route to be ‘safe and suitable’ for the activity proposed. The impact would be severe because of:

  • the large increase in larger HGVs

  • a potential increase in personal injury accidents the inability of HGVs to safely pass opposing vehicles at several places

  • the impact on the safety and amenity of vulnerable users, particularly children

  • the potential for noise and vibration impacts f) the use of the route on Saturdays and in winter when it is dark

  • the impact on the cycling facilities at the Gatefold Junction.

  • I do not believe these problems can be cost-effectively mitigated.

Mr Kells says the appeal should be refused.


3.25pm Inquiry resumes


3.10pm Break

The inquiry adjourns until 3.25pm


3pm Statement from Nick Butler, opponent

Mr Butler says all the traffic has to come through the village. Who in their right mind would plan a development which takes all the traffic through a village?, he asks.

We are looking at 5000 vehicle movements, most HGV, over 7.5 tonnes. I don’t believe the village can cope with this volume of traffic. The road is 9m wide, he says.

Cyclists also use the lorry route, he says. There are 12 bends on the route, where you can’t see round the bend. It is a nightmare now, he says. Horse riders are a regular feature on the local roads, he says. An equestrian centre nearby was denied permission on the grounds of traffic, he says.

There is no pedestrian crossing in the village, he says, we have to chance it.

Berne Square, near the proposed site, also has the GP practice. To get there, people in neighbouring villages have to pass the site to see a document.

There are 11 bus stops on the lorry route, he says. 150 caravans are stored on a site on the route and are available every day.

There are about 120 houses that front onto Worksop Road, the route for lorries through the village. The access to one property would be through the bellmouth. They have access along the track to their home. There is no any other vehicle access. The bellmout is their front drive. How can you put an industrial facility on their front drive?

This site is an inappropriate a site as you can find. The residents know it, because they voted 1,000 against; the parish council knows it because it rejected it; Rotherham council knows it because it rejected it twice.

Mr Butler says the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner doesn’t want the scheme. This follows a visit to the village and having seen the site and the lorry route.

He calls on the Rotherham Council traffic officer to resign.


2.55pm Statement from Linda Sharpley, opponent

Ms Sharpley says she has lived in Woodsetts for five years. Her home is close to the junction of Dinnington Road.

She tells the inquiry she has stopped using the Dinnington Road junction because it is too dangerous. The application will make this worse.

She says pavements in the village will put pedestrians very close to traffic.

The well site would dominate every aspect of the village and there is nothing I could do to get away from it. It will have an effect of the physical and mental wellbeing of residents.

Greenbelt in south Yorkshire is precious and must be protected. She says she has lived in a mining village and knows the impact of industrialisation.


2.45pm Statement from Gareth Jones, opponent

Mr Jones is a resident of Woodsetts for nearly 30 years who lives near the proposed bellmouth.

He says he wants to talk about the lack of community liaison and information sharing by Ineos. The record is indicative of the company’s disregard of the people living in Woodsetts, he says.

Ineos’s introduction to the village was a High Court injunction with no warning. The parish council arranged a village meeting in summer 2017, at which the company and many residents attended. The village hall was so full people were listening through the window.

A community liaison group was suggested. Mr Jones says a group was formed and arranged a meeting in August 2017. Three representatives of the company attended. They said testing had already taken place in the village, without any warning.

A drop-in event in September 2017 was attended. This is the only event that Ineos has arranged. Villagers raised concerns which have gone unanswered.

Mr Jones asked Gordon Grant, the local Ineos representative, for information. Mr Grant acknowledged in October 2017 that Ineos needed to get into rhythm of sharing information.

The liaison group met again in October 2018. Gordon Grant promised to share the requested information. He was reminded again that month and asked for information about traffic. The information was then refused and Mr Jones was told to wait for the planning application.

We withdrew from the community liaison process. Promises had been broken. It was disrespect for the residents.

