UK operator Third Energy has been granted a permit by the Environment Agency to explore shale gas at a site – known as KM8 – near Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire.
Third Energy said the permit marked an “important step” and demonstrated that fracking can be “managed without impacting on the local environment”.
The agency carried out what it called a “rigorous assessment” of the proposal and the results of two public consultations before granting the permission which compels the company to protect the ground and surface water and ensure the safe storage, management and disposal of waste at the site.
Martin Christmas, the agency’s environment manager for North Yorkshire, told the BBC News: “After completing a thorough assessment of Third Energy’s application and all of the responses to our public consultations, we are confident that these environmental permits set out the right conditions to ensure that people and the environment are protected.
“Should Third Energy receive the appropriate planning permission and begin the permitted activities, we will stringently enforce the conditions of the permits to ensure that waste is managed properly and local groundwater is protected.”
John Dewar, operations director for Third Energy, said: “This is another important step towards having the necessary permissions in place to fracture the KM8 well and evaluate the potential of the shale resource to produce gas commercially.”
The company still awaits the decision of the North Yorkshire County Council on the application submitted last year.
Third Energy follows the footsteps of Cuadrilla Resources – another British operator hoping to explore the country’s shale deposits. After being denied permission to drill up to four test wells at a site in Preston New Road and four test wells at Roseacre Wood last July, the company is now awaiting the UK Government’s decision on appeal of that ruling.
The Secretary of State’s office appointed Wendy McKay as planning inspector in the dispute, and tasked her with preparing a report and making recommendations – a task she is expected to complete by 4th July 2016. Her recommendation will then be analysed by the Secretary of State’s office, which will render a final decision.
Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan said last October that “We are confident that shale gas exploration will bring many benefits to Lancashire, including our own direct investment in local people and suppliers for our new head office.”
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