Ineos pursues S Yorks shale gas plan, despite fracking moratorium

190502 Harthill Dod4

Ineos shale gas site at Common Road, Harthill, 2 May 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Ineos has told residents in south Yorkshire that the government’s fracking moratorium announced earlier this month does not affect its shale gas plans for the village of Harthill.

The company was granted planning permission in June 2018 to drill and test a vertical shale gas well on the edge of the village. It did not seek consent to frack the well but has not ruled out submitting another application to do this in future.

Les Barlow, of Harthill Against Fracking, said an Ineos representative “advised that the moratorium has no effect on the Harthill site since they are not fracking”.

Mr Barlow added:

“Although Ineos say they are progressing with the construction plan for passing places, we will not weaken our resolve in contesting everything they do to move towards industrialising our beautiful countryside.”

191025 Harthill CMP phases

Location of passing places required for Ineos lorry route to shale gas site at Common Road, Harthill, south Yorkshire. Source: Ineos Shale construction management plan

No work has been carried out at the site, off Common Road. But Ineos recently submitted an updated version of plans to create passing places on the lorry route.

The passing places and the plan to construct them must be approved by Rotherham Borough Council. This is one of 11 conditions that have to be satisfied before site work can start.

Ineos has agreed to build 23 passing places along 4.3km of narrow roads near the site.

The revised construction management plan (CMP) is dated 25 October 2019, before the moratorium was announced on 2 November 2019. Ineos Harthill construction management plan 25 10 19 (pdf)

Rotherham Borough Council said the document would be published online but would not be the subject of a formal consultation. DrillOrDrop understands that residents in Harthill are expected to comment on it.

A planning officer said the council had a statutory 12 weeks in which to approve the pre-work planning conditions. But the process sometimes took longer, the official said.

According to the CMP, the work on the passing places will affect Boundhay Lane, Common Road and Packman Lane. It will be carried out in five phases over an estimated period of six weeks. Each road will be closed during construction.

Ineos said it would identify landowners and businesses that needed regular access to their land along the route. It also said it have “regular conversations” with the emergency services about the construction plans and would ask Harthill Parish Council to help keep the community informed.

DrillOrDrop asked Ineos several times about the impact of the moratorium on its UK shale gas plans but received no response.

12 replies »

  1. So there we have it. The moratorium does not affect shale gas exploration sites, it does not affect fracking that uses less than 10,000m3 of water, it does not prevent new planning applications, it does not stop acid fracking, and it can be lifted at any time.
    I think we can conclude that it is nothing more than an election stunt after all.

    • Just a note on the ineffectiveness of the moratorium – according to Bloomberg, China is continuing to expand its coal fired electricity generation….

      “the nation has almost 148 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity under active construction or likely to be resumed after being suspended, Global Energy Monitor, a non-profit group that tracks coal stations, said in the report Thursday based on plant-by-plant data. That’s almost equivalent to 150 gigawatts of existing coal fleet capacity in the EU and more than the combined 105 gigawatts under construction in the rest of the world, it said.”

      In other words almost any green initiative in the U.K. will make almost no difference to global warming. Sorry it’s an inconvenient truth.

      While I’m ranting, may I say that my real and genuine fear is that current U.K. energy policy will leave us with insufficient reliable back-up supplies to fill in when weather dependent wind and solar electricity generation fall short. Such a scenario could result in real hardship. We will have to hope that the forthcoming electricity capacity auctions attracts investors in reliable supply.

      • It seems then that we’d better fill that shortfall with more solar and wind rather than a whole new fossil fuel Industry then.

  2. It seems unlikely that Ineos is engaging in philanthropy or in a genuine desire for the common good in entering into road-improving mode by providing 23 passing places it does not intend to use. The likelihood of fracking apart, does the local community welcome such road improvement, or does it fear that traffic use, increased pollution, hazards to local traffic, cyclists and walkers, will increase as a result of the ‘improvements’? Should the community take the moratorium at face value, and launch a new objection to an unnecessary improvement? Should it not ask why Ineos is improving the roads if it does not intend to exploit its findings? This might force Ineos to reveal its hand.

  3. This ban is obviously nothing more that an election stunt . As if anyone in their right mind would vote for this vile party for promoting fracking in the first place !

  4. Hmmm

    The passing place plan was submitted before the moratorium but….

    Les Barlow, of Harthill Against Fracking, said an Ineos representative “advised that the moratorium has no effect on the Harthill site since they are not fracking” ( indeed, just drilling and having a look i guess ).

    Maybe INEOS are keen to test the shale and compare and contrast with the Misson results.

    However, I am sure that nothing will be done in terms of passing place construction prior to and for a while after the election, so once again, fracking plans drift along at a pace suited to there being a forthcoming election and fracking being kicked into the long grass ( the long grass being bounded by the need for some new information on seismic risk it seems ).

    I doubt that sir Jim would be willing to spend cash prior to an election just for fun although if he really wanted to test the Moratorium he would encourage I Gas to ask for permission to frack Misson via a frack consent?

  5. Government halt on fracking is an election stunt. Not only are they just waiting to give companies the go ahead but are sending money allotted to green energy to other countries to help them set up fracking projects . Sign the 38 degree petition to maintain the current traffic light regulations on seismic activity which will hopefully make the industry uneconomic for the companies.

    • Be careful what you wish for. It may well prove that the current TLS is perfectly adequate for hydraulic fracture stimulation of shales in other areas of the country including the areas INEOS is working in.

      • Great thing about earthquakes is that they may follow relatively rapidly upon oil and gas activity, and can (given independent, honest seismologists) reasonably be directly linked to the oil or gas activity (frack, release of pressure, I was going to say re-injection, but that might take time). And they get publicity, and members of the public who have not been willing to listen begin to listen. Earthquakes have always been way down my list of fracking worries. It will take time for the general public to realise that fracking or acidising would industrialise the countryside, not just in these isolated places but with a plethora of sites across regions, in places where people’s back yards currently feel safe. It will take a while for respiratory illnesses, cancers etc to become apparent, a pattern of birth defects… It will take time for anyone to understand the filthiness and pollution potential of the waste water, returned, flowing back, produced, call it what you will, super-super-saline, heavy metals, low-level radioactivity, but then not so low-level when concentrated if treated, and super-super-super-super saline, not to mention the injected chemicals. Earthquakes may come faster, and yes, are definitely on the list. Very frightening for those who have experienced them, who fear their return. There is good evidence that the unprecedented Surrey earthquakes are oil exploration related, and that was not even a frack, not yet.

  6. It could be that they’re just trundling through the planning process as they’ve already parted with the brass, but it’s hard to believe that such an influential and mercenary company as INEOS would waste their money on actual construction without having an inkling that the moratorium is worthless electioneering, or that it won’t include fracking that isn’t fracking (according to the IA). They’re more likely to have an inside track to the thinking of the Tories than any of us. Presumably, they would have no qualms about the ill effects and local disruption of closing these roads for a development that allegedly won’t be allowed, as they have a history of closing roads purely for their own convenience.

  7. 12 weeks to dertermine? I thought it was 16, and that that was just for fracking sites, since the Tories began bullying councils on the subject. I am bored with planning, but I think it’s 16? If it calls itself a frack site? Those planners should lie back and think of England.

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