Breaking: Minister to decide Ineos shale gas plans at Woodsetts

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

Ineos plans to drill for shale gas in the south Yorkshire village of Woodsetts are to be decided by the local government secretary, James Brokenshire.

The Planning Inspectorate confirmed today that Mr Brokenshire had recovered the appeal against refusal of consent by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council.

The news came a week after the end of a six-day public inquiry into the Woodsetts scheme,  headed by a planning inspector.

Also today, it was confirmed that Mr Brokenshire would decide the appeal by IGas against refusal of permission for testing at its Ellesmere Port site in Cheshire. DrillOrDrop report.

Both appeals had been due to be decided by the inspectors. But in identical letters, the Planning Inspectorate said:

“the Secretary of State considers that he should determine it himself”.

This means the inquiry inspectors will prepare a report and recommendation for Mr Brokenshire, who will make the final decision.

Both letters said:

“The reason for this direction is that the appeal involves proposals for exploring and developing shale gas which amount to proposals for development of major importance having more than local significance.

“The Government has made clear in the WMS [written ministerial statement] of May 2018 that it would consider carefully recovering appeals of this nature.”

Impact on vulnerable residents

190614 woodsetts inq site visit WAF1

Site at Woodsetts earmarked by Ineos for shale gas drilling with panels representing height of proposed acoustic barrier, 14 June 2019. Photo: Woodsetts Against Fracking

The Woodsetts inquiry focused on the impact of the proposed shale gas site on elderly and vulnerable residents living nearby.

The inquiry heard how the proposed access track would be close to a sheltered housing complex.

Ineos witnesses gave evidence that the scheme would have no health impacts. But residents told the inquiry about their fears about the effect of noise, lighting and dust from the proposal.

They also complained about new proposals, introduced by Ineos before the inquiry opened, to install a 9ft noise barrier alongside the access track.

Rotherham Council and Woodsetts Against Fracking argued the barrier would damage the openness in the Green Belt. It would also spoil local views and enjoyment of bridleways, they said.

The council said the barrier should require a separate planning application. There were concerns that local people had been disadvantaged because they had not been consulted on the barrier in the original application.

Shale gas inquiries

In November 2015, the then local government secretary, Greg Clark, decided he would recover the appeals by Cuadrilla against refusal of permission to drill, frack and test up to four shale gas wells at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood, near Blackpool.

His successor, Sajid Javid, granted permission for the Preston New Road in October 2016. In March 2019 Mr Brokenshire refused consent for Roseacre Wood.

Inquiries on Ineos appeals in 2018 at Marsh Lane, in Derbyshire, and Harthill, in south Yorkshire, were both decided in the company’s favour by planning inspectors.



21 replies »

  1. Absolutely right, national interests exceed the whining obstructive arguments of the anti fossil fuel zealots.

    • Further fossil fuel extraction is against both national and international interests. Supporting the fossil fuel industry means increased climate chaos. This is not zealotry, but simple and clear science.

  2. In view of parliament declaring a climate energy and setting a target to achieve nett zero carbon emissions by 2050, we now have to decarbonise quickly. This will be impossible if government green lights a new fossil fuel industry in the UK.

    • David, if you bothered reading the Net Zero report issued by the committee for climate change you might have read that the use of natural gas is very much part of the strategy. A particular application was to create hydrogen which can then be substituted for natural gas

      • Production of hydrogen from methane leaves carbon as a byproduct. This is ordinarily expressed as carbon dioxide which then needs to be captured. There are reportedly ways of creating a carbon residue without forming carbon dioxide but this residue would need to be stored. There are other methods of creating hydrogen from water by electrolysis using electricity which do not release carbon. These might be used in a carbon free future. But producton of hydrogen from natural gas cannot.

  3. There will be a new government shortly and all this will be knocked on the head. All the name calling by greedy selfish punters wont help. Shale is dead before it starts.

