Regulation

Egdon and campaigners clash over fracture plan for Wressle as inquiry ends

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Egdon Resources’ Wressle well site in North Lincolnshire, subject of a public inquiry in November 2019. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

The government’s moratorium on fracking will not affect plans to enhance oil and gas production in north Lincolnshire, Egdon Resources said today.

Speaking on the final day of a public inquiry, the company’s barrister, Hereward Phillpot QC said the recent ministerial statement did not apply to proposals to stimulate the well at Wressle:

“No hydraulic fracturing consent is required in this case and hence the government’s decision in relation to such consents does not affect this scheme.”

He said the proppant squeeze planned at Wressle was “different in both the scale and purpose from associated hydraulic fracturing”. The resulting fracture would be “much more limited”, he said.

But opponents of the company’s proposals said the inquiry had revealed that Egdon planned to use a form of hydraulic fracturing and that the operation required a hydraulic fracturing plan.

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Elizabeth Williams at an earlier refusal of planning permission for the Wressle site, 11 January 2017. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Campaigner Elizabeth Williams was not allowed to sum up her case against the company. But speaking after the close of the inquiry she said:

“I have argued at every stage that what Egdon is proposing is hydraulic fracturing for conventional oil and, as such, it should be defined as associated hydraulic fracturing.

“At the very least we have persuaded the company to disclose that what it is intending is something like an acid frack and that they are using well stimulation with a form of hydraulic fracturing.

“Egdon has become more explicit in its responses and in its summing up. The company’s QC has referred to acid squeeze and hydraulic fracturing. So at the very least we have brought the facts out into the open.

“This is by no means small scale and conventional.”

The inquiry, chaired by planning inspector Phillip Ware, heard that Egdon sought permission for 15 years of oil and gas production at the site near Scunthorpe.

The company was appealing against a unanimous refusal of planning permission in November 2018 by North Lincolnshire Council.

Four months ago, the council dropped its objections and withdrew its case against the company. The only challenge to the proposals at the three-day inquiry was from residents and campaigners.

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Hereward Phillpot QC, for Egdon, at the Wressle inquiry, 6 November 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

In his closing statement, Mr Phillpot said none of the objections they raised could “properly be said to justify the refusal of planning permission”.

He said Egdon and the council agreed that the proposed development was acceptable. There would be “substantial benefits” from the scheme, he said. Any residual adverse effects would not be significant and could be controlled or mitigated by conditions.

A new impermeable liner would be laid at the site to address concerns raised by the inspector at a previous inquiry into the proposals two years ago, Mr Phillpot said.

“A good deal of the opposition is directed at what are regarded by objectors as short-comings in current government policy and a desire for there to be changes to the regulatory framework that govern the proposed development.”

He said the proposals met both local and national planning policy. He dismissed concerns about earth tremors, air pollution and climate change.

Mr Phillpot said:

“There is no evidence that production of oil as a result of the proposed development would lead to a net increase in the consumption of hydrocarbons and overall emissions of greenhouse gases.

“Domestic production does not increase overall emissions but is likely to reduce them and should properly be regarded as a small but important part of a more sustainable low carbon future.”

He described objections as “ill-founded, irrelevant and/or not capable of justifying the refusal of planning permission.”

He also criticised members of the public, who he described as “seasoned objectors”, for not submitting advance copies of their statements to the inquiry.

Ms Williams said:

“We are profoundly disappointed that we have not had the chance to sum up but I can genuinely say that the inspector has given us a fair and thorough hearing at every stage.

“Egdon’s QC’s reference to “seasoned objectors” goes nowhere close to acknowledging the vast amount of hard work involved in challenging the company’s proposals. It has been a long highly stressful process. We do this not because we enjoy it but as a public duty.”

Andrew McLeod, another speaker at the inquiry, said:

” Egdon’s QC complains that we are “seasoned objectors” and that we didn’t (we weren’t asked to!) submit our evidence ahead of the inquiry.

“As if either of these things detract from the quality and substance of our evidence, and as if the odds were not already stacked heavily in Egdon’s favour by the extremely regrettable decision of North Lincolnshire Council to withdraw their case and not even try to protect the environment and the well-being of future generations, as they had so steadfastly done on all previous occasions when they considered this unwanted and unnecessary proposal.”

191106 WI 4 Andrew McLeod DoD

Andrew McLeod at the Wressle inquiry, 6 November 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Jean Turner, who also made a statement to the inquiry, said:

“The previous inquiry led to numerous changes following the many errors and omissions that had been highlighted.

“At this inquiry, I drew attention to risk that flaring up to 10 tonnes a day for 15 years will further escalate the high reported levels of pollution that already existing, especially particulates PM2.5, resulting in more local illness.”

Mrs Turner also criticised the company for dismissing the risk of seismic activity and traffic problems on the proposed lorry route.

Amanda Suddeby said:

“I am disappointed that the planning system makes it so difficult for members of the public to influence decision-making.”

The inspector said his decision would not be released until after the general election on 12 December 2019.

Egdon Resources has applied for costs against the council.

  • News updates from Day 1 and Day 2 of the inquiry

Reporting from the inquiry was made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers

16 replies »

  1. It was noted, on day 1, that Egdon had applied for costs against the council, and the council chap agreedtnat this was the case.
    So..presumably the discussion will be about ‘how much’, and not ‘if any’.

    Plus, good that Egdon ( in their pre enquiry documentation ) are now explicit about their plans re acid, potential frack and potential sidetrack.

    • Good job the Inspector kept this short and sweet then!

      QCs don’t come cheap.