Since then, Ineos has done very little, Mr Jones says. The company contacted the parish council on a Friday about an archaeological survey to be carried out on the Monday. The company’s website on Woodsetts was last updated a year ago. No leaflets, no meetings, nothing to keep us informed, he says.

I think the applicant needs to be open and be meaningfully open. The evidence of Woodsetts indicates that Ineos is not willing to do that. He questions whether the company cannot be trusted to treat the environment with respect.


2.30pm Statement from Deborah Gibson, opponent

Ms Gibson is a resident of Harthill, which unsuccessfully opposed similar Ineos plans in Harthill, also in south Yorkshire.

She says she wants to address the vulnerability of people who have moved house to live in the peace and quiet of Berne Square.

These resident face specific risks to their health. This will be exacerbated by this application, she says.

The removal of the residents or the refusal of the application are the only measures that could be taken to address the physical and mental health of the residents of Berne Square.

The greater the access for nature and greenspace, the better it is for physical and mental health. The less the green surroundings, the greater the levels of morbidity. Walkable and visible greenspaces are necessary for physical and mental health.

Residents from Berne Square cannot walk to the next available public rights of way. Why should they because they were sold their current homes on the basis of peace and quiet.

Psychological distress can be brought about by environmental disruption, Ms Gibson says. Physical or mental predisposition is already present in the residents of Berne Square.

The people who live on Berne Square are called sensitive noise receptors in planning terms, Ms Gibson says. Residents on the square have post traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy (triggered by stress, light and vibration), and dementia, worsened by disruption. Residents also wear hearing aids.

A lack of power, through real and perceived lack of control, leads to stress and anxiety, Gibson says.  This appears unpredictable and out of control. It is stressful, anxiety-provoking and really bad for mental and physical health, she says.

There is enough planning law to refuse this application.


2.20pm Statement from Andy Tickle, CPRE, opponent

Mr Tickle says CPRE complains about the process of the inquiry.

Late on Wednesday, Ineos sent details about the acoustic fence, posted on 6 June. We have little opportunity to assess the impact of the acoustic fence, he says.

This proposed change to the application material alters the application, Mr Tickle says. The appeal process should not be used to evolve a scheme. The appeal should consider the application that was before the local mineral planning authority and on which people’s views were sought.

There should be enough time for seek the views of third parties. Those who should have been consulted have not had the opportunity to comment. It will cause material prejudice.

We will need to consider our landscape assessment. There is insufficient detail to assess the information properly. We ask that the inquiry be postponed until sufficient detail is provided.

Ineos has form in submitted late evidence, he said. The company provided late information to the Harthill inquiry. There was prejudice, he says, and the proposals were not subject to sufficient rigour.

We look to the inspector to ensure that fairness is done.

It is surprising in a long-awaited inquiry that we still do not know what the appellant is proposing.

Call for the inquiry to be adjourned

The inspector asks for views to adjourn the inquiry.

Gordon Steele QC for Ineos says there is no need for an adjournment. John Darby, for Rotherham Council, says his experts are getting more time. The inspector needs to consider prejudice to third parties and local residents. I cannot advise you on that, he says.

Jack Parker, for Woodsetts Against Fracking, says “We still don’t know what the Ineos proposal is”. There would be prejudice to third parties who want to comment on the fence. An adjournment would not solve the problem. The fence should be considered outside the inquiry as a separate application, he says. We are not asking you to adjourn now, he says.

The inspector, Katie Peerless, says she will not adjourn the inquiry.


2.15pm Statement from Dawn Norman, opponent

The resident, aged 71, suffers from heart and breathing difficulties.

We came here for the countryside 32 years ago, for a simple peaceful life.

The proposed test site is causing more stress, she says. Our lives will be destroyed along with our happiness and health. We will have to move but no one will want to buy our cottage.

She fears emissions, mud and traffic. The emissions from the site will go over her house. She says the loss of view would be heart–breaking.

She cannot take an alternative route for walks because she cannot travel that far.

This site would be right on and adjoining the village. It is 85m from her gateway, she says.

They will destroy our countryside, community, wildlife, our life.


