Regulation

Closing arguments at Loxley/Dunsfold gas inquiry – who said what?

The public inquiry into plans to explore for gas in Surrey closed this morning with final arguments.

Clockwise from top left: the inspector Mike Robins, David Elvin QC for UKOG, Jenny Wigley QC for Surrey County Council, Patrick Arthur for Waverley Borough Council

The online inquiry has sat for nine days of arguments about the proposal by UK Oil & Gas for an exploration site at Loxley near Dunsfold.

The inspector, Mike Robins, has heard from the company, Surrey County Council, Waverley Borough Council and local people and organisations.

He did not give any indication of when he would announce his decision. UKOG has made a partial application for costs.

The county council’s planning committee refused UKOG’s application on highway and landscape grounds in November 2020, against the advice of planning officers. The committee decided:

  1. UKOG had not demonstrated that the highway network was an appropriate standard for site traffic and that it would not have a significant adverse impact on highway safety.
  2. Sufficient information had not been provided for the council to be satisfied there would no significant adverse impact on the appearance, quality and character of the landscape.

In this post, we look at the key issues raised in closing arguments by David Elvin QC, for UKOG, Jenny Wigley QC for the county council, and Patrick Arthur, for borough and parish councils.


Recommendations to the inspector

The inquiry inspector, Mike Robins

Surrey County Council: “the appeal should be dismissed”

Waverley Borough Council: “The inspector is respectfully invited to dismiss the appeal.”

UKOG: “UKOG requests that its proposals should be granted planning permission and the appeal allowed.”


Key arguments

Surrey County Council

“On the basis of the expert evidence given in support of its reasons for refusal, SCC has demonstrated why the proposed development is unacceptable in this location and why the appeal should be dismissed.”

Waverley Borough Council

“Important principles will be set by the grant of permission in relation to the scale and type of development proposed in the planning application. Any future application for oil and gas extraction at the site will rely heavily on the fact that the principle of site access, impact on the [Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty] AONB and valued countryside, as well as impact on local residents and businesses have been considered acceptable. As a result, local residents’ lives and future of local businesses will be greatly impacted.”

UKOG

“the reasons for refusal were in direct conflict with the advice of officers and … do not stand up to close scrutiny. [They] “fail to take account of the policy significance of the proposals, mistake and overstate the objections raised and should be tested against the experienced judgment of SCC officers who twice recommended the grant of permission.


Landscape impact

UKOG

“That the whole of the development can be restored to at least a neutral landscape position within a period of 3 years (or thereabouts) is plainly key to the proper assessment of its effects”.

David Elvin QC for UKOG

David Elvin said UKOG had supported its planning application with:

  • Landscape and visual assessment
  • Extra information and visits
  • Light impact assessments
  • Outline landscape, environment, biodiversity restoration and enhancement plan

There had been no objection on the grounds of insufficient evidence from the county landscape consultant, Surrey Hills AONB planning adviser or Surrey County Council planning officers, Mr Elvin said.

He said UKOG had produced “a thorough and transparent assessment” on the effects of the proposal. It took into account the proximity of the AONB and the local designation as an Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV).

Waverley Borough Council

Mr Arthur said his and the county council’s landscape witnesses had not sought to exaggerate the case. They had “grappled with elements”, he said, where “their judgment simply differed” from that of UKOG’s landscape witness.

He said UKOG’s landscape witness had been “carefully selective” in his treatment of guidance and is some cases was “simply wrong”.

He said it was difficult to comprehend how there could not be an “obvious and harmful impact” on the AONB from drilling rigs, raised well compound, coiled tubing unit, mobile lighting towers, shrouded flares, temporary storage tanks and cabins.

Surrey County Council

Jenny Wigley said the inspector needed to take into account the impact not just of the drilling area but the access track, access onto High Loxley Road and highway works at Pratt’s Corner.

Hedgerows and trees would be removed along High Loxley Road, she said. Site equipment, fencing and passing places would change the rural character of the single-track rural lane.

