Oil and gas producer Third Energy has moved closer to exploring Britain’s shale gas when its application to carry out hydraulic fracturing at its Kirby Misperton field, North Yorkshire, received a planning official’s recommendation for approval. The company applied for the fracking license at the well, located in the Bowland shale formation, last year.
The head of planning at North Yorkshire County Council said in a report prepared ahead of a meeting of councillors due to be held on May 20 to decide on the application that it was “satisfied” that measures to mitigate effects on the natural environment, water, traffic and highways were “both appropriate and proportionate”. The objections to the fracturing operations included those related to potential adverse impacts on surface and groundwater resources, nature, landscape, air quality and ground vibration.
This certainly is a step in the right direction for the UK shale operator, although in itself does not guarantee that planning approval will be granted.
The company’s chief executive, Rasik Valand welcomed the planning official’s decision adding that Third Energy has been producing gas from the site “safely and discreetly”.
“We are pleased that the planning officer has recommended that North Yorkshire County Council approve our application,” he said.
“Within our application, and throughout North Yorkshire County Council’s thorough assessment of it, including various stages of consultation, and through all the additional information provided, we have addressed the wide range of questions, concerns and comments raised by NYCC, statutory consultees and others.”
“This work is reflected in the planning officer’s report together with the planning conditions proposed. We believe that this thorough report will enable North Yorkshire County Council to reach a positive determination on our application.”
Ken Cronin, chief executive of industry group United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG), also welcomed the decision saying in a statement that: “It is good news that the North Yorkshire County Council planning officer is recommending that the planning application at Kirby Misperton is approved, reflecting the hard work NYCC officers and Third Energy have done to address concerns that have been raised following extensive consultations.
“We will look forward to the council’s decision on that application, in due course.
“This recommendation should not be seen by anyone as a surprise, considering the well at Kirby Misperton has already been approved by the council, Health and Safety Executive and an independent well examiner and subsequently drilled.
“The further application for the hydraulic fractures has also received approval by the Environment Agency with the issue of relevant Permits.”
Anti-fracking campaigners from across the UK have pledged to stage a protest against the plans when North Yorkshire county council’s planning committee meets on 20 May, with Dame Vivienne Westwood expected to attend.
Simon Bowens, a Friends of the Earth’s Yorkshire campaigner, said: “North Yorkshire Councillors have been presented with clear evidence that Third Energy’s application could harm local wildlife, local business, people’s health and the environment – including from Ryedale District Council, Flamingo Land and the Wildlife Trust.
“The council must now listen to the thousands of residents who have objected to fracking, and the strong evidence put before them, and reject Third Energy’s proposal to frack.”
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