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Councillors approve planning application for county’s first exploratory shale gas wells

Nottinghamshire County Council’s Planning and Licensing Committee has approved plans to drill Nottinghamshire’s first exploratory shale gas wells, on land off Springs Road, Misson in Bassetlaw.

No hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – can be undertaken as part of the permission.

The approval is subject to the completion of a Section 106 legal agreement, which requires a designated route for all heavy goods vehicles servicing the site, that drivers adhere to a code of conduct and that the applicant is responsible for any highway damage caused by vehicles.

The application, made by Island Gas Limited, was approved by the Planning and Licensing Committee following discussions at the meeting by seven votes to four.

Councillors had previously heard presentations from County Council planners, Misson Parish Council, Mison Community Action Group, Frack Free Nottinghamshire, Island Gas Ltd, UK Onshore Oil and Gas (the industry body) and local residents when it first met on 5 October.

The planning permission comes with 37 conditions and Members added three further controls at today's meeting, which require Island Gas Ltd to put up a restoration bond, for a community liaison group to continue and for additional air quality, noise and water level testing to be undertaken throughout the period of development.

Following the meeting, Councillor John Wilkinson, Chairman of the Planning and Licensing Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “Members of the Planning and Licensing Committee gave thorough and careful consideration to this application.

“We are grateful to all the members of public and groups who responded to the consultation and gave evidence to the committee.

“Ultimately, the committee concluded that the applicant was able to effectively demonstrate how they could address the planning issues within the County Council’s jurisdiction, such as traffic, noise and access, opening hours, the impact on residential areas and wildlife, flooding, heritage and archaeology.

“Many of the planning conditions placed on the permission and the requirement for legally binding restrictions on lorry movements in and out of the site have been introduced as a direct result of consultation responses from organisations and members of the public.

“Shale gas development is very tightly regulated in the UK and requires planning permission from the County Council, together with approvals, checks and permits from the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive and the Oil and Gas Authority.”

The development site – a former Cold War missile launch site - is around two miles north-east of Misson, close to the Nottinghamshire, Doncaster and North Lincolnshire local government boundary.

The application is for the development of a temporary well site, which would involve the drilling of two exploratory shale gas wells to explore the rock geology below the ground to find out if it is likely to contain shale gas.

Since first receiving the application in October 2015, extensive consultation has been undertaken by the County Council, with more than 40 organisations providing feedback and 2,600 individual representations.

There was an initial eight week consultation period, with further public consultation in April/May and July/August following the submission of additional information by Island Gas Limited about the development.

Natural resources like coal, oil and gas have been exploited for many years in Nottinghamshire.  Figures show that since 1939, 27% of the UK’s total number of onshore oil and gas wells have been drilled in Nottinghamshire (UKOOG).

Seventeen sites at Beckingham, Bothamsall and Eakring are producing high quality oil for use in the plastics and chemical industries.

Nottinghamshire County Council has received a planning application for a similar proposal involving shale gas exploratory drilling from Dart Energy at a site off the A634 between Barnby Moor and Blyth. Public consultation on this application closed in the summer. A provisional date of 20 December has been allocated for the application to be considered by the Planning and Licensing Committee.

To date, Nottinghamshire County Council has received no planning applications for hydraulic fracturing in the county.