New INEOS plans for Woodsetts and Harthill drilling approved

Two major breaking news events this week; INEOS have published notice that they are submitting new plans for Woodsetts, and today the Planning Inspectorate have approved the appeal for drilling in Harthill. Keep an eye out for our next newsletter which should be dropping through your letterbox soon.

New Planning Application for Woodsetts

Ineos has announced it plans to submit a new application for shale gas exploration in Woodsetts. In March 2018, Rotherham councillors voted unanimously against the company’s previous application in the village. An official notice has been posted at the site off Dinnington Road. It said the application was expected to be submitted on 13 June 2018.

The plans included:

  • Construction of a well site

  • Creation of a new access track

  • Mobilisation of drilling, ancillary equipment and contractor welfare facilities

  • Drilling and pressure transient testing a vertical hydrocarbon exploratory core well

  • Mobilisation of workover rig and listening well operations

  • Retention of site and wellhead assembly gear for five years

These are the same key elements as in the previous application. The notice also says any representations must be made to Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council by 11 July 2018. Rest assured WAF will consider the application and fight against it, and will reach out to you all for any support we need.

A spokesperson for Ineos said in a statement: “INEOS Shale has re-submitted the application for a test drilling site at Woodsetts to Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. The original application was opposed by the Council on the grounds of impact on ecology and traffic concerns. The fresh application therefore gives the Council the opportunity to consider the application again, applying its experience at the Harthill Inquiry to Woodsetts and reflecting feedback made by stakeholders.”

Harthill drilling approved to move ahead

INEOS has been granted planning approval for a drilling rig to test for shale gas in Harthill following a public inquiry. They appealed to the Planning Inspectorate over the non-determination of the application at the Greenbelt site. Rotherham Council has been satisfied by the proposed mitigation from the applicants having previously offered reasons for refusal on transport and ecology grounds, and issued the decision report concluding that INEOS' appeal should be allowed and planning permission be granted.

The application provides temporary permission for a maximum of five years and the operation will involve various site investigation surveys and site preparation before a period of drilling, coring and testing. A well is set to be drilled to approximately 2,800 m using a drill rig of maximum 60 m rig height followed by three months of testing. The Council's objections focused on the use of "country lanes which are considered to be unsuitable to cater for the significant increase in commercial vehicular traffic" and it also considered that the supporting ecological information was deficient. The Council initially objected to the late submission of an updated transport mitigation plan from INEOS but the authority's transport planner stated that it provided mitigation to his earlier concerns and reasons for refusal. The Council's planning board did not agree.

The site can only be approached by country lanes and the council was concerned increased traffic could only be managed by the use of a series of passing places. But in his ruling, planning inspector Stephen Roscoe said: "I do not consider that the proposal would be likely to have an unacceptable adverse effect on the use of these lanes by other vehicles." He said the plans did "not represent inappropriate development and would not be harmful to the green belt". He made it clear the council would be responsible for developing a traffic management plan for the site. The report also confirmed that the Council withdrew its objection to the proposal on ecological grounds during the inquiry. However, local and national campaign groups were also able to present their objections at the inquiry.

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