Chemical firm Ineos has been told it does not need to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed fracking site in Marsh Lane.
The location on privately-owned land off Bramley Moor Lane in the north east Derbyshire village will now be subject to a full application for a vertical coring well to evaluate the geology.
Derbyshire County Council said the decision was made after ‘careful consideration’.
Mike Ashworth, Derbyshire County Council’s strategic director for Economy, Transport and Communities, said: “After careful consideration, our view is that INEOS does not need to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment for this proposal which involves underground drilling and investigation but not the process of fracking. An assessment may be needed if INEOS decides to apply for any other planning permission.”
The plans have been strongly opposed by hundreds of residents who have held public meetings, launched a committee and staged a protest march on Saturday.
If given the full go-ahead, it would mean building a drilling rig up to 60 metres tall to drill around 2,400 metres down into the ground to find out more about the shale gas reserve.
Ineos say the decision by Derbyshire County Council is consistent with the rules and regulations for temporary developments of this nature.
The firm added that it will submit a detailed planning application for the coring well and will undertake further community consultation ahead of its submission.
The planning application will include an Environmental Report addressing the aspects of water environment, ecology, noise, landscape and visual effects, and cultural heritage.
Tom Pickering, operations director at Shale, said: “We are very pleased that the latest step in the process has now been completed. While we are not required to complete a formal EIA, all relative environmental concerns will be addressed as part of the application and we are looking forward to continuing to work with the council and community to discuss these as the project moves forward.”
Derbyshire County Council, which is the planning authority responsible for considering oil and gas developments, was approached by INEOS for a formal opinion on whether a planning application for this vertical well on this site would require a statutory EIA – a formal process to assess in detail the impacts of potential development on the environment when the effects are likely to be significant.
Mr Ashworth added: “The county council has a legal obligation to decide on planning applications about fracking in Derbyshire. Our planning committee considers each planning application on its individual merits and is impartial. As with any other planning application, each planning decision it makes is based on objective analysis of evidence, taking into account local and national planning policies and the relevant comments of official consultees – such as parish councils – and the public.
“We have already received many emails and letters from residents about the proposed drilling well and all these views will be taken into consideration by our planning committee if Ineos submits a planning application.
“We’re committed to making information available to the public on our website every step of the way throughout the planning process. If Ineos applies for planning permission we will publish details on our website at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/fracking with details about how people can make their views known and how they can get involved in the planning process, including speaking at the planning committee.”