2.05pm Statement from Helen Clark, opponent

Mrs Clark says she has lived in Woodsetts since 1999.

The inquiry hear she lives on Berne Square, sheltered housing for vulnerable and ill adults. Her garden faces the proposed shale gas site and her bedroom overlooks the garden.

She tells the inquiry she loves her garden for the peace and quiet and has twice won the mayor’s award. She says the peace and quiet will be lost

Please think very carefully before approvign this, she says. Please put people first, not profit, she says. The walks for dog walkers will potentially be lost for ever. I cannot express how worried I am if this goes ahead. Where is your duty for us, she says. Gone will be our view, gone will be clean fresh air, gone will be clean washing on our line. Reject this proposal for good.

If this proposal goes ahead, it will not be safe for me to go to the holly bush if this goes ahead, with the lorries, she says.

A 3m barrier is proposed. No one from Ineos has been to see me, she says. This will be the equivalent of a Woodsetts, Berlin Wall.


2pm Inquiry resumes

The inspector has a microphone. More are being sought, the inquiry is told.


12.05pm Break for lunch

The inquiry resumes at 2pm to allow a sound system to be installed.


11.35am Opening statement – Woodsetts Against fracking

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Jack Parker, barrister for Woodsetts Against Fracking, addressing the inquiry, 11 June 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Jack Parker, barrister for Woodsetts Against Fracking (WAF), says the group represented the views of the vast majority of residents in the village.

The group has employed experts and its objections were based on their advice, he said.

“WAF is strongly of the view that the adverse impacts of the proposed development are significant”

Noise barrier

There was consternation in WAF when Ineos submitted proposals for a 3m noise barrier, Mr Parker says.

“There was further consternation when it was suggested for the first time that it would be necessary to erect the barrier to ensure that noise from the development would be kept to within acceptable noise limits”

Mr Parker says WAF was dismayed that, less than a week before the inquiry, Ineos responded for the first time to the council’s request for information about the proposed barrier and even then the information was insufficient to enable a proper assessment of its impact.

“WAF is unsure whether any consideration has even been given to the feasibility of constructing such a significant structure in this location.

“The barrier is not only likely to be wholly unacceptable in its impact but also that it would amount to a fundamental alteration to the proposed development.”

Mr Parker says very limited information about the barrier had been provided, apart from the 3m height and that it is important to mitigate the noise from the access track.

Evidence from the Ineos noise expert indicated that the noise barrier was a fundamental element of the proposed noise mitigation, Mr Parker says. Without the barrier, Ineos concludes the adverse impact from noise would be unacceptable.

“Given the fundamental importance of the acoustic barrier … and the fact that the Appellant has been preparing this application for months, if not years, it is surprising to say the least that it was first mentioned in shortly before the exchange proofs of evidence a matter of weeks before the inquiry.”

WAF is dismayed that Ineos supplied  information only a week before the inquiry, Mr Parker says.

Ineos has provided no information on the construction of the fence, Mr Parker says.

It is highly unlikely that excavation for 110 post foundations for the fence would be possible without digging into the bedrock with machinery, he says.

“The construction of the fence  is likely to extend or otherwise exacerbate the impacts at Stage 1 [of the development] which are already unacceptable so far as the council and WAF are concerned.”

No information has been provided on the impact of the fence of traffic using the access track or on people using the public rights of way, Mr Parker adds.

“The barrier would obliterate what was previously an open, unencumbered view over rolling countryside to woodland and the skyline.

“It will both create a sense of enclosure on the right of way and in the various residential properties on Berne Square.”

It will impede the ability of people to use the rights of way to enjoy the views of the open countryside, which make the right of way such a valuable resource for the community, Mr Parker says.

Given its length, height and construction permanent nature, the barrier represented  “development”, Mr Parker says, and requires planning permission in its own right.

The barrier would not “preserve” the openness of the greenbelt and would breach paragraph 146 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

“WAF considers that the effect of granting planning permission would amount to a fundamental alteration of the development for which planning permission was sought so as to necessitate a fresh application for planning permission.”

