Friday, January 18, 2019

News: INEOS appeal Rotherham refusal

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Oil and gas exploration and production business, INEOS has submitted a planning appeal to overturn Rotherham Council's decision to refuse permission for a second test drilling well in the borough.

In September 2018, the planning board at Rotherham Council unanimously voted to refuse 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.

Now planning consultants, Turley, have submitted paperwork to the Secretary of State to appeal the decision.

It now looks likely that another public inquiry will take place to hear the arguments for and against.

In June 2018, INEOS was granted planning approval for a drilling rig to test for shale gas in nearby Harthill following a public inquiry. INEOS appealed to the Planning Inspectorate over the non-determination of the application at another Greenbelt site.

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In submitting the second set of plans for Woodestts, INEOS urged the council 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."

The updated plans were actually recommended for approval, having previously been refused on ecological grounds and on highway safety. INEOS provided additional ecological surveys and data following earlier criticism and pointed to the decision of the planning inspector in the Harthill case.

When plans were determined, planning officers said that the highway reasons for refusal could be defended at a public inquiry if a subsequent planning appeal is made.

Campaigners in the borough are still battling INEOS. A community group has been granted a hearing date for a judicial review into the planning inquiry which favoured INEOS and its proposed development at Harthill. It centres on when updated plans from INEOS were made public and the group not knowing the full case they had to meet until the inquiry.

INEOS wants to carry out further tests on the suitability of the area for hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

INEOS website

Images: INEOS / Turley

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