Officials recommend green light for fracking test drilling near Doncaster

Officials are recommending that exploratory drilling is allowed to go ahead for fracking in a village near Doncaster.

Nottinghamshire County Councillors will meet next week to consider the county’s first planning application for exploratory drilling for shale gas, at Misson.

Protesters have held marches against the plans.

The application, submitted by Island Gas Limited in October last year, is recommended for approval by the Planning and Licensing Committee meeting on Wednesday 5 October. No hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – would be undertaken as part of the application.

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The development site – a former Cold War missile launch site - is off Springs Road, around two miles north east of Misson in Bassetlaw and close to the Nottinghamshire, Doncaster and North Lincolnshire local government boundary.

The application is for the development of a temporary well site, which would involve the drilling of two exploratory shale gas wells to explore the rock geology below the ground to find out if it is likely to contain shale gas.

Experts believe that the Bowland Hodder Shale, a rock strata lying beneath northern and central England, could contain significant supplies of shale gas.

If approved, the first well would be drilled vertically to around 3,500m with a further well drilled vertically and then horizontally in a southerly direction towards Misson.

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The council says it has taken extensive consultation, with more than 40 organisations providing feedback and 2,600 individual representations about the application.

There was an initial eight week consultation period, with further public consultation in April/May and July/August following the submission of additional information by Island Gas Limited about the development.

Shale gas development 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.

Sally Gill, Planning Manager for Nottinghamshire County Council says: “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.

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“We consult widely with a range of statutory and local organisations to find out how the application will affect the local area and the practical steps that can be taken to address material planning considerations including noise, dust, lighting, wildlife, heritage, flooding and transport issues.

“After very careful review, planning officers have recommended to the Planning and Licensing Committee that the development is appropriate for the industrial site.

“Island Gas has been able to demonstrate how they intend to make sure that the effects of the drilling can be effectively managed to make sure they do not become unacceptable to the local area and local community.

“A recommendation for approval with 37 planning conditions and a legal agreement relating to HGV routeing is included in the report which planning officers believer will make sure that the development will fully meet the requirements of national and local planning policies.

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“Shale gas development is very tightly regulated and in addition to securing planning permission from the County Council, Island Gas will also need to obtain relevant permits and licences from the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency and the Oil and Gas Authority before any development can take place.

“Members will debate the proposals in full at the Planning and Licensing Committee meeting on Wednesday 5 October 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 include:

Misson Parish Council

Misson Community Action Group

FrackFree Nottinghamshire

Island Gas Limited

United Kingdom Oil and Offshore Gas.

In addition, separate speakers from local organisations will also be permitted to speak for or against the proposal at the meeting, for up to three minutes per person.

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To date, Nottinghamshire County Council has received no planning applications for hydraulic fracturing in the county.

Nottinghamshire County Council has received a planning application for a similar proposal involving shale gas exploratory drilling from Dart Energy at a site off the A634 between Barnby Moor and Blyth. Public consultation on this application closed in the summer. The application will be considered by the Planning and Licensing Committee in the future.