County Councillors to consider planning application for Tinker Lane exploratory shale gas well site
Nottinghamshire County councillors will consider the county’s second planning application for exploratory drilling for shale gas on land off the A634 between Barnby Moor and Blyth at the Planning and Licensing Committee meeting on Tuesday 21 March.
The application, submitted by Dart Energy in May last year, is recommended for approval.
The application is for exploratory drilling, to check the suitability of the rock for shale gas extraction. It is not seeking permission to carry out any hydraulic fracturing, known as 'fracking'. The exploratory drilling would take place for four months.
The site is around 1.5km north-west of Barnby Moor and 3km south-east of Blyth and is currently open farm land.
Planning Officers have recommended 52 planning conditions to control the development and a separate legal agreement to control:
- The lorry route from the site to the A1
- A driver code of conduct
- A financial bond from Dart Energy which would be used to restore the site once works have been completed in the event that Dart Energy are unable to fulfil restoration requirements
- To continue the existing community liaison group for the lifespan of the development.
In recognition of feedback and comments from local residents and statutory organisations, Dart Energy has outlined in its proposals plans to:
- Limit HGV access to and from the site during school drop off (8am-9am) and pick up (3pm-4pm) times at the primary school in Blyth
- Drill boreholes to monitor groundwater in the area before, during and after the works.
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.
As part of this process, feedback from a number of organisations about specific issues raised by local residents and consultees is included in the planning application committee report including:
- The Coal Authority, which has confirmed that there are no historic records of deep mine or opencast coal mining in the area
- The Environment Agency, which has confirmed that they have issued an Environmental Permit as they are satisfied that the development will not affect air quality in the area, as the drilling works are limited to four months. The Agency are also satisfied that appropriate measures have been taken to control foul water from the site
- Natural England, which has confirmed that no Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSI) will be affected by the development
- The Health and Safety Executive, which has confirmed that they are satisfied with the proposed development.
As part of the proposals, Dart Energy is seeking permission to drill one exploratory well 3,300 metres deep to reach the Bowland Shale and Millstone Grit rock formations to take samples of the rocks for analysis.
Extensive consultation has been undertaken by the County Council, with more than 40 organisations providing feedback over an extended eight week consultation period.
In total the County Council has received almost 800 individual representations objecting to the application about the application and one petition containing 2,869 signatures.
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). 350 onshore oil and gas wells have been drilled in the UK since 2000.
Seventeen sites at Beckingham, Bothamsall and Eakring are producing high quality oil for use in the plastics and chemical industries.
Sally Gill, Planning Manager for Nottinghamshire County Council said: “As the local Minerals Planning Authority, Nottinghamshire County Council is responsible for considering if the proposals are an appropriate use of the land and meet the requirements of local and national planning policies. We have reviewed the application very carefully in line with national and local planning policies.
"The Government’s national planning policies are very clear that shale gas development should be supported as it provides an opportunity to create new sources of home grown energy for the UK. However, the County Council's Planning and Licensing Committee needs to be satisfied that individual shale gas applications are an acceptable use of land in any particular location.
"We have consulted local people and statutory organisations, extending our normal consultation period from 31 days to 56 days in light of the interest in the proposal.
"We have sought expert information from the official regulators of shale gas development including the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency to arrive at the report’s recommendation. They have raised no objections to the development.
"The final stage of the application is for County Councillors to debate the proposals in full at the Planning and Licensing Committee meeting on Tuesday 21 March at County Hall."
During the Planning and Licensing meeting, five organisations will make presentations to the Committee to share their views with County Councillors about the planning application. They are:
- Blyth Parish Council
- Torworth Parish Council
- Tinker Lane Community Group
- Dart Energy
- United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas.
In addition, separate speakers will also be permitted to speak for or against the proposal at the meeting, for up to three minutes per person.
To date, Nottinghamshire County Council has received no planning applications for hydraulic fracturing in the county.
Nottinghamshire County Council approved a planning application submitted by Island Gas Limited in November last year to drill exploratory shale gas wells on land off Springs Road in Misson, Bassetlaw. The planning permission included 37 conditions to control the development.
For further information about shale gas development, including the role of other regulatory bodies and the issues the County Council can take into account when determining the application, go to www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/shalegas
To keep up-to-date with the latest information about planning and shale gas development in Nottinghamshire, you can sign up to the County Council’s email subscription service at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/emailme (select the Planning newsletter).