Mr Parker says people should have had the right to be consulted on the changes. This represents prejudice to the public who have been deprived of the opportunity to comment.

At 6.15pm last night, Ineos submitted new evidence on the barrier, Mr Parker says. Now the company is suggesting that the barrier may not be needed, he adds.

“Such an about turn in the Appellant’s position would only add to the dismay and bemusement on the part of WAF and no doubt other residents and calls into question the extent to which one can have any confidence in the prospect of the impacts of the proposal being satisfactorily mitigated so as to protect the amenity of local residents.”

The inspector must be clear about what is proposed and what the mitigation will be to properly assess the impact of the proposal.

Traffic

WAF argues that Ineos has failed to properly assess the impact of the scheme on traffic or demonstrate that its proposed route is safe and suitable, Mr Parker says.

The company has failed to consider the worst case and unpredictability in vehicle numbers. There is an assumption that vehicles would be convoyed but no details on the impact of other road users, Mr Parker says.

There has been no proper assessment of road width on the lorry route, Mr Parker adds. The swept path diagrams provided by Ineos are deficient, he says. The route is unsuitable, he says, and increased HGV traffic will be a risk to vulnerable road users. Ineos has failed to assess how the route is used by walkers, cyclists or horse riders, he says. The residual cumulative impact will be severe, he says.

Other noise issues

Even with the noise barrier, the proposals will have an unacceptable noise impact on residents of Berne Square, during both construction of the access track and at night during drilling and coring.

At night, WAF argues, Ineos has not reduced adverse impacts to a minimum.

Residential amenity

Mr Parker says the proposals will have an unacceptable impact on residents in Berne Square,  12 semi-detached bungalows  designated by Rotherham council for vulnerable people with life-limiting illnesses.

They would be affected by noise, traffic, emissions, lighting and the wider public would be affected by the impact on the public rights of way network, he says.

The inspector should consider the equality of opportunity for the residents. It is not sufficient if the proposals werre acceptable to residential amenity.

Ineos accepts the Berne Square residents are vulnerable but their health should be change the approach to considering the appeal.

Mr Parker says the inspector must have “due regard to advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.”

“she would need to understand how the appeal proposals were likely to impact on the residents of Berne Square in light of their particular health needs”

 Ineos has failed to provide an assessment of these issues, Mr Parker says.

The development has the potential to increase the disadvantages suffered by the residents of Berne Square and further impact detrimentally on their needs.

Other impacts and benefits

WAF will use evidence from Kirby Misperton to show that emissions will increase from site traffic.

Ineos has not considered the impact of site lighting on the residents of Bernes Square, Mr Parker says.

The impact on the public right of way would affect many residents in the village and would be “substantial and detrimental”, he adds.

Whatever the benefits, this does not mean the application should be approved whatever its impacts, Mr Parker says.

“Mineral development must be located in the right place. This is the wrong place. Aside from anything else, the fact that the Appellant has even had to contemplate the erection of a 250m noise barrier to properly mitigate the noise impacts of the proposal demonstrate that to be the case.”

Applause from the public gallery.


11.20am Break

The inquiry adjourns to install a working sound system.


11.16am Complaint about hearing

Deborah Hodson, of Harthill Against Fracking, says people are leaving the inquiry because they cannot hear.

People cannot participate if they cannot hear evidence, she says. They are being disadvantaged, she says. This would be a case for a judicial review, she adds.

Gordon Steele, for Ineos, asks if the council has a sound system that could be installed in the room. He recommends a break to avoid any prejudice to the public.


11.06am Opening statment – Rotherham Borough Council

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John Darby, barrister for Rotherham Council, addressing the inquiry, 11 June 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

John Darby, barrister for the council, says the application was first refused in March 2018 on ecology and transport grounds.

A second application was recommended for approval but members refused in September 2018 on noise and highway safety grounds. Officers recommended later that the highway grounds would be removed from the objections.

