Updated: Deadlines set for reports on Ellesmere Port and Woodsetts appeals

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IGas Ellesmere Port well site. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The decisions on appeals on the IGas site at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire and Ineos plans for Woodsetts are likely to be more than six months away, it emerged today.

The Planning Inspectorate said the deadlines for the report by the inspector at the  public inquiry into the Ellesmere Port scheme had been set for 23 January 2020.

The report on the Woodsetts inquiry is to be submitted by 13 January 2020.

This date for Ellesmere Port is more than a year after the start of the inquiry and almost two years after the planning application was refused by Cheshire West and Chester Council.

The Woodsetts date will be almost two years after the application was first refused by Rotherham council. The inquiry was held June 2019.

It was announced last month that both appeal decisions had been recovered. This means the inspectors will submit a recommendation but the final decision will be made by the local government secretary.

There will, therefore, be another period of time after they submit their recommendations before the scheme is approved or refused.

The Planning Inspectorate said the appeals had been recovered because they involved proposals for exploring and developing shale gas, which were described as of “major importance”.

Two other recent appeals on shale gas schemes – at Harthill in south Yorkshire and Marsh Lane in Derbyshire – were not recovered. The final decisions on these schemes were announced within two months of the end of the inquiries.

“Shale suffered a major blow”

190115 epi 0925 Frack Free Dee

Opponents of IGas’s well test plans outside Chester Town Hall, 15 January 2019. Photo: Frack Free Dee

Ellesmere Port Frack Free, which gave evidence at the inquiry and cross-examined IGas witnesses, said today:

“We welcome the additional time that this delay has given us. The scale of the climate emergency is becoming more obvious day by day and refusal of this application is the only answer.

“On the other hand, if the Secretary of State makes the wrong decision and approves the application, this delay provides us with more time to mount a legal challenge to that decision.”

Ellesmere Port Frack Free said shale had “suffered a major blow” from the report by the Committee on Climate Change recommending net carbon emissions by 2050 and the government’s decision to enshrine this in law.

A spokesperson for the group said:

“Shale gas has a massive carbon footprint from its exploration, its leakage, its usage, and cannot be accommodated in this climate emergency that we find ourselves in.

“Why communities are having to go through the mill of the current round of planning applications is cruel, when the government knows it has to change track quickly, stop subsidising fossil fuels and invest in more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly technologies.

The spokesperson described the IGas application as “severely flawed”.

“IGas misled the local community in stating that they were exploring for coal bed methane, when in fact they explored for shale and, in doing so, broke the initial planning application.

“In the current application to flare the well, IGas has falsified the geology and claimed this was a conventional exploration, when indeed it is proven that they plan to stimulate shale.

“This is an area where active geological faults run underneath the town of Ellesmere Port and an adjacent nuclear facility, which has strict seismic criteria in its nuclear licence.

“To approve the application would fly in the face of civil society, approve an application based on fiction, and place the local town and businesses at risk. Hopefully this is not something the government would like to tarnish itself with.”

DrillOrDrop invited IGas to comment on today’s news. This post will be updated with any response from the company.

“Time is our friend”

Woodsetts Against Fracking, a participant in the Woodsetts inquiry, said this evening:

“It’s a confusing situation for us.

“On the one hand we are pleased that we have been granted what feels like a stay of execution, but on the other we are having difficulty in interpreting the reasons behind the initial call-in and now this lengthy timescale for the Inspector to report.

“We have always believed that time is our friend in this battle, as the case for shale gas grows weaker by the day.

“We also believe that we put up a very strong performance at inquiry and gave the Inspector plenty to consider in her report.

“Our ultimate hope is obviously that the application is refused by the secretary of state, but maybe national events in the meantime will render his decision irrelevant in the long run.

“This delay allows time for a change of government policy or a change of government to one willing to ban fracking.”

DrillOrDrop has invited Ineos to comment and will update this post with any response.

