Friday, August 31, 2018

News: INEOS Woodsetts plans recommended for approval

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INEOS' re-submitted plans for a second test drilling well in Rotherham are being recommended for approval, having previously been refused by the Council's planning board.

Rothbiz reported in June that following the conclusion of a successful appeal over plans at Harthill, the oil and gas exploration and production business re-submittted plans for a Greenbelt site at Woodsetts.

The application would provide temporary permission for a maximum of five years and the operation would involve months of 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.

The site, which is on agricultural land at Dewidales Wood, close to Woodsetts, Rackford Farm, Anston Stones Wood (a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)) and Lindrick golf course, 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).

In March, members of the planning board voted unanimously to refuse the plans on ecological grounds and also added in another reason for refusal based on highway safety.

Now the same board members are being recommended to approve the plans by council planners.

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INEOS has provided additional ecological surveys and data following earlier criticism and has pointed to the decision of the planning inspector in the Harthill case.

The applicants stated: "This application has been re-submitted to offer an opportunity to rectify that decision [the refusal] and thus to avoid the potential for a second appeal, and the associated costs claims that may be made in light of the lack of evidence behind the reason for refusal."

Updated transport analysis and mitigation measures have also been submitted, following initial concerns raised by Highways England. The Council's Transportation Unit concludes that "safe and suitable access to the site can be achieved and the cumulative impact of the development in transport terms is unlikely to be severe."

A number of conditions are proposed regarding the route to the site including signage, escort vehicles (when required), convoy systems and restricting any abnormal loads to traveling between 10am and 4pm.

On the other previous reason for refusal, a report to the planning board states: "Overall the [Council's] Ecologist considers that the supporting information on this aspect of the application, whilst lacking in some detail, is now sufficient to overcome the earlier reason for refusal, and subject to final lighting details being submitted as part of a condition, this aspect can now be considered acceptable."

The report adds that fracking forms no part of the application and that the proposals have been assessed on their own merits. Weight has also been given to proposed changes in national policy.

Like previous applications, a number of objections have been submitted. Other issues assessed include landscape, safety, air quality, noise and hydrology.

INEOS website

Images: Marriott Drilling / INEOS / Turley

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