“The use of the site access itself by heavy goods vehicles [HGVs] trundling across an open field in plain view from the AONB will be discordant in the landscape. The development at the well site will involve extensive earthworks, structures and fencing that are all alien, uncharacteristic and not in keeping with the layout, massing, traditional vernacular form, materials and boundary treatment of the existing rural built environment.”

“The height and scale of proposed vertical structures, including rigs and a crane will stand out beyond any existing tree cover and will 2 adversely affect visual amenity, and views from the AONB.

“All this, coupled with the industrial activity and required night-time lighting, will detract from the tranquil and intimate character of the area.”


Value of the site

UKOG’s landscape witness argued that the proposed Loxley well site was not in a “valued landscape”, even though it was in a designated Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV).

Surrey County Council

“the appeal site is valued in landscape terms. It is within the setting of the AONB, it acts as a buffer to the AONB, it shares characteristics with the AONB (with no detracting features), it includes important features of the AONB and it is within views to and from the AONB.”

The AGLV’s important role was recognised in planning policy, Ms Wigley said. It acted as a buffer and protection to the AONB, she said, and featured sunken lanes, tranquillity and dark skies.


Landscape assessment

Surrey County Council

Jenny Wigley QC for Surrey County Council

Ms Wigley described the landscape assessment by UKOG consultant as “inadequate” and “materially deficient in numerous respects”. She said the shortcomings included:

  • Failed to give the appropriate significance to the view of the proposed site from Hascombe Hill, a strategic view from the AONB
  • Failed to recognise the importance of relatively rare views from the AONB and the relatively rarity of the narrow, winding, single track sunken lane of High Loxley Road
  • Ignored areas of archaeological significance next to the site and all listed buildings in nearby scattered historic farmsteads
  • Failed to explain the important role of recreational routes
  • Narrowly assessed the well site alone, not the entire appeal site or wider site context
  • Failed to acknowledge the valued physical links with the AONB  
  • Failed to include winter views
  • No proper consideration of 4m high security fencing
  • Overestimated benefits of tree and hedge re-planting
  • Underplayed the significance of adverse visual effects

UKOG

Mr Elvin criticised the county council’s landscape witness for:

  • No photographs of winter views
  • Not considering that the reversal of effects would be progressive
  • No consideration in her written evidence about the temporary duration of the development
  • The methodology of her LVIA for the council and an “opaqueness” about how she reached her judgements
  • “No attempt” to discuss her views with council advisers
  • Overstated likely effects on the time it would take for a hedge to become established
  • Failed to take account of a wedding business at High Billinghurst Farm on tranquillity
  • Exaggerated impact of HGVs movements on the site access and clutter of road signs and signals on the highway

Mr Elvin said:

“her focus has been on raising objections to the Appeal Proposals, rather than on providing a balanced and objective description and assessment.”


Felling of Burchetts Wood

The Burchetts mixed ancient and commercial woodland had been relied upon by UKOG to screen the proposed site. During the inquiry, it emerged that thinning of the woodland would begin in the autumn.

UKOG

Mr Elvin said UKOG considered the possible felling of Burchett’s Wood as a worst case scenario. But he concluded that if felling went ahead, it would not substantially change the company’s overall assessments on the impact of the site on the landscape.

The thinning work, due to start in the autumn, was “unlikely to remove the screening currently provided”, he said.

“the clear felling of the wood in its entirety is unlikely within the 3 year period of the proposed development.”

Surrey County Council

Ms Wigley said UKOG’s assessment of the effects of felling were “wholly inadequate” and an assessment had been “scant and inadequate”. Felling was “a realistic and likely prospect”.

The company had argued that the tree line on the site’s northern boundary would have the same screening role as the Burchetts. But Ms Wigley said:

“This is entirely unrealistic in circumstances where that tree line is in single file, all deciduous, not continuous and includes trees subject to ash die back.”

She added:

“The appellants rely on the Burchetts when it suits them and then abandon all reliance on them when it no longer suits them.”


Traffic

The key transport disagreement centred on the suitability of High Loxley Road and Dunsfold Road, near the planned site.