The council remains concerns about noise caused by construction of the access track. The 65 decibel noise limit would be exceeded at Berne Square.

“On any basis that represents a significant adverse impact.”

More recently, Ineos proposed an acoustic screen and modified methods of working. Mr Darby says Ineos submitted further clarification very recently submitted and needed to be reviewed by the council.

Even with the barrier, the predicted levels would still exceed the 65db limit by about 3db at sheltered housing bungalows for vulnerable residents.. Data produced last night appears to show different levels, Mr Darby says. These need to be examined.

The council is also concerned about noise from the operational phase. They should not exceed 42db at night. This is a maximum, rather than an acceptable level, which Mr Darby says Ineos argues.

The background levels could be much lower than Ineos has stated. The excess of operational noise over background could be 9db, which would be a significant adverse effect, he says.

Noise from the rig would be clearly audible in bedrooms if window were open and cause sleep disturbance. The risk of impact is unacceptably high, especially given the vulnerability of residents, Mr Darby says.

Mr Darby says the High Court ruled that paragraph 209a was unlawful. The council will make a statement on the impact of this ruling.


11am Opening statement – Ineos

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Ineos team with Gordon Steele, the company’s barrister, at the far end of the table, 11 June 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Gordon Steele, barrister for Ineos, makes his opening statement.

He says the application does not include fracking. Any objections to fracking are not relevant at the inquiry, he says. There are yellow t-shirts and badges in the room, opposing fracking, They are in the wrong place, he says.

The proposal is for a very limited period, he says, and is entirely reversible.

The local development plan strong support the shale gas scheme at Woodsetts, Mr Steele says.

Rotherham Council does not object to the scheme on traffic,  transportation or green belt grounds, he says.

Officials at the council do not object on noise grounds, he adds. He says the council’s position is not clear. All work will be carried out within noise guidelines, he adds.

The proposal is strongly supported by planning policy, the latest written ministerial statement, and all other material considerations, Mr Steele concludes.


10.42am Noise barrier

About a month ago, Ineos had said it would install an acoustic barrier along the access track and near sheltered housing bungalows in Woodsetts. It was called the “Great Wall of Ineos” by villagers.

The inquiry hears that Ineos submitted more evidence on the barrier evidence on Wednesday and at 6.15pm yesterday.

John Darby, barrister for the Rotherham council, says his noise expert needs more time to look at material submitted by Ineos last night. He will need to take instructions, he says.

Jack Parker, for Woodsetts Against Fracking, says he has not had chance to look at the new Ineos material. He says the group may ask Ineos to produce more evidence on noise impacts. He also says noise mitigation issues may affect traffic evidence.

The noise experts from the three parties are to have a meeting on the barrier.

Andy Tickle, of CPRE, said the late information from Ineos risked prejudicing the ability of people to participate in the inquiry.


10.40am Key issues

Ms Peerless, the inspector, says the two key issues for the inquiry are:

  • Noise and impacts of the development on the lives of local residents
  • Highway and traffic safety

10.30am Inquiry routine

The inspector Katie Peerless, says there will be a mid-morning break, 1 hour break at about 1pm. The inquiry will adjourn at about 5pm Tuesday-Thursday and lunchtime on Friday.

Ms Peerless says she will set out the key issues of the inquiry. Ineos will make an opening statement, followed by the council and Woodsetts Against Fracking. Witnesses will give evidence and be cross-examined.


10.20am Hearing resumes

The inspector, Katie Peerless, collects names of about 20 people who wish to address in the inquiry. They include residents, representatives of local parish councils, Rotherham Borough Council and the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Letters have also been submitted from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, local councils and residents, the inspector says.

Ms Peerless asks for a signed statement of common ground between the three parties.


10.11am Hearing adjourned

The inquiry is adjourned for 10 minutes to rearrange the room and bring in more seats.

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10am Inquiry opens

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Inquiry inspector, Katie Peerless. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The inspector, Katie Peerless, formally opens the inquiry at Riverside House in Rotherham.

