Fracking company gets go-ahead for test drilling near Sheffield

Anti-fracking campaigners opposed the application to carry out test drilling
Anti-fracking campaigners opposed the application to carry out test drilling
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Controversial plans for test drilling near Sheffield, which could lead to fracking, have been approved.

The chemicals giant Ineos was granted permission on appeal to drill an exploratory core well on land off Bramley Moor Lane, Marsh Lane, near Eckington.

This will enable it to extract rock samples for testing to see if gas can be extracted, potentially paving the way for fracking to be carried out in future.

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Ineos had appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, arguing that Derbyshire County Council was taking too long to make a decision, which the authority denied.

Following an eight-day inquiry in June, at which Ineos and the campaign group Eckington Against Fracking gave evidence, inspector Elizabeth Hill heard published her decision today.

In her conclusion, she wrote: "I have taken into account all of the representations made. I have found that there would be slight harm in terms of the living conditions of neighbouring occupiers, in terms of night-time noise, to which I give limited weight.

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"However, this would not outweigh the benefits of the exploration in terms of its potential to improve resources for energy supplies to which I give substantial weight.

"On all other matters I consider that the impact is neutral overall. The conditions following this decision would ensure the development would be carried out in an acceptable manner."

Her ruling only grants permission for test drilling, and a further planning application would be required should Ineos wish to begin fracking at the site in future.

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Fracking is where a mixture of water and chemicals is blasted deep into the ground to release shale gas.

Critics have warned of the environmental damage it could cause, with Friends of the Earth accusing Ineos of attempting to 'industrialise the English countryside'.

But Ineos claims shale gas is less polluting than oil or coal and could help meet the UK's energy demands.