Friday, March 9, 2018

News: Rotherham's planning board votes to refuse INEOS plans


Members of the planning board at Rotherham Council have voted unanimously to refuse proposals for a test drilling well at Woodsetts.

As reported by Rothbiz last week, the application was being recommended for refusal by planners after the council ecologist highlighted that the ecological information submitted by INEOS and its planning consultants, Turley, was insufficient.

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.

Nigel Hancock, assistant planning manager at Rotherham Council, talked the board through Greenbelt use and impacts on traffic, water, noise, landscape and heritage.


Tom Pickering, operations director at INEOS Shale, discussed the strategic importance of shale gas to the UK. He told the board that he was surprised that the application was being recommended for refusal, adding that he was sure that concerns could be overcome by planning conditions.

The Council's ecologist considers that the application has a significant lack of supporting data due to lack of, or incomplete surveys and as such the Council cannot adequately assess the submitted details.

A number of action groups and residents expressed opposition to the proposals and following discussion, cllrs. on the planning board voted to add in a second reason for refusal based on traffic and transport impacts.

Unlike similar INEOS plans at Harthill, the senior highway development control officer at Rotherham Council, states that the Woodsetts plans can be supported from a highways point of view.

Taking a vote on the proposals, the board memebers voted unanimously to refuse the plans on ecological and transport grounds.

INEOS said that it was disappointed with the decision. A spokesperson said: "The application allows for the drilling of a single vertical core bore well to gain scientific knowledge of what is below the surface, which has been agreed by many Councils many times in the past to support the coal industry. This is no different. It is important to note that a completely separate application must be made for the extraction of gas."

On INEOS' proposals for a shale gas test drilling well in Harthill, the public inquiry is set to begin on April 24 at Rotherham Town Hall and could last two weeks.

INEOS website

Images: INEOS / Turley


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