Wednesday, June 8, 2022

News: Secretary of State throws out Rotherham fracking plans


A long-awaited Government decision has been made on proposals for a test drilling well on a Greenbelt site in Rotherham.

INEOS' Woodsetts plans were recommended for approval, having previously been refused on ecological grounds and on highway safety. The planning board went against officer's recommendations and refused the plans based on highway grounds and noise and general disturbance. Having been successful at the inquiry over its nearby Harthill application, INEOS appealed against the Woodsetts decision.

A public local inquiry took place in 2019 where the Inspector recommended that the appeal be allowed and planning permission be granted subject to conditions.

However, the plans were not given the go ahead as the appeal was recovered for the Secretary of State's determination.

After a long wait, the decision was published this week. It concluded: "The Secretary of State [Michael Gove] disagrees with the Inspector’s recommendation. He has decided to dismiss the appeal and refuse planning permission."

The test well was considered acceptable in the Greenbelt but the main issue for refusal appears to centre on an acoustic barrier that was proposed to address noise levels to protect the amenity of affected residents.

A 3 metre high acoustic barrier would make the noise acceccptable but "the erection of the fence would create a sense of enclosure in the gardens of Berne Square."

The planning inspector believed that it would be perverse to refuse planning permission for the whole proposal, only because the temporary fence was considered to be inappropriate development. The Secretary of State disagreed. Likewise he disagreed with the Inspector’s assessment that the harmful impacts of the development would be outweighed by the policy support.

The government ended support for fracking in November 2019 on the basis of a report by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), which found that it is not currently possible to accurately predict the probability or magnitude of earthquakes linked to fracking operations.

Alexander Stafford, MP for Rother Valley, said after the decision was published: "This is fantastic news for Woodsetts and for Rother Valley, and I thank all the residents and especially Woodsetts Against Fracking, Anston & Woodsetts Councillors and all who worked together to protect our beautiful village and countryside. I know there will be many happy residents in Woodsetts tonight who will share my feelings of joy."

INEOS website

Images: INEOS / Turley


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