Decision imminent on Woodsetts fracking for plastics

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council planning board will be meeting on Thursday 8 March 2018, at 10:30am at the Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham S60 2TH to decide whether to approve INEOS' initial plans towards fracking in Woodsetts, South Yorkshire. These plans consist of an industrial site to be in place for up to 5 years, with a 60m high drilling rig, 24x7 noise and light pollution, and a 600% increase in HGV traffic on rural roads.

Woodsetts Against Fracking (WAF) have been campaigning against this since plans were announced last August, under a mandate from the village with 90% of residents voting against it. WAF will be presenting their case to the planning board, highlighting key points from their 76 page objection statement, and will draw on concerns of pollution, traffic, ecology and the potential that this will poison the community. INEOS' plans would involve drilling through the local drinking water supplies as well as inactive coal mineworkings, which has never been done before.

Woodsetts site report to the council’s planning board from planners has recommended refusal of INEOS' application. This is on ecology grounds on the basis that INEOS failed to carry out sufficient surveys of badgers, bats and breeding birds.

WAF maintain the position that whilst the current planning application is for a 5 year duration exploratory well, it is only being done with the intent of fracking in this location and has to be viewed as the first step in a much wider plan to produce plastics and not to provide energy.

A WAF spokesman said "this isn't about providing energy for our homes as Theresa May keeps saying. Her own government report says we do not need fracking to secure UK energy supplies, and INEOS themselves admit that this is about making plastics in a way that's more profitable for them. If this goes ahead it will be a travesty, industrialising this quiet, rural community for the profits of a greedy petrochemical giant".

Ineos on their own website state that as the North Sea’s supply of ethane has dwindled, they are now importing ethane from American shale gas as the only way to bring in sufficient raw materials to maintain a competitive business in chemicals, plastics and other synthetics. They state that they intend to move into shale gas extraction to secure a supply of competitive feedstock for their UK petrochemicals businesses. This planning application is therefore not about producing a gas product for domestic energy use, but producing more plastic.

If planning board members follow their officers’ recommendation to refuse this application, it will be the third INEOS shale gas application in six weeks to be opposed by councillors. Concerns are being raised at a government level over the financial longevity of fracking firms and their ability to fund environmental disasters from either safety management failures or unexpected consequences of drilling though existing water tables and mine workings.

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