Campaigners gear up to fight fracking tests bid

A racking rig
A racking rig
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Campaigners opposed to fracking in a village near Doncaster are getting ready to fight plans to test for shale gas there.

A planning application to drill vertical and horizontal shale gas wells at Misson Springs has been received by Bassetlaw Council and the public is now being urged to give its views.

It is the first planning application for shale gas exploration in Nottinghamshire.

David Larder, chairman of Bassetlaw against Fracking has raised concerns over fears of pollution such as the threat to groundwater and drinking water,

He said: “Not only has Island Gas chosen an old Cold War rocket site for drilling for shale gas, but they will be having many explosive charges going out horizontally under our beautiful Notts countryside.

“We object to the 24-hour a day drilling for several months. The noise of this operation and the vibration will have a devastating effect upon the wildlife and the natural habitat in the

nearby Site of Special Scientific Interest upon which the government spent thousands of pounds. We object on behalf of the cyclists and the rare birdwatchers. We object because one well will not be enough for greedy island gas. If they are successful in their exploration they will continue and move on across the countryside. It has been proven in America that people have suffered ill health who live near fracking sites and it has been

shown in Lancashire, where the county council turned down an application that property values are seriously affected.

“We call upon all people who love this part of North Notts to say “no” to a re-industrialisation of an area which has a high level of earth tremors and old mine workings.

“I call upon all those who realise that shale gas is not the answer because methane is a major pollutant and causes global warming.

“It is significant that this company has chosen at the same time to put in another application for scoping to start the process in yet another village. They want to divide our attention but we will fight with focus and determination. “I call upon the whole community to come together and to send a letter of objection or go online in the next 21 days to Notts County Council planning department.

“We are distributing in all of the villages a helpful leaflet for those who wish to object. Please pick one up from shops or pubs.”

Frack Free Isle (FFI), which is made up of campaigners around the Isle of Axholme, will be holding drop-in sessions in Westwoodside, Low Burnham, Haxey and Epworth on November 10, 11, 12 and 13 to offer advice to Isle residents who wish to send objections to Nottinghamshire County Council. Posters giving details of venues and times will be posted soon.

A spokesperson for FFI said: “It is important that Isle residents have their say because the effects of this development will spread well beyond the site itself. A lot of extra heavy traffic will be generated

and one of the two planned vehicle routes connecting the site with the M180 passes through Westwoodside, Haxey, Epworth and Belton.

“In Lancashire the housing market has been impacted by the activities of fracking company Cuadrilla, with buyers increasingly reluctant to move to the area and sellers having to reduce prices. If this

application is successful, more will follow, bringing industrialisation to our quiet rural landscape,” he added.

“We are distributing in all of the villages a helpful leaflet for those who wish to object.

“Please pick one up from shops or pubs.”

The planning application for shale gas exploration has been submitted to Nottinghamshire County Council.

Island Gas Limited (IGas) is seeking planning permission to undertake exploration for shale gas on land off Springs Road, to the north east of Misson in Bassetlaw, which is close to the Nottinghamshire, Doncaster and North Lincolnshire local government boundary.

The application is for the development of a shale gas well site which would involve the drilling of two exploratory shale gas wells (one vertically and one horizontally) together with ancillary works.

Permission is sought for a temporary period of up to three years, with drilling taking place for approximately 14 weeks for the vertical well and 19 weeks for the horizontal well. During drilling, operations would take place 24 hours a day. At other times, works would take place between 7am and 7pm, Monday to Friday and 7am and 1pm on Saturdays, with no working on Sundays or Bank holidays.

The vertical well would be drilled to a depth of approximately 3,500 metres and, subject to the results of the vertical well, a second well may be drilled, initially vertically before being directed horizontally in a southerly direction within one of the potentially productive horizons. At its peak there would be an average of 18 HGV and 10 light vehicles visiting the site per day.

The application does not include any proposals for hydraulic fracturing, known as ‘fracking’.

The County Council will now begin detailed consultation work on the application, seeking the views of over 40 organisations, including statutory consultees, neighbouring local authorities and landowners, County Council departments, national Government departments and agencies and wildlife organisations.

Letters will be sent to nearby residents and notices posted in the local area highlighting how they can get involved and register their comments about the proposals.

Sally Gill, Planning Manager for Nottinghamshire County Council says: “IGas is seeking permission to explore for shale gas on this site, which would involve test drilling at Springs Road, to the north-east of Misson. The application does not include any proposal to carry out fracking.

“If permission is granted, the test drilling would allow IGas to evaluate the potential resource of shale gas trapped beneath the surface. Depending on the results of the test drilling, IGas may, or may not, seek permission to extract the shale gas using fracking, but that would require a separate planning application which would be subject to further consultation.”

The deadline for responses to the consultation is 9 December 2015.

IGas Energy plc says the application has met all of NCC’s requirements in the required format and it will now undergo a period of public consultation before planning officers make a recommendation to the planning committee. All the associated documents can be viewed on the NCC website (http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/planningsearch/plandisp.aspx?AppNo=ES/3379) and also at www.springsroad.co.uk.

IGas embarked on a community engagement process that began in early 2014, including the formation of a Community Liaison Group, providing community representatives with a forum to meet with members of the IGas project team, discuss the proposals and make recommendations. There have also been two public information events to give residents the opportunity to find out more about activity at the proposed site. Further events will be held during the consultation process.

IGas has already incorporated the feedback they have received into the application in areas such as:

*Cultural Heritage: In light of concerns expressed it was decided to construct the wellsite without taking up the existing hard standing and launch pads associated with the site’s former use. Sand will be placed to protect the existing hardstanding area under the wellsite and plant and equipment will be placed having due regard to the features under the wellsite.

*Lighting: A lighting assessment is included as part of the Environmental Statement. All lighting will be inward facing and shrouded.

*Health: Assessments have been undertaken on noise, air quality, hydrology and ground contamination taking into consideration how these will affect local residents and the community. A section is included in the application documents on health, pulling together information on the separate assessments.

*Landscape Character and Visual Impact: A Landscape Assessment is also included in the Environmental Statement to address concerns about visibility of the plant and in particular the rig as the local topography is flat. The impact of the development has been assessed from 19 different viewpoints in the local area.

Stephen Bowler, Chief execdutive of IGas, said: “The drilling of the wells at Springs Road would be an important step in helping us to understand the shale gas potential in North Nottinghamshire and more widely in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. Natural gas, including gas produced from shale, is important not only for electricity generation, but also for heating over 80% of UK homes and providing feedstock for key manufacturing processes. It is vital that the UK identifies new sources of gas if it is to safeguard the UK’s security of supply, with locally sourced gas also having a positive impact on the environment, jobs and the economy.

“IGas operates assets that have been producing oil and gas in the local area for over three decades. In the East Midlands alone, we have 16 producing fields which account for around 50% of our current production. Our Springs Road operations will be conducted with exactly the same regulatory rigour and robust safety measures.

“As part of our commitment as a responsible operator, we have listened to the local community and have routed traffic north of the site away from the village of Misson. I would encourage local residents to come and talk to us at our events which we will be holding over the coming weeks so they can be reassured that this project will be carried out safely and environmentally sensitively.”

For further information contact the IGas Public Information line on 0203 675 6058.