Third Energy’s Ryedale gas fields can continue working until 2035, councillors in North Yorkshire unanimously agreed today, despite hearing that the most recent “meaningful production” at some sites was in 2012.
The county’s planning committee confirmed a resolution made six months ago that it was “minded to approve” applications from the company. DrillOrDrop report
The final decision had been delayed by the Covid-19 outbreak and to wait for a government decision on whether the application needed an environmental investigation.
At its first meeting held online, the committee rejected a request from Frack Free Ryedale to delay the decision for another week to wait for the outcome of a case at the High Court.
A Ryedale resident, Eddie Thornton, is seeking a judicial review of how the regulator, the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA), handled the transfer of Third Energy’s licences to its new owner, York Energy.
A statement from Jim Tucker, of Frack Free Ryedale, said:
“it is likely that among the disclosures to be made may be some previously sensitive commercial documents that could have a material impact on the fitness of Third Energy or their new owners to be granted the extension sought.
“It might therefore be prudent for North Yorkshire County Council to wait until the case comes before the High Court next week on the 14th July before issuing the extension notices.”
But the council’s legal officer, Catriona Gartrell, told the committee:
“[The case] has absolutely no bearing on the matters this morning.”
Jim Tucker also provided data from the OGA on gas production from Third Energy’s Malton Field. He said in his statement:
“This demonstrates the last meaningful production was in 2012 with only a brief test volume in 2016 followed by a minuscule amount in 2018.
He said there had been no gas production at Malton since July 2018:
“I, along with many Ryedale residents, am left wondering why NYCC would be minded to approve a 17 year extension for sites that have not produced commercial quantities of gas for many years and the previous planning permission was conditioned to the effect that consent would terminate if there was no production for 6 months.”
A statement from Third Energy said gas production across the Ryedale fields “has been temporarily ceased”. The statement said this was because of the Covid-19 outbreak and a long-term plan to replace what was described as “ageing equipment” at the Knapton Generating Station.
DrillOrDrop reported last month that the Knapton Generating Station had ceased working in November 2019 and that all the fields had stopped producing. This is the only possible destination for Ryedale gas because the fields are not connected to the national gas network.
Third Energy said production at the Ryedale fields would resume when replacement equipment at Knapton had been confirmed.
On next week’s High Court case, it said:
“Regardless of the results of this case, business will continue as before and it has no bearing on the application.”
The committee agreed to a condition that Third Energy must stop work after four hours if its operations exceeded agreed noise limits.
The company has asked for a less specific condition that required it to work “in accordance with the noise monitoring scheme”.
The council’s head of planning services, Vicki Perkin, told the committee the condition would give clarity for residents.