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.”
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.