    • Wonderful so we import increasing proportions of our gas from Qatar, Russia & the US (places with mostly lower environmental standards than our own). This at higher carbon cost than home production. Gas prices rise, more fuel poverty, you feel better morally but make zero difference to global warming. Sorry makes no sense to me.

      • Shalewatcher: “Wonderful so we import increasing proportions of our gas from Qatar, Russia & the US”

        Except we don’t, so why lie? That makes no sense to me.

        DUKES, 2018, p.13: “Net imports accounted for 36 per cent of energy used in the UK in 2017, down from their share of 48 per cent in 2013.”

        DUKES, 2018, p.14: “In 2017, gas accounted for 40 per cent of UK generation down from 42 per cent in 2016”

        DUKES, 2018, p.17: “In 2017, the share of energy from fossil fuels decreased further to a record low of 80.1 per cent, whilst that from low-carbon sources increased from having a 17.4 per cent to a 18.4 per cent share.”

        DUKES, 2018, p.89: Natural Gas
        “Key points
        • UK natural gas production in 2017 was relatively stable on 2016 at 465 TWh, up just 0.3 per cent. However, this small increase includes production of cushion gas from the Rough storage facility as it is prepared for closure, without which production would have fallen 1.5 per cent. Although recent years have seen modest increases in production, the long-term pattern is one of decline and 2017 production levels stood at under 40 per cent of the peak in 2000 (Table 4.1, Chart 4.1).

        • Net imports were 4.5 per cent lower in 2017 compared to 2016 (Table 4.1), driven by a 7.5 per cent increase in exports. Volumes exported to Belgium were up by nearly a third, increasing the share of UK exports to Belgium to more than 70 per cent. Imports fell by 1.8 per cent.

        • Imports of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) decreased by over a third to 80 TWh in 2017, with imports of LNG from Qatar dropping by 40 per cent. In contrast pipeline imports increased by 8.2 per cent, with increased imports from Belgium and Norway more than compensating for a halving of imports from the Netherlands. (Table 4.5, Chart 4.3).

        • Total gas demand (natural gas plus colliery methane) decreased by 3.0 per cent in 2017 to 875 TWh. Notably gas used for electricity generation fell by 4.0 per cent a result of an uptake in low carbon electricity sources such as renewables and nuclear. (Table 4.1, Chart 4.5).

        • Final consumption decreased by 2.8 per cent in 2017 to 495 TWh, with warmer temperatures in 2017 leading to decreases in the domestic (4.6 per cent), public administration (4.4 per cent) and commercial (3.4 per cent) sectors. In contrast industrial usage increased by 3.2 per cent, the principal reason being an 8.4 per cent increase in gas used in the chemicals sector. Excluding chemicals, industrial usage rose just 2.0 per cent.”

        • The independent Committee on Climate Change recently reported that by 2050 we will still require some 70% of the gas we currently consume but unless we develop our domestic resources, we will need to import 86% of that gas from overseas. Apologies if I anticipated that development.

      • As the Tory climate change group reported yesterday, investment in oil, gas and coal will result in fossil fuel stocks that will become stranded assets. These are assets that suffer a premature write down and therefore represent a loss to the investor that cannot be recovered. The exploitation of already discovered fossil fuel resources would result in unrecoverable climate change, therefore, they can never all be exploited and some of this current stock will become a stranded asset. So investment in more fossil fuel exploration and development will just result in larger losses in the long run and a beggar my neighbour approach to selling the stock in the medium term. Investment capital would be better spent on development of carbon free sources of energy.

  4. The ICCC recently reported that by 2050 we will still require some 70% of the gas we currently consume but unless we develop our domestic resources we will need to import 86% of that gas from overseas.

    Perhaps the antis will just do some crowd funding to make up for the £ millions that would be lost in tax revenues that will be needed to achieve some of the other targets under net zero?? Or, just accept they will not be achieved.