About 50 people are in the public gallery.

The inquiry hears that Gordon Steele QC is representing Ineos Upstream. John Darby is the barrister for Rotherham Borough Council and Jack Parker for Woodsetts Against Fracking.

People in the public gallery applaud at a complaint against audibility in the room. The inspector suggests the room could be rearranged to allow for more people to sit. The inquiry is offered a portable sound system by one of the campaign groups.


9.45pm Hall fills up

More chairs needed for all the people who want to attend the opening session of the inquiry.

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Inquiry room at Riverside House in Rotherham, 11 June 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop


9am Demonstration

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Demonstration outside public inquiry into Ineos shale gas plans at Woodsetts, 11 June 2019. Photo: DrilllOrDrop

DrillOrDrop report


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20 replies »

  1. Objection is concerning noise so they bring in a sound system to magnify the sound!!

    You really could not make it up.

  2. Why don’t you find out Eli ? Then you might know what you are talking about .Its not very nice to mock elderly people who cant hear whats being said Martin , imagine it was your parents.

    • Jono; Damned if Ineos does, Damned if they don’t! Noise cancelling efforts,
      What are they to do to offer energy & job security, and taxation to pay for the things in life you take for granted!
      While everyone has the right to peaceful protest it cannot be done at the expense of residents personal safety or of those around this site, the activists in this case, the workers on Ineos work site and locally based people in close proximity to the proposal.

      • Are we talking about the safety of Ineos workers? The company whos pollution record is appalling to the point where it is said to responsible for one third of the pollution in Scotland, oh the joy for elderly people who have worked all their lives to have this at the bottom of the garden. Somehow i don’t see you with any valid arguments. If you want to keep people safe then keep Ineos away. https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/almost-third-scotlands-carbon-footprint-16491436

        • Just goes to show Jono how the industry in Scotland has declined, apart from INEOS, leaving them now representing such a proportion of GDP for Scotland. Shame really that the good old days of many of the Glasgow flats being carpeted by Cunard are long gone. LOL

          If you want to keep people employed in well paid jobs keep INEOS. If you want to keep them away, they have a choice to relocate somewhere else and take their jobs with them. Most elderly people recognise their offspring need well paid employment and would rather not end up as Bank of Mum and Dad, and having to then restrict what they had planned for their retirement, especially if they have to find some more cash for their TV licence.

  3. Are these the same elderly people who are concerned about a noise barrier not being sufficient and wanting rejection based upon noise?? After all, that’s what this inquiry is about!

  4. Martin and Eli-Goth; your comments are very immature. If you have nothing useful to say, then please keep your thoughts to yourself. This Inquiry is about serious matters. The outcome will affect people’s lives.

    • Oops. Sorry not to reach your high standards, Waffle. Yes, the outcome will affect people’s lives but so does the outcome of any Planning Inquiry.

      Tell you what Waffle-you are not forced to read my posts and some may not like you trying to edit who can post and who can not. Thought the antis were continually pushing the democracy ticket and freedom of expression?

  5. Check out List of the Harmed if you’re surprised at any of this fiasco!

    Then consider why Roseacre was turned down on appeal!

    Then watch again the documentary from Sir David Attenborough why absolutely NO fossil fuel exploitation should happen again!

    Then ask why Inoeos are even attempting to continue to destroy our planet, well by well!

    • Peter – why do you keep perpetuating the argument that the list of the harmed has any scientific basis? I’m also not quite why you keep mentioning David Attenborough. He’s a jolly good presenter but a climate scientist he is not.

  6. Lord Browne interest is now more aligned with Russian funded L1 Energy. So maybe he wants more Russian gas over domestic UK shale production. He is a businessman so he will switch side when it serves his own interests.

  7. Well TW, he has done pretty well out of selling businesses to INEOS. But then INEOS have done better with what they have bought!

    Bit like a football club that buys a number of players from another club and ends up with them looking like world stars rather than also rans. Then, I will believe the club that now has the world stars may have a better idea how to manage the assets.

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