Ellesmere Port timeline

15 January 2010

Permission granted to drill two coal bed methane boreholes followed by appraisal and production

15 November 2014

Drilling starts on first well

20 July 2017

IGas gives notice of application for well test at Ellesmere Port Details

25 January 2018

Cheshire West and Chester councillors vote against IGas plans for well testing at Ellesmere Port Details

25 July 2018

IGas appeals against refusal of planning permission Details

15 January 2019

Opening of Ellesmere Port inquiry Details

6 March 2019

Final session of Ellesmere Port inquiry Details

18 June 2019

Planning Inspectorate confirms that appeal decision has been delayed because inspector wishes to consult over Committee on Climate Change report Details

27 June 2019

Local government secretary recovers Ellesmere Port appeal Details

23 January 2020

Date by which inspector must submit recommendation on Ellesmere Port appeal

DrillOrDrop key facts and timeline for IGas Ellesmere Port site

DrillOrDrop inquiry page for IGas Ellesmere Port inquiry

Woodsetts timeline

3 August 2017

INEOS says it is applying for permission to drill a coring well and carry out a pressure transient test at the site. Details

25 October 2017

Application submitted to Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Woodsetts villagers gather for giant objection photo to send to Downing Street. Details

8 November 2017

Application validated and public consultation begins

12 December 2017

Woodsetts Parish Council announces it will “strongly object” to the application

8 March 2018

Rotherham Borough Council votes unanimously against Ineos shale gas plans for Woodsetts Details

5 June 2018

Ineos announces it will submit a new planning application for Woodsetts Details

31 August 2018

Planners back Ineos shale gas plans for Woodsetts. Details

7 September 2018

Rotherham councillors refuse second Ineos application for Woodsetts. Details and reaction

9 January 2019

Ineos appeals over the refusal of its second application for shale gas exploration at Woodsetts. Details

14 March 2019

Rotherham Borough Council drops highway safety objection to Woodsetts shale gas plans. Details

3 April 2019

Woodsetts Against Fracking launches Crowdjustice fundraiser to pay for legal representation at public inquiry. Details

30 May 2019

Villagers and council oppose plans to screen site with 9ft acoustic barrier. Details

10 June 2019

On eve of inquiry, MP backs “I am Woodsetts” campaign against Ineos shale drilling. Details

11 June 2019

Start of public inquiry on Ineos plans for Woodsetts. Link

20 June 2019

Final session of the public inquiry

DrillOrDrop key facts and timeline for Ineos site at Woodsetts

DrillOrDrop inquiry page for Ineos Woodsetts inquiry

8 replies »

  1. It’s all over, these companies are just trying to squeeze the last bit of cash from the market but investors must surely be getting wise by now?

  2. Really, Jono?

    Seems strange for a company that has just announced plans in the Weald and awaiting further data regarding recent drilling in the E. Midlands. I suspect they have other priorities currently so a delay on Ellesmere Port is no big deal. If I was an investor I would probably join with those who are wise investors in Igas and have been calling for more focus upon key projects rather than the shot gun approach.

  3. Think you are confused with Tesla, John.

    What did Mr. Musk state the share price value would be? What is it? How many $billions being lost PER YEAR? How much profit made? How much dividend? Mr. Musk living on the breadline? How long has the money been “circulating” down the drain?

    Now, that really is the “alternative” blueprint of how to run a business!

    • The claims,

      ‘Members of Cuadrilla’s management team have each played leading roles in the drilling and/or hydraulic fracturing of more than 3,000 natural gas and oil wells across the world.’

      ‘In the Bowland Shale the gas per unit volume of rock ranges from about 0.6 to 1.5 Bcf (billion cubic ft) per metre per square mile’

      ‘If Lancashire is commercial it will be the largest gas field in Western Europe’

      The realities,

      Planning applications to hydraulically fracture the Bowland shale passed unopposed in 2010.

      Full legal access granted.

      Amount of commercial gas produced over the last 9 years,


      Current status. The Industry stating they cannot produce a viable business model under their own agreed technical limitations.

  4. Instead of crystal ball gazing and hypothesising about fracking or for some strange reason comparing a company with major shares in fracking with shares in Tesla(?). Perhaps people should also focus on the new energy reality and the huge benefits that green technologies are bringing now. With the the immense factory to build turbines on the Humber to real life stories like this plus the definite billions of investment to come. 🙂

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