Friday, May 11, 2018

News: INEOS' Harthill planning decision awaited

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Planning officers at Rotherham Council are unsure if the Government's planning inspector will approve or refuse plans for a test drilling well at Harhill.

During the course of the recent public inquiry, Rotherham Council has been satisfied by the proposed mitigation from oil and gas exploration and production business, INEOS.

INEOS appealed to the Planning Inspectorate over the non-determination of the application for a drilling rig on Greenbelt land between the villages of Harthill and Thorpe Salvin.

The Council had set out its stance against the scheme with reasons for refusal focusing on highways issues and a lack of detail in the submitted ecological reports.

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.

Shortly before the public inquiry, INEOS submitted further details which meant that the Council's transport planner had to put forward the authority's views at the inquiry whilst having the professional opinion that the updated mitigation proposals would mean that the application could be approved on transport issues.

The inquiry, which ended last week, heard objections from the Council and from local and national campaign groups whilst INEOS put forward reasons why the plans should be approved.

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Chris Wilkins, development manager at Rotherham Council, said: "We are waiting now for a decision from the inspector - anticipated to be four to six weeks. Hand on heart, I've got no idea which way it will go.

"Obviously INEOS put up extra information late on in terms of highways. And the ecology issue, we felt, was addressed during part of the inquiry process but residents were there raising a number of concerns that the inspector has to take into account before he comes to his decision."

Wilkins added that the authority has not yet had any follow up to INEOS's second set of plans for a similar exploratory well at Woodsetts that were refused by the planning board in March. The Council is anticipating that INEOS will either appeal the decision or submit a revised application with new studies to address the concerns of the council ecologist.

The company is hoping to carry out tests on the suitability of the area for hydraulic fracturing.

INEOS website

Images: UKSE

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