    Yes, Jono, there will be a new government shortly. One that is currently making financial pledges on such things as education, defence and tax reform. I would quite like UK business to grow and contribute more to that so the individual does not pick up all the bill. “Alternatively” tax hikes to the wealthy could push them overseas and the remaining individuals would pick up a bigger bill and mass unemployment.

    • Martin – I hope you’re not trying to suggest that Jeremys money tree is a figment of the imagination of the left

    • ‘I would quite like UK business to grow and contribute more’

      China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) -> Kerogen -> AJ Lucas -> Cuadrilla

      China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) -> Nexen -> Igas

      And Aurora

      ‘But it is the people behind the company who will benefit, not those living in the area. An investigation by Corporate Watch has found Aurora’s owner is using tax havens and complicated financial structures to keep as much of the profits for themselves as possible’

      • Strange that Cuadrilla recently produced figures for investment recently that you ignored John! Hmm, wonder why? Yes, I know the figure is not mega bucks, but not expected to be so at this stage. So, yes I would like it to grow.

        Perhaps have a look at the ownership in the off shore wind farm sector for comparative purposes. Whoops.

      • John, one of the solutions to the upcoming economic recession may be a massive increase in government spending targeting areas where it can be sown to have positive productivity benefits for the U.K. This need for fiscal loosening will stem from the current very low level of interest rates which leaves no room for further reductions in rates, the so called zero bound effect. It is perfectly possible for such increased government spending to target shale gas production via state investment in private companies or indeed state ownership. Put money into the economy, reduce imports, increase energy security, potentially lower gas prices, what’s not to like?

  5. UK shale looks like a dead duck economically and politically. Not sure if any new government will help to bring it back from its death.

  6. Just remembering the 1970s Judith. Only difference now is that those with money to protect against excessive taxes can move themselves and their assets via the click of a button, leaving the useful idiots to cope with three day weeks, high inflation, tax hikes, huge levels of unemployment, price controls and limits to money they can move outside of the country-so, that if they manage to get a holiday abroad they will be ignored by the staff who know they are skint .

    Additionally, borrowing rates are based on ability to pay it back. Wonga shows when that is doubtful rates are set accordingly.

    Or, as Natascha states in the Times today:

    “Meaningless targets and virtue signalling, on the other hand, will simply be ignored.” (She is a one!)

    So, INCLUDING the UKs consumption emissions, UK carbon reductions are just 3.4% since 1997! In other words, for example, we close Redcar and have steel imported from China with far higher emissions.

    Wonder what a BMW costs in carbon emissions compared to a UK produced car?

  7. How’s Tesla share price doing, John?? I recall someone stating they should be $400+.

    Are they both going to fail?

    Call me old fashioned but I have a bit more sympathy for a company involved in exploration showing share price reaction to delay than I do with a company in production for some years, failing to meet its own targets and racking up losses reflecting in the share price.

    Not sure the recent Glencore news from DRC will help Tesla. Continuing deaths amongst illegal miners will need to be sorted and this will impact cobalt prices as well.

  8. The recently published analysis of the Springs Road cores suggest that the Gainsborough Trough has he potential to be almost as productive as the US Permian Basin in natural gas production. It has the potential in the medium term to reduce U.K. gas prices significantly and to reduce our reliance on LNG imports from Qatar, the US and Russia. I suspect the government is receiving expert advice to this effect which is why planning decisions are being taken back to Government centrally.

    From the Green point of view Natural Gas has the potential to provide a role in difficult to electrify areas such as home heating. It could be used with carbon capture and storage to generate reliable cheap electricity or it could be used as a feedstock for hydrogen production.

    I realise that in the middle of a heatwave this might not be obvious but the U.K. has the 6th largest excess winter mortality in Europe. This excess is especially apparent amongst the poor and vulnerable who are inclined more to reduce home temperatures in winter to save on bills. It is possible that one positive effect of global warming might be be to produce higher winter temperatures but some experts predict that within the general winter warming we will see greater variability with the possibility of cold spikes like the beast from the east.

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