Friday, May 19, 2017

News: INEOS steps up search for shale in Rotherham

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Planners at Rotherham Council have ruled that a proposed test drilling operation on a Greenbelt site by INEOS' oil and gas exploration and production business "would not be likely to have significant effects on the environment" in relation to national planning guidelines.

Rothbiz reported in March on the details of INEOS' plans for a site between the villages of Harthill and Thorpe Salvin for shale gas exploration, which involves building a drilling rig and drilling vertically, deep into the ground to find out how much gas is in the shale.

The application would provide temporary permission for a maximum of five years and the operation would involve various site investigation surveys and site preparation before a period of drilling, coring and testing. A well would be drilled to approximately 2,800 m using a drill rig of maximum 60 m rig height followed by three months of testing. It would use large plant, machinery and HGVs in site development and operationally.

The Common Road site would be restored after the activity has taken place and tests will be carried out on the suitability of the area for hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

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Rotherham Council planners have now determined that the proposed project falls outside the remit of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations which were established as part of national planning policies to ensure that local planning authorities make decisions in the full knowledge of the likely significant effects, and takes this into account in the decision making process.

The proposal would be EIA development if, in the opinion of the Mineral Planning Authority (in this case, Rotherham Council), it were likely to have "significant effects on the environment by virtue of factors such as its nature, size or location."

The main reasons for this application not falling in the remit of EIA development is that it does not involve extraction of gas, it is not located in a "sensitive area" or flood risk area, the site exceeds 1 hectare, and that impact from noise, dust and any visual impact from the drill rigs are not likely to be significant in the context of the EIA regulations as any operations would be temporary.

The Council concludes: "The impacts from the proposed development are found not to be likely to be so significant, either individually or collectively, such as to require EIA. The conclusion which is therefore reached on behalf of the Council is that the proposed development would not be likely to have significant effect on the environment, in terms of the EIA Regulations."
Whilst it is not considered EIA development, Chris Wilkins, development manager at Rotherham Council, told the applicants: "Members have requested that INEOS be asked to submit an EIA with any subsequent application in order that all of the environmental issues can be fully assessed, and so as to hopefully address the significant concerns that have been raised by local residents to Members."

INEOS said that it plans to submit a planning application to Rotherham Council "in the near future."

Tom Pickering, operations director at INEOS Shale, said: "We are very pleased that the latest step in the process has now been completed. While we are not required to complete a formal EIA, all relative environmental concerns will be addressed as part of the application and we are looking forward to continuing to work with the Council and community to discuss these as the project moves forward."

Meanwhile, INEOS has confirmed its plans to carry out a shale gas survey on 25,000 hectares of land covered by Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire County Councils and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. The areas in Rotherham include Harthill and Thorpe Salvin.

Formal notification has recently been sent to Derbyshire County Council stating the firm's intention to carry out a 3D seismic survey for six months from early June.

INEOS has also submitted a planning application to explore shale gas reserves on an area of privately−owned land off Bramleymoor Lane, between Marsh Lane and Apperknowle, near Eckington.

INEOS website

Images: INEOS


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