Planning Permission for West Newton A well site expires in March 2016. If no further planning permission was applied for, the well would have to be plugged and abandoned, and the site restored. (This is what is currently happening at Crawberry Hill well site.)
West Newton A well site has been mothballed after the controversial mini-frack test went wrong in summer 2014, leading to an emergency well shutdown. See Incidents.
However, Rathlin Energy would like to retain the site, and the option to drill a second well. Like the existing well already drilled, the second well could go as deep as the Bowland Shale, about 3,250m. Shale gas can only be extracted by fracking.
Therefore Rathlin Energy have submitted a Planning Variation to extend their planning permission.
Have Your Say – Comment Now
Planning Meeting 26th Nov
Planning Variation Reference: 15/03056/STVAR
Objection Surgery Now Open
drop in for face to face advice over a brew
If you would like some support in person to make your objection, please drop in to an Objection Surgery, where people will be happy to provide all the help you need, over a brew and cake.
The Objection Surgery is open all day, at the side of the road near Wyton. It’s on the road from Bilton to Sproately. There is a large banner, “Object here today”, so you can’t miss it.
- Check the guidance
- stick to material considerations
- do object – the number of objections matters
- Encourage others to object
- Businesses can object
- Be factual. Abusive or libellous comments will be binned
- individual comments, rather than copied, standard comments, have far more impact
- Lobby the planning committee
- contact your councillor
- Please note: There’s a time out on the planning website, so if your comment is long write it in a text editor first, then copy & paste it in to the website. Very long comments may be clipped, so you need to email them instead.
The proposed extension is a key move in the national drive to exploit oil and gas at a time when the rest of the world, notably China, Japan, Germany, Italy and Spain are making rapid moves towards renewables. It is hard to see how we can move towards a low carbon economy by investing in exploration for more oil and gas.
General Advice on Planning Comments
It is important to be aware of the guidance from ERYC which is available here:
Any objections must be based on material considerations. These are defined in the guidance and attention is drawn to the statement that “The applicant’s motives” are normally not a material consideration.
This means that responses must be based on what is known about Rathlin Energy’s actions since the planning permission was notified and specifically the issues arising from the current planning application. It is not a material consideration to oppose fracking in the UK or the East Riding but nevertheless there are serious concerns that the ERYC Planning Committee must address. Given the well problems at this site there may be material considerations about regulation, risk assessment, well design and environmental impact that need to be considered.
Material considerations you may wish to write about include:
- Impact on the neighbourhood
- Planning history of the site i.e. the contrast between what Rathlin Energy stated in their planning application and supporting documents, the planning conditions and their actual behaviour. Breaches of planning permission are also relevant.
- The overbearing nature of the proposal. The expert report on hydrogeology (ie the aquifer and water supply) submitted by Rathlin Energy in their initial application refers to water supply to Hull but overlooks significant risks. This is an overbearing proposal which prolongs the risk to our water supply.
- Loss of ecological habitats. Recent observations at West Newton and Crawberry Hill indicate that the initial independent ecology report commissioned by Rathlin Energy was wholly inadequate.
- The ERYC Development Plan. There are numerous references to this in the original report and the current application.
Do Object – the number of objections matters
The oil industry refers to “implied consent”. In other words, if you don’t object, it will be assumed you support it. Even a short objection is worth it.
At Balcombe in Sussex:
“The grounds of claim also consider the relevance of the scale of local opposition and alleges that the Council’s’ insistence that the number of representations in opposition was ‘not a material consideration’ as being ‘simply wrong in law’.” – Leigh Day (law firm)
No Environmental Impact Assessment has been Carried Out
East Riding Council determined that an Environmental Impact Assessment was not required. Only a much weaker, desktop survey, Ecological Risk Assessment has been done. You may wish to make the case that an Environmental Impact Assessment should be required.
At least 3 brown hares, and hundreds of rodents, have died in the ditches that surround Rathlin Energy’s well sites. Barn owls used to be heard around West Newton, but now they are not.
The ERYC Development Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
Rathlin Energy’s current application is largely a description of the national and local planning policy framework. The emphasis is on the economic benefits of indigenous oil and gas production for future wealth and security while preserving the environment.
You may wish to comment on current research which questions how oil, gas and shale gas (which is part of Rathlin Energy’s exploration) can contribute to sustainable development.
The proposals are only temporary if no commercial oil, gas or shale gas in proved.
If Rathlin Energy prove oil, gas or shale gas within the extra time requested to complete a second drilling (maximum 10 weeks in the original report) and an extended well test (up to 90 days) they will stop work, apply for planning permission to build a production site and exploit the site for up to 50 years.
If you have a business or employment which is affected by the planning application you can send in a separate objection from that point of view. In the case of West Newton remember there are about 8000 jobs in the East Riding based on agriculture and about 8000 relying on tourism compared to the 20 jobs proposed for each well site.
Lobby The Planning Committee
Planning applications are decided by the Planning Committee of 12 councillors.
Contact them all to make your views known. The list of members and their contact details is here. Or copy & paste this list of email addresses:
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Councillor.firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Your Councillor
Also contact your own councillor. Find out who your councillor is here.
You are entitled to meet your councillor to talk about objections. Phone them up (at a reasonable time) or ask to meet them.
Note that members of the Planning Committee are not allowed to express an opinion about a Planning Application before the meeting, so don’t be disappointed when they don’t do this – just politely insist they listen to you and answer any questions.
Here are some example objections to help. You can also read comments that others have sent in on the Planning Page (the ‘Comment Now’ link below).
Another example point of objection:
Rathlin Energy have recently pulled out of Northern Ireland, and their parent company Connaught Oil & Gas have recently announced that they are selling all their operations in Canada, to concentrate on East Yorkshire. They previously stated that their results from West Newton A are “encouraging”, so you are likely to end up with many more applications to drill in this area. They have stated that up to 6 more well sites are already planned.
The Planning Committee has a one-time opportunity to prevent the spread of industrial exploitation by refusing this current application. If they approve it, it will be very difficult to refuse later applications. I ask you to make it clear to the Committee what this will mean for the future of our region and its residents. East Yorkshire could become an example to the rest of the UK, as a promoter of renewable energy projects, or stuck with redundant technologies, incompatible with the need to mitigate climate change.