The scheme proposes to widen the Pratts Corner junction between High Loxley Road and Dunsfold Road and part of High Loxley Road itself. Temporary traffic signals are planned for the four arms of the Pratts Corner junction, along with traffic cones and signage. Banksmen will be used when heavy goods vehicles are scheduled.

The inquiry heard that UKOG had not accepted all the recommendations in the road safety audit.

UKOG

David Elvin said there had been detailed discussions between the company and highways officials since June 2018. Planning officers concluded that the proposals were supported by a “realistic and robust” assessment and were capable of delivering safe and suitable access, he said.

Mr Elvin criticised the council’s transport witness for making what he described as “implausible objections”. He also said there was a “serious omission” by the witness in failing to discuss his concerns with highways officers.

On the road safety audit, he said:

“It is misconceived to suggest that the RSA [road safety audit] was not complied with in that there are a few instances where the Appellant has not followed the recommendation proposed.”

He added that the audit recommended possible solutions to safety problems. There may be other acceptable ways they could be overcome, he said.

Waverley Borough Council

“Dunsfold Road and High Loxley Lane are not suitable or adequate to accommodate large heavy goods vehicles and abnormal indivisible load vehicles.”

Mr Arthur added that concerns remained about the traffic management operation and the implications if it failed.

Surrey County Council

“the local highway network is not of an appropriate standard to accommodate the development. Dunsfold Road west of Pratts Corner is unsuitable for HGVs and the agreed condition on routeing will prevent HGVs from travelling to the site from the west. From the east, the turn into High Loxley Road is physically constrained, preventing HGVs from being able to turn in without very significant highway works and traffic management measures.”

On the road safety audit, Ms Wigley said:

“the developer was forced into a risky trade-off between environmental concerns and highway safety. The safety recommendations could simply not be accommodated without increasing the unacceptability of the access arrangements in environmental terms to a degree higher than could be countenanced”

This trade-off was “apparently accepted” by the county highways authority, she said. The risk of drivers violating a red light had been resolved by moving the traffic lights, Ms Wigley said. “This seems far from a satisfactory solution, particularly when the repeated erection, removal and reinstatement of the signals throughout the development period allows scope for signals to be placed in slightly different locations each time.”

On the proposed banksmen, she said:

[this will] rely on a number of steps and a chain of communication (between driver, manager, one banksman and another banksman), all prone to human error and equipment failure.

“this is not a one off occasion, it is a procedure that will need to be used up to 20 times per day (10 two way movements) for up to 56 weeks.”


Heavy goods vehicles

Surrey County Council

Ms Wigley said on up to six occasions, the largest of HGVs visiting the site would be too big to navigate Pratts Corner.

“it will need to pass the junction with High Loxley Road, perform a three point turn back into Dunsfold Common Road and enter High Loxley Road from the west. This will rely on intensive traffic management and cause inconvenience to road users and is another demonstration of the unsuitability of the highway network in the vicinity of the site for the development proposed.”

All the HGVs using the B2130 between Dunsfold Common Road and the A281 would be forced to cross the centre line of the carriage way when negotiating two 90 degree bends, she said.

Ms Wigley criticised UKOG for providing no breakdown of the HGV types and numbers. There is no suggestion that the larger HGVs would be in the minority, she said.

She said the total number of class 4 and above HGVs using the key stretch of the B2130 was 49 westbound  and 41 eastbound over a seven day period. Development traffic would amount to up to 10 two-way HGV movements per day for up to 56 weeks. This is “highly material”, she said. It would “significantly increase the incidences of where the centre line is crossed, and in turn will unacceptably increase highway safety risk”.

UKOG

Mr Elvin said:

“The numbers of HGVs added to the network (to be controlled by condition) is a small percentage of those already on it and will include periods when there are none at all.”

He accused the council’s transport witness of exaggerating additional numbers of HGVs.


Accidents

The council’s traffic witness calculated that the accident rate for the key section of the B2130 was double the largest UK rate since 2009 and nearly four times worse than the latest statistics for this type of road.