      The Council could always close another service to the residents. “Alternatively”, they could ask the Councillors who rejected to pay the costs. LOL

  2. I think the council should pay all the cost that the oil companies have spent on trying to get good oil out from the ground and the councillors who rejected it should pay out if there own money

  3. I recall that the costs claim goes to a separate entity at the Planning Inspectorate and there are strict guidelines for what is a valid claim. And I don’t think you can claim if you lose. You can claim against more than one party and have to prove unreasonable behaviour in the Planning and appeal process such as invalid reasons for refusal by the planning authority. However I have only been on the council side when our Rule 6 party were twice awarded
    Costs against a wind farm developer for improper
    behaviour during their appeals for refusal of wind farms. PhilC it is 1215pm here in case you are concerned?

  4. Interesting item on Radio4 this morning about the total U turn of treasury advice about government spending.

    The perceived danger now is private debt, and a starved economy.

    That being the massive Ponzi scheme money flood that banksters pour finance into the bottomless pit of zombie corporations. The hope is to kick start the money flow back to government economy.

    But it never gets outside of private incestuous multiple offshore tax haven companies who are thrown countlesss trillions in the hope of draw down back to the capitalisation of entire countries economies.

    That hope for devolved finance and draw down back to the economy never happens, The zombie companies simply make their multiple offshore companies vastly richer and the finance never emerges from their bank accounts.

    All that happens is the trillions make billions for private offshore tax haven companies. The rest is salted away. No draw down to the economy at all. That sudden treasury realisation change of focus is far far too late.

    One could only point at the empty promises of the fossil fuel extraction and private finance extraction in the onshore fracking debacle. No economic value whatsoever. And never intended to be. These companies only exist in debt. No profits, no tax return other than peanuts and fake news.

    Ponzi is as Ponzi does.

    Ha! Ha! Doesn’t worry me old fruit, I often work nights so I know what working late is all about. But if it grouches you, talk to the Martian, Chronos abuse is one of his multiple hang ups. I just pointed out the hypocritical blinkers.

    Short and sweet and concise enough for you?

    Have A Nice Day!

    • Not sure what my being in India had to do with what Martin posts or working late but clearly you have a connection? I recommend a visit to help clarify your thinking.

      • Don’t ask me, talk to the Martian about Chronos abuse.

        I do hope you enjoy India. How is the smog by the way? All those fossil fuels and crop stubble burning. Just like UK in twenty years time unless we do something about it isn’t it.

        With all that India pollution and smog we hear so much about, clarity must be rare, if not impossible?

        It’s all floods back here in blighty, a month of rain in 24 hours flooding cities and warnings about threats to life. The local river has overflooded its banks, river banks that is, not the financial variety.

        There have been torrents pouring down from the hillsides above here, one poured mud across a nearby road which is being cleared as we speak.

        Not climate change of course. Perish the thought!

        Enjoy India.

        • Very enjoyable and no smog so far. Apparently we will experience it tomorrow when we get back to Delhi. Stubble burning at the wrong time for smog apparently. Seems the UK flooding is Very localised on Sheffield/ Doncaster area? Certainly not in North Lancashire or where Martin lives. At least you appear to agree that there are much bigger climate change drivers than the UK. I recall we banned stubble burning a long time ago. We just need to stop the heather moors being burnt for the sad Victorian grouse shooting elite. Perhaps ER need to come out here to make a difference? Although the traffic does a pretty good job of shutting the roads already. Great country and everyone should visit.

          • Flooding across the East Pennines and across East Notts / Lincolnshire.

            Apart from the troubles in Sheffield ( Meadowhall area on news ) and the Don in Doncaster, plenty of local flooding in Lincs villages due to the heavy rain overwhelming the local drainage system. Ditto a few worrying hours north of Newark in the ‘on Trent’ villages.

            The Witham is getting higher as is the linked Fossdyke canal / associated drainage system. Pumping overnight has upped the level a few feet, and flood areas are filling up nicely. Boats on the canal now overlook Saxilby, rather than being hidden.

            Pumps ready for more rain to come and more ‘flood plains’ bring flooded to hold the water.

            Every cloud has a silver lining.

            The Lincolnshire Wold chalk streams are happy. It is a shame that we cannot keep the water and pipe it to the South East, where high levels of extraction have / is destroying the chalk stream ecosystem. Flood plains are also happy getting all that silt.

            So, lots of water, but not where you want it when you really need it.

            More storage and a better transmission system required I guess. Water / electricity same same, but storing water and moving it about is not complex technology. Maybe a few billion from the recently discovered money trees can solve the issue ( discovered by all parties it seems ).

  5. Hi Paul.

    Enjoy India.

    The day may soon arrive when they develop their gas reserves and replace the need to chop down the forests and destroy the tiger habitat.

    I understand fracking may be part of the plan-shock/horror!! Fracking=bad, tigers=good: an interesting challenge for the PR chaps. (return of -“put a tiger in your tank”??) Yes, I am that old.

    No floods here in UK. Indeed, only a few days ago there were antis posting about how we were all about to die from heat and drought. Early November and a sharp frost, snow forecast further north. (My parsnips will be worth digging after another couple of days of the same.)

    UK climate mixture-as usual- for November.

    Leek and potato soup weather-or, curries!

  6. Eddy Stone is a lighthouse that is renowned for shining a beacon of light through the fog and helping those who wish to navigate the dangerous waters where fog can distort the reality.

    For some who have problems with English:

    Here in the UK

    is a bit different to

    Here, in the UK

    But I suspect that light has already been observed by many, and they have moved away into clear waters.

    Time for shopping before our rain arrives later today. Thankfully, not too much of it for South Yorkshire.

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