Another planning application for exploratory shale drilling in the UK has been validated, with a six-week consultation to end on July 8th. The planning application has been put in by Dart Energy, part of IGas, for a Tinker Lane site between Barnby Moor and Blyth, in Nottinghamshire.
Stephen Bowler, CEO of IGas, said:
“The drilling of the well at Tinker Lane will be another important step in helping us to understand the shale gas potential in north Nottinghamshire and more widely.
“IGas operates assets that have been producing oil and gas in the local area safely and in an environmentally responsible manner for over three decades. Our Tinker Lane operations will be conducted with exactly the same regulatory rigour and robust safety measures