Mr Elvin responded:

“the comparisons he sought to draw have no reasonable statistical justification for the manner in which he sought to use them.”

He said the guidance used by the council’s transport witness related to the cost-benefit analysis of trunk road schemes and had “no application whatsoever to the assessment of accidents in safety terms”.

He said the highways authority’s assessment of safety on Dunsfold road was based “on the industry-standard approach of analysing recorded collisions and their circumstances at specific locations, rather than comparison to any national statistics”.


Planning balance

Surrey County Council

“the proposed development is contrary to the development plan and there are no material considerations to justify allowing the appeal as a departure from the plan. The benefits cited by the appellants are largely speculative and illusory and are not to be taken into account.

UKOG’s planning balance was “fatally undermined” by giving them significant weight, Ms Wigley said.

Waverley Borough Council

“The harm demonstrated by the highways and landscape evidence is entitled to substantial weight. The harm of the kind described in the evidence is credible and fully justified, it substantiates the stated reasons for refusal alone.”

Mr Arthur said the proposals were also contrary to 12 policies in the Waverley Local Plan.

UKOG

“the project is not itself a production project but it is an essential prerequisite for the delivery of such projects in the future. This is a material benefit deserving of great weight in the planning balance given the importance of hydrocarbons in latest Government policy including the recently reissues NPPF.”


Planning policy

Planning rules require that permission is granted to comply with the development plan, unless “material considerations indicate otherwise”.

Surrey County Council

“The appeal proposal is in conflict with a number of development plan policies.”

Ms Wigley said these included:

  1. Surrey Minerals Plan policies MC15 (ii) and MC15 (iii) because the highway network was not of an appropriate standard for use by the traffic generated by the development and could not be made appropriate. The development would have a significant impact on highway safety, she said.
  2. Surrey Minerals Plan policy MC14 (iii) because there would be a significant adverse impact on the appearance, quality and character of the landscape. There was also insufficient information for a proper assessment of landscape impacts
  3. Surrey Minerals Plan policy MC12 because the site identification report was “entirely inadequate” to demonstrate that the site had been selected to minimise adverse impacts on the environment.
  4. Waverley Borough Local Plan policy RE3 which states that the setting of the AONB will be protected where development outside its boundaries harms public views from or into the AONB
  5. National Planning Policy Framework paragraph 111 because of the “unacceptable impact on highway safety
  6. NPPF 174 (a) and (b) because of landscape impacts
  7. NPPF 211 (e) because restoration and aftercare would not be carried out at the earliest opportunity
  8. NPPF 176 because the proposal constituted “insensitive development in the setting of the AONB”. The adverse impacts on the AONB should be accorded great weight in the planning balance.

UKOG

Mr Elvin said the proposal complied with national and local planning policy. He referred to:

NPPF 209: “It is essential that there is a sufficient supply of minerals to provide the…energy… that the country needs. Since minerals are a finite natural resource and can only be worked where they are found, best use needs to be made of them to secure their long-term conservation.”

NPPF 211: Great weight should be given to the benefits of mineral extraction.

NPPF 215: Decision-makers are encouraged to distinguish between the different phases of onshore gas development. It also states they should “plan positively” for them.

He disputed there were conflicts with Surrey Minerals Plan policies. Even if there were some “residual conflict”, he said, “it would be outweighed by the benefits generated by the appeal proposals together with other material considerations”. He said policy MC12 does not require a comparative assessment of sites.


Site identification report

Surrey County Council

“The Site Identification Report is woefully inadequate to demonstrate how the site has been selected and to demonstrate in any respect that it is the least worst in environmental terms. It simply does not show whether or how adverse impacts on the environment have been minimised by site selection.”

Ms Wigley criticised aspects of the report, including:

  • Technical constraints of drilling not set out
  • Sieving process was “entirely opaque” and no “clarity” about how judgements were made in short-listing sites
  • Unclear how the proposed site, with policy and environmental constraints, made it to the shortlist
  • No objective comparison between the 23 shortlisted sites
  • No landscape or highways expertise used in site selection

She said:

“Where a proposal is in breach of development plan policies, will cause planning … and is sought to be justified by need, the availability of alternative sites is very likely to be an important material planning consideration.”

Waverley Borough Council

Mr Arthur said:

“The alternative site selection is not considered to be robust, the absolute need to utilise this site has not been justified.”

UKOG

“There is no general requirement for decision-makers to consider alternatives in respect of planning applications outside of EIA or certain specific kinds of development such as communications masts.”

A site selection report was not a formal requirement in Surrey Minerals Plan, Mr Elvin said

“[It] was in fact a record of the wider site search process which he carried out on behalf of the Appellant. That process was not targeted at finding the “least worst site” but was about finding areas of lesser environmental and policy constraint within an area where the technical requirements of the project could be met.”

He said neither Surrey County Council or Waverley Borough Council had identified other available sites with a smaller environmental impact. He said:

“the Site has been selected to minimise adverse impacts, having regard to the physical constraints of the geology and the location of the maximum gas concentration.”


Duration

If permission were granted, Surrey County Council said the duration of the development should be limited by a condition to 20 months, not the 36 months applied for.

Ms Wigley said:

“Contingency on contingency is provided in the programme, including significant time for procurement delays, preparation of tenders, final tender evaluation, contract preparation and regulatory processes all of which can be undertaken pre-commencement and which do not need to prolong the harmful landscape and highways effects.”

She said the proposed retention period of 26 weeks “serves no useful purposes”. It would not allow time to apply for production permission but it did, she said, “unacceptably lengthen the harmful landscape and highway effects of this application”. The three period was not justified, she said.

Mr Elvin said the proposed 20 month duration was “not acceptable and should be rejected. He said the issue had not been raised earlier by Surrey County Council officers or councillors. It was inconsistent with the approach taken by the council at the company’s Horse Hill site, Mr Elvin said.

“3 years is the period which the Appellant considers is reasonably required to carry out the various phases of works described in the planning statement and to build in flexibility for delays and issues arising as well as allowing time for appraisal of the results.”

He said:

“it is acknowledged that there is significant potential for contingencies. Nonetheless, if the operation can be concluded earlier then it will.”


Benefits and need

UKOG

The company argued that significant weight should be given to benefits of the proposal for UK security of gas supply, economic benefits of production, and reducing imports and carbon emissions.

Mr Elvin said national and local policy recognised a “compelling need” exploration and exploitation of new gas reserves. It was an “essential plank” of the government’s strategy to reduce carbon emissions, he said.

“it cannot be ignored that this application is an essential prerequisite to securing such benefits and without it they cannot be obtained. The application should therefore be viewed in that context and in the light of the fact that Government energy policy requires the continuation of a secure energy supply and the production of gas notwithstanding climate change issues and the move towards Net Zero by 2050.”

Surrey County Council

Ms Wigley said planning practice guidance stated that applications for exploration should “not take account of hypothetical future activities for which consent has not yet been sought.”

She said:

“All the claimed benefits of extraction to which Mr Moore accords significant weight fall within the category of ‘hypothetical future activities’ which cannot be taken into account.”

She accused the company’s planning consultant of a “have cake and eat it” line by not taking into account adverse environmental effects of production.

She also said economic benefits described by UKOG’s chief executive, Stephen Sanderson, were “irrelevant” to the hearing because they were potential benefits of a future application. Most of the £6-£7m investment in exploration at Loxley would be for specialist equipment and expertise, available only nationally or internationally. She said: “Any ancillary local investment is entirely unquantified and unparticularised.”

Waverley Borough Council

“Alternatives to meeting the nations energy needs in a more sustainable form are already available. The production and use of fossil fuels will harm the environment; this is now an undisputed fact. Any appraisal of the national benefit of these resources must be balanced against the cost to wider society and the harm to the fragile environment we live in.”


High Billinghurst Farm

The inquiry heard evidence about the impact of the proposed site and roadworks on a wedding venue at High Billinghurst Farm and the approach along High Loxley Road.

UKOG

“only a small portion of High Loxley Road will be affected by the widening and junction works and the creation of the access. These impacts will be limited to the life of the permission and that portion will not be visible from HBF itself.”

Daily HGV movements would be limited by planning conditions and restricted to before 1pm on Friday and Saturdays, Mr Elvin said. Site operational noise would be low, he said, and below that allowed by the wedding venue.

He also said there was no evidence that the drilling rig would be visible from the part of High Billinghurst Farm used as a wedding venue.


Thatched House Farm

The owner of Thatched House Farm had told the inquiry that UKOG’s measurement for the distance   of the site from his home was inaccurate.

Mr Elvin said:

“This is not the case. As is clearly set out, Thatched House Farm has been measured to be 320m between the centre of the well site and the exterior wall of the receptor. This is the relevant metric, representing as it does the distance between the acoustic centre of the noise producing activity (which as can be seen from the plans the drilling activity may even be centred slightly further south) and the receptor itself.”

He said conditions would limit noise during day and night and levels would be judged close to the property.


Dunsfold Garden Village

The inquiry had also heard that the UKOG proposals could put off people from buying homes on the new housing estate at Dunsfold Aerodrome. There were also concerns about the potential impact on the Dunsfold travellers’ site.

Waverley Borough Council

“Environmental searches conducted on behalf of prospective purchasers of property in the area by their legal advisors are already being alerted to the prospect of onshore oil and gas exploration and production. The perception of operations associated with gas and oil extraction under the site may be a deterrent to some purchasers – even if fracking is not part of the extraction process.”

UKOG

“it is clear that any concerns which prospective purchasers would have here would not be material given that (a) such concerns would be baseless and (b) the concerns are plainly at nowhere near a high enough level to discourage the occupation of such dwellings.”


Climate change

The inquiry heard evidence that the proposal contradicted climate change policy.

Mr Elvin said continued reliance on gas was an essential part of government thinking on energy and climate change mitigation.

Mr Arthur referred to last week’s report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which said the world was at “code red” on climate change. Mr Arthur said:

“there is no time for delay and no room for excuses.

“A further reduction in the exploration and mining of gas and oil has been made possible as renewable energy, biofuel and hydrogen technologies and outputs have developed and increased significantly in the past ten years.”


Other issues

Fracking: Mr Elvin said this was not an application for fracking – the target rock was already fractured.

Common land: Waverley Borough Council remained concerned that highway work would encroach on common land.

Bond: Waverley Borough Council continued to ask for a bond to ensure that highway and landscape is restored within timescales agreed.

Click here for links to other DrillOrDrop reports from the inquiry here

11 replies »

  1. Such a shame that the original application (29/04/2019) has now been overtaken by the reliance of gas when it hardly got a mention to start with. It wasn’t until July 2020 that UKOG started pushing the gas element to the oil field prior to the rerun of the planning meeting.

    “…..He explained it could deliver “the energy equivalent to heat around 100,000 households per year, or to power around 200,000 households per year with electricity”.”

    The next stage in the argument was to introduce “…”We take comfort that the future of Loxley as a low-impact hydrogen feedstock project…”

    The mention of hydrogen gas has only recently appeared in the documentation provided for the Inquiry so make of it what you will.

    It will be interesting to see what the Inspector makes of it all as SCC QC missed a number of issues imo.

  2. Makes me wonder how the Dunsfold Garden “village” was approved, if the above points are such a real consideration. The level of disruption etc from the two proposed developments is to a completely different scale, and the much larger one is permanent. Maybe the Inspector will go for the “no more” approach, or maybe, “tiny in comparison” approach. Never possible to pre guess, but will be interesting. The “no more” one is not that sustainable at an Enquiry, however. See where solar farms have enabled other developments to follow-often conveniently ignored by supporters of that industrialisation of the countryside.

  3. Thank you, Ruth for another comprehensive report. What amazes me is that Planning Officers are allowed to recommend to the Planning Committee which way they should vote. Also did Wavelerly Council get the bond they wanted? If so, is it sufficient to cover the making good of ALL the areas involved? Who holds this bond or is it just a “word thing”?

    • Hi Sarah,
      Such recommendation seems reasonable but it is in no way binding upon the committee advised. The planning officer’s legal and professional expertise should be and is given due weight as a guide but the committee is responsible for its own decisions and a good committee will heed the advice and also use its own judgement having listened also to constituents and to other interested parties as well as applying its own knowledge and moral compass. A bad committee will slavishly accept and, if necessary hide behind the advice given.
      North Yorkshire’s decision to allow fracking at Kirby Misperton is an example of a bad decision slavishly to follow the planning officer’s recommendation and the Conservative Party line despite thousands of objections from individuals, NGOs, and the relevant District Council.The end, it seems, was a happy one, thanks largely to protestors and demonstrations, but not neglecting the financial problems protest caused for the business concerns involved.

  4. Why amazed, Sarah? It is the responsibility of the Planning Officers and the Legal Officers to use their professional knowledge to try and prevent Councils wasting tax payers money-like the £400k costs awarded at Wressle when the Councillors ignored their advice.

    • What a ridiculous comment That’s Like saying Doctors shouldn’t use consultants.
      Planning Officers do this for a living. where your planning committee is taken from all walks of life & Lets face it many haven’t got a clue & rely on what their mates think they should do so would you want your doctor to consult with the shopkeeper down the road on diagnosing your treatment ?

  5. If you want to believe 1720, Sarah, your choice. Just remember, 1720 was the year of the South Sea Bubble where many were fooled.

    However, planning issues are not a situation where UDI can be declared by a committee without consequences.

    I suspect you are able to think for yourself and not so willing to accept what is obviously a flawed and politically motivated piece of fake news. But, consider if Planning Committees were able to make decisions that were not consistent with the regulations. An absolute field day for the legal profession who would just have the ability to reference thousands of situations that were contrary to an individual Committee decision, and cost the tax payers a fortune in the process. Committees do require to work within a common framework and that is the advice the Officers give. They can ignore that advice, and then there are Appeals-usually. Equally, without that framework it would open the door to applicants being able to exert influence upon a Committee to produce not only inconsistent but illegal outcomes, for their individual benefit.

    I have attended Appeals and sat near to Officers who within the first 10 minutes of the Appeal could be heard chatting that the outcome was already determined, as the original decision could not be sustained, and several days later they were proven correct.

    And, if you are still not convinced, then do some research and you will see that KM final outcome was because of a moratorium placed upon fracking by that same Conservative Party. Prior to that, it was obvious that no other fracking would be allowed until PNR had completed. Not the same as some would like to claim, but they have a previous disconnect with recent history. (And do not be fooled by all those “thousands of objections” at KM. If you trawl back and do a bit of research you might find there was serious concern with regard to the validity of many of them! In addition, it is the substance within objections that are considered, not the numbers. Planning Officers are not idiots, they recognise what goes on.)

    So, my advice would be look at the facts. There are those who would like to provide you with a choice of fake news. I suspect you are intelligent enough to differentiate. Remember the South Sea Bubble.

    • Kirby Misperton – the government didn’t give fracking consent due to concerns over Third Energy’s financial situation and failure to file accounts. Minister delays fracking permit This was still the position when the moratorium on fracking was issued.

      Regarding the hacked emails, we are currently trying to find out from the police what the outcome to the complaint was. There were 4375 formal objections to the well at Kirby Misperton.

  6. As stated, it was obvious to all, apart from the protestors, that no fracking other than PNR would be allowed until PNR had demonstrated success, due to previous history. The ways to achieve that are various. But, thanks Paul, for pointing out it was not due to “protestors and demonstrations”.

    So, Sarah, you do need to keep an eye open for fake news.

    Isaac Newton, who did get caught by the South Sea Bubble, didn’t call it fake news but “irrational exuberance”. Not much changes, just the terms.

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