FRACKING FEARS: Councillors told to approve shale gas drilling plan near Worksop

Dart Energy equipment placed at Tinker Lane, near Blythe.
Dart Energy equipment placed at Tinker Lane, near Blythe.

Council officers have recommended that a controversial plan for shale gas drilling near Worksop is given the green light.

Nottinghamshire county councillors will now have the final say on the county’s second planning application for exploratory drilling for shale gas on land off the A634 between Barnby Moor and Blyth at a meeting on Tuesday, March 21.

The application is for exploratory drilling, to check the suitability of the rock for shale gas extraction. It is not seeking permission to carry out any hydraulic fracturing, known as ‘fracking’. The exploratory drilling would take place for four months.

The site is around 1.5km north-west of Barnby Moor and 3km south-east of Blyth and is currently open farm land.

Planning officers have recommended 52 planning conditions to control the development and a separate legal agreement to control:

- The lorry route from the site to the A1;

- A driver code of conduct;

- A financial bond from Dart Energy which would be used to restore the site once works have been completed in the event that Dart Energy are unable to fulfil restoration requirements;

- To continue the existing community liaison group for the lifespan of the development.

In recognition of feedback and comments from local residents and statutory organisations, Dart Energy has outlined in its proposals plans to:

- Limit HGV access to and from the site during school drop off (8am-9am) and pick up (3pm-4pm) times at the primary school in Blyth

- Drill boreholes to monitor groundwater in the area before, during and after the works.

Shale gas development is very tightly 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.

In total the county council has received almost 800 individual representations objecting to the application about the application and one petition containing 2,869 signatures.

Sally Gill, planning manager for Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “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. We have reviewed the application very carefully in line with national and local planning policies.

“The Government’s national planning policies are very clear that shale gas development should be supported as it provides an opportunity to create new sources of home grown energy for the UK. However, the County Council’s Planning and Licensing Committee needs to be satisfied that individual shale gas applications are an acceptable use of land in any particular location.

“We have consulted local people and statutory organisations, extending our normal consultation period from 31 days to 56 days in light of the interest in the proposal.

“We have sought expert information from the official regulators of shale gas development including the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency to arrive at the report’s recommendation. They have raised no objections to the development.

“The final stage of the application is for County Councillors to debate the proposals in full at the Planning and Licensing Committee meeting on Tuesday 21 March at County Hall.”