This post has live news updates from discussions of new conditions for Egdon Resources’ North Kelsey oil exploration site.
The company is seeking permission from Lincolnshire County Council to vary its planning permission to drill at the site
The changes include a new layout and site liner, addition of two lighting towers, higher noise limits and longer working and delivery hours.
In a separate application, Egdon is seeking permission to install 12 site security and welfare cabins, five water bowsers, fuel tank, a generator and other facilities.
Council officials have recommended approval of most of the proposals but some local people and campaign groups are opposing all the changes.
The site was first granted planning permission in 2014. The duration of the consent was extended in 2018 for three more years to December 2020 but no work has yet been carried out. DrillOrDrop North Kelsey key facts and timeline
These are news updates reported live and are not an official or verbatim record of the meeting of the council’s planning committee. Please let us know if you spot mistakes or feel we have misrepresented evidence.
Reporting from this meeting has been made possible by individual donations by DrillOrDrop readers
- Extra cabins, tanks and facilities – approved
- Egdon’s request to increase noise limit to 50db day and night – refused
- Egdon’s extension of working hours to 7pm on Saturday – refused
- Extension of delivery time to 7pm – refused
- New site layout, liner and lighting towers – approved
- “Proportionate response”, says Egdon consultant
- “Disappointing”, say residents. “Planning system is letting people down”.
Reaction – local residents
Amanda Sudaby, the nearest resident to the North Kelsey site, says:
“I disappointed, again. Despite all the current climate awareness and the threat that we face it seems our councillors do not want to take that into consideration.
This [planning] system is letting people down. I can understand why people are protesting because nothing else is working.
We have written letters, we have spoken to our representatives, we have worn ourselves out doing it and it seems to have very little effect and there is nothing left apart from protest.
Egdon massively exaggerated the protest at Biscathorpe to justify the security changes at North Kelsey.
There were only two arrests, not three as Egdon said.
We see the committee taking decisions on incorrect information but we do not have the opportunity to correct it.
One arrest was for obstruction of the highway – and it was the site entrance not the road – and the other was a compassionate intervention.
The cases have not come to court and there have been no convictions, Ms Sudaby said. She added:
“That is the whole justification for this and I am not sure that I believe that is why they need this extra accommodation. They should have allowed for existing staff in the first application.
She predicted that the approval of 24-hour lighting at the site would increase the visual impact and disturb wildlife, which included barn owls, bats and skylark.
Reaction – Egdon
After the meeting, Paul Foster, consultant to Egdon Resources, described the company’s applications as a “proportionate response to what Lincolnshire Police had advised”.
11 vote in favour; none against and 1 abstention. The application is approved.
Cllr Charles Strange says the Biscathorpe site was granted permission despite it being near a chalk stream, which upset local people. This is a different animal altogether, he says.
Cllr Strange says “I am surprised it [the security compound] has to be so big.” He asks the planners to encourage Egdon to leave the site as soon as possible.
The committee vice chair, Thomas Ashton, says it is important to keep the proposals in proportion. A similar, retrospective, application had been submitted for Biscathorpe. This is intended to be temporary and will be returned to farmland. That is enough to approve.
Cllr Lindsey Cawrey says Ms Sudaby referred to mass extinction caused by fossil fuels. It is not, she says, it is relentless population growth. People working onthe site should have proper facilities.
12.01pm Questions to Paul Foster
Cllr David Brailsford asks whether it is true that the site will be returned to agricultural land by December 2020. Mr Foster says it is.
Cllr Hilton Spratt asks how sure is Mr Foster than Egdon will not be coming back for another extension of the duration of permission.
The committee is told by an officer that it cannot consider what may come in the future.
11.58am Statement by Paul Foster, Egdon consultant
Mr Foster says
Egdon has a duty of care to protect staff, visitors and protesters and a right to conduct its business.
The nature and scale of protests at the Egdon site at Biscathorpe and this suggests North Kelsey could see the same. The work has been advised by Lincolnshire Police, he says. The number of cabins is the same as at Biscathorpe, he says.
The temporary compound would not have an impact on the landscape. There would be a small increase in vehicles to deliver the cabins and this would have a negligible effect, he says.
The proposal is a proven and measured approach, he says. All effects would be temporary and entirely reversible. He urges the committee to grant planning permission.
11.54am Statement by Amanda Sudaby, opponent
Ms Sudaby, the nearest resident to the North Kelsey site, describes the application as planning by stealth. The number of cabins were double sought in an application at nearby the Biscathorope oil site, she says.
Our beautiful countryside is being industrialised bit by bit, she says. The site is beginning to resemble a prison compound, she adds.
Egdon cited protests at Biscathorpe and Laughton for the application, she says. There was no protest at Laughton. At Biscathorpe there were two arrests and no convictions. She asks whether security issues are being used to justify the extension of the site.
Egdon know they have no social licence for this scheme. We cannot afford to burn existing fossil fuel reserves, she says. It is time to take a leap forward and give a message to the fossil fuel industry.
The protest at Biscathorpe has been misrepresented to justify the application, she says. She urges the committee to refuse.
11.45am Second application – site security cabins
Planning officer, Neil McBride, says Egdon seeks to add 12 security cabins for 18 months on the site.
The company also seeks 5×1,000 water tanks, 1 generator, 1×3,000 litre fuel tank and 2 lighting towers.
He says the additional cabins will be on tracking so no top soil will need to be removed.
He says there have been objections from the local parish councils and neighbouring parish and town councils. West Lindsey District Council says any increase of the impermeable area could increase the risk of surface water flooding. Noise levels and lighting proposals should not have a detrimental effect.
The Environment Agency and highways authority have not objected, Mr McBride says.
He says the application complies with planning policies.
Mr McBride recommends approval with five conditions.
Cllr Newton proposes an amendment to refuse the extension of working hours.
Eight vote in favour; 2 against and 2 abstain
This means Egdon’s lighting changes are approved but proposals to extend working hours are refused. The planning officer’s recommendation on noise of 42 decibels is also approved. This is a small increase in noise levels at some of the nearest homes to the site. The company had asked to increase noise levels to 50db.
Planning officer, Neil McBride, is asked to clarify what Egdon wants to change about working hours on Saturdays. Mr McBride says the company was seeking to increase hours during the drilling phase from 1pm to 7pm.
Cllr Spratt says if the changes had been put introduced when the application was first submitted it would not have been approved.
It is planning permission by stealth. We haven’t got what we want this time, we’ll go back and ask for some more and a bit more. Where does this end?
Cllr Lindsey Cawrey says the committee must consider the quality of life of people who will have to suffer from these extra hours. I cannot in all honesty to impose this. I would not want it. I will vote against it.
The committee vice chair, Thomas Ashton, asks for evidence that Egdon cannot function within the existing conditions. Neil McBride, the planning officer, says the additional hours would give flexibility because of additional security needed during drilling at nearby Biscathorpe.
Cllr Daniel McNally says he has sympathy for Egdon because of slow walking protests at Biscathorpe. He asks whether the lighting would be switched off at 7pm and how many more vehicle movements would there be. Planning officer Neil McBride says there will not be additional vehicles.
The law officer says the change in the lorry movements would not be different from the original planning condition.
The planning officer says the difficulty has arisen because drilling has been split from preparation for testing. Three phases currently stop work at 5.30pm, he says. Egdon seeks to extend them to 7pm. This would apply to Saturdays during the drilling phase. During phase three (preparation for testing) there is no request to change deliveries.
Cllr Hilton Spratt says Egdon wants changes because of protests. If there is a bigger protest they will come back with a request for more changes. Cllr Spratt “We do not want to extend the operating time”.
Vice chair, Cllr Thomas Ashton, says he appreciates this is an emotive subject. He says farmers will be on the lanes during harvest time and they will not be stopping at 7pm. He asks to look at the route from the site to the main route.
Cllr Strange asks about the lighting columns. They would be used 24-hours.
11.17am Statement from local county councillor
The local county councillor raises concerns about industrialisation of the countryside because of the lighting proposals. The councillor says there is a lot of dismay among local people.
11.12am Cllr Charles Strange, local district councillor
Cllr Strange says he is very concerned about the application.
He says local people just want to get on with their lives. There has been wide opposition on many grounds to the proposal, not least it will affect the quality of life of many people, he says.
It is difficult to stand up and object against security measures recommended by police.
He says he welcomes the planning officers’ recommendation of a noise limit of 42db, rather than the company’s request of 50db.
He says he does not agree with the proposal to extend delivery hours. Local people did not ask Egdon to come. They have to live with the inconvenience, so Egdon should fit around them. The company should stick to its original proposal on delivery hours.
He also asks the committee to refuse the lighting towers.
11.11am Update from planning officer
The planning officer says the company originally sought to increase the noise limit to 50db.
10.59am Committee questions of Egdon Resources
Cllr Paul Skinner says he is not impressed by the increased noise levels. Paul Foster, for the company says the noise levels would be simplified to have the same level, day and night.
Cllr Charles Strange raises concern on the 42decibel noise limit.
Cllr David Brailsford asks whether there will be local opposition to justify the security measures. Mr Foster says Egdon is acting responsibly. There were three arrests at Biscathorpe, he says. The security measures on the advice of Lincolnshire Police.
Cllr Angela Newton is concerned about increased working hours on Saturdays. Paul Foster says the company is not seeking extra time on Saturdays. The planning officer, Neil McBride, says the existing hours for drilling are 7am-1pm on Saturdays. This should be changed to 7am-7pm on Saturday based on information in the application. He asks for clarification. Mr Foster says this change had already been approved.
Cllr Julie Killey says the three arrests were not by local police but Mablethorpe officers, who were heavy-handed. It was not the case that protesters were doing anything wrong.
Paul Foster is asked the security fencing. He says the existing 1.2m fence would be replaced by 2.4m fencing to prevent trespass. He says it is not an acoustic barrier.
Cllr Strange says he is worried by the lighting towers. We live in world of light pollution, he says. What mitigation have you brought in to mitigate the amount of light that escapes to the skies, which is normally black, he asks. These are two mobile lighting towers, Mr Foster says. Egdon will be required to submit a lighting plan.
10.56am Paul Foster, consultant for Egdon Resources
Mr Foster says the proposal follows drilling at Biscathorpe in January and February 2019. In the five years since the application was first granted, the industry has learned more about exploration.
The clay liner is to be substituted by a new membrane, which can be more easily monitored and recycled. The company wants to improve security. Fencing would be increased in height and lighting towers added.
Working hours would be added from 5.30pm to 7pm, Mr Foster says.
He says noise levels agreed for Biscathorpe should be applied to North Kelsey, he adds. This would rise from 42 to 50db. There were no complaints, he says.
The changes will have no impact on the site of the well site and he asks for them to approved.
10.49am Statement by Amanda Sudaby, opponent
Ms Sudaby, the nearest resident to the North Kelsey site, says four villages and one town council have objected to the proposal. She asks the committee to refuse the scheme. It is not sustainable economically or environmentally, she says.
She says food and water supply will be more important than fuel in future because of climate change. She says the proposal will result in lighting pollution, increased traffic movements, working hours, wildlife disturbance but there is no benefit to the community.
The proposal will be far beyond what was granted in 2014, she says. The courts have confirmed that council can refuse permissions, against recommendation, based on emerging climate change evidence.
She asks the committee to acknowledge local concerns and vote in favour of local interests.
Cllr Charles Strange asks Ms Sudaby about the effect of lorries on local people on a lane. She says it will have a huge impact. The access is used by local walkers and farms. The extra traffic will come up and down the lane, she says. It will be unworkable, she adds. The site is on a blind bend, she says.
10.37am Planning officer report
Planning officer, Neil McBride, introduces the first application. He says the principle of development has been established.
The key issue is to consider whether any of the proposals would materially change the effects on amenity since the permission was originally granted five years ago.
He says the application seeks to amend six conditions of the 2014 consent.
These include proposals seek to change the site layout to reflect changes for the management of surface water run-off; amend materials used in the tertiary containment system; change working and delivery hours and security details. There is also a proposal to change the noise limits at the nearest homes.
The planning officer, Neil McBride, says parish councils at North Kelsey, South Kelsey and Moortown, Holton le Moor and Caistor Town Council have objected to the proposals. There was no objection from West Lindsey District Council, the officer says.
The Environment Agency has no objection to the application. Following changes to the proposals, the Highways Authority has also no objection.
There were 44 objections from members of the public and 2 responses in support, the committee hears.
The officer recommends approval of the application subject to 22 conditions.
10.30am Meeting opens
The committee chair, Cllr Ian Fleetwood, opens the meeting.
10am Opponents gather outside the meeting
Reporting from this meeting has been made possible by individual donations by DrillOrDrop readers
Updated 3 August 2019 to correct one of the key points. We said incorrectly that Egdon Resources had been given permission to extend working hours.