Green light for test drilling at potential fracking site near Doncaster

Protesters make their point over fracking  test drilling in Misson
Protesters make their point over fracking test drilling in Misson
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An energy firm has been given the go ahead for test drilling in a village near Doncaster ahead of possible fracking.

The controversial application, submitted by Island Gas (IGas) in October last year, to explore for shale gas well at Springs Lane, Misson Springs, was approved by seven to four at County Hall, Nottingham.

Protesters make their point over fracking  test drilling in Misson

Protesters make their point over fracking test drilling in Misson

The scheme was heard by Nottinghamshire Council because Misson lies just over the border between Doncaster and Nottinghamshire.

Jayne Watson, of Misson Parish Council, said: “I am disappointed.

“I think it’s a bad day for Mission. It’s a good day for IGas. We may take further action. Even though the decision didn’t go our way I think the councillors listened to our concerns.

“They attached extra conditions. They have been more stringent on this than they have been on others. There is a lot IGas have to do to make this happen.”

Nottinghamshire County Council officers recommended the bid be approved but a meeting on October 5 was adjourned for legal advice after Friends of the Earth claimed drilling would breach a covenant set up in the 1960s to protect a nearby site of special scientific interest.

But planning officer Rachel Clack said the covenant was not “a material planning consideration” and added the planning system was there to regulate the use of land in the public interest,

She said: “A planning permission is a public law right. It doesn’t override any private law right. It’s not a matter that members are required to take into account when determining this planning application.”

Coun Jim Creamer backed the move and said: “It’s extremely important that monitoring is done on this site. I am happy they have expanded on air and noise monitoring. Most of the objections have come on grounds that we don’t control. This should never have come here. We should be going for green alternatives.

“I think everyone should write to their MPs. But this is a planning issue and I can’t see any particular reason to object.”

Coun Steve Calvert voted against the bid.

He commended the “open and transparent way” in which the application had been handled, which included workshops to increase members’ understanding of the issues around shale gas.

He said: “On October 5 I entered with an open mind. I have strong views on Government energy policy and the manner in which it has promoted fossil fuels at the expense of renewables. We have seen major cuts to research in carbon capture. There is much concern that the UK government will retreat from climate change targets.

“This could open the door for full scale applications for fracking.”

Jonathan Smith, planning officer at Bassetlaw District Council, said there was a community liaison group in place.

He said an assurance about monitoring water levels could be added.

Concerns about breaches of lorry routes were “few and far between” and operators risked losing their licences if they didn’t abide by the rules, he said.

Mr Smith said 24 letters of objection had been received since the last meeting which repeated fears about noise pollution, water contamination, the impact on the SSSI, lorry routes and air pollution, the effect on local houses prices and concerns that drilling would detonate unexploded ordnance on the former Cold War missile launch site.

Outside the meeting, around 30 campaigners gathered to protest against the drilling.

Protester Brian Davey said: “If IGas go bust, who will pay to clear up the site?”