Monday, September 10, 2018

News: Rotherham planning board votes against INEOS test well proposals

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Another planning appeal from INEOS looks likely after the planning board at Rotherham Council again went against the recommendations of its officers to refuse an application for a test drilling well.

Rothbiz reported first that INEOS' Woodsetts plans were being recommended for approval, having previously been refused on ecological grounds and on highway safety.

The first set of plans were unanimously voted against with the resubmitted application much closer at seven votes to five.

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).

Updated transport analysis and mitigation measures were submitted, allaying the concerns of the transport planners and Highways England. More ecological survey information had also been submitted. The officers also took into account the recent public inquiries, for Harthill in Rotherham and Marsh Lane near Eckington, where INEOS had secured permission, and recent updates from the Government on the national importance of shale gas.

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A number of issues were raised as the planing board heard from INEOS and its planning consultants before objectors to the scheme including the local parish council and Woodsetts Against Fracking.

Officers addressed the issues and concerns and discussed the conditions attached to granting the application such as restricting HGV movements and lighting. Monitoring of the proposed test well was also discussed.

In submitting the plans, INEOS urged members to vote for approval in order 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."

Cllr. Jenny Whysall took exception to the firm's approach, saying it had shown "breathtaking arrogance." She added that it was patronising and "vaguely threatening."

Planning board members voting against the plans set out reasons for refusal. Cllr. Stuart Sansome, planning board member, explained: "We believe that the highway issues which were raised previously, those concerns have still not been clearly met to our satisfaction and that on the environmental issues raised, we've still not received enough information of clarity to give us a feeling to accept the proposal."

Planning officers believe that the highway issues could be defended at a public inquiry if a subsequent planning appeal is made. A full decision for refusal is set to be published this week.

INEOS website

Images: INEOS / Turley

2 comments:

Martyn Benson,  September 11, 2018 at 10:46 AM  

If INEOS go to appeal in the near future - as seems highly likely - they will (because of previous Govt. decisions) almost certainly win. The money needing to be spent on presenting the Council's position at appeal would be better spent on social issues or business support. Sorry - that's the hard reality in a far from ideal world. Good generals don't start battles they can't win.

Anonymous,  September 11, 2018 at 3:46 PM  

Weldone RMBC woodsetts have their own barrister so lets stand behind them as they take on the biggest threat to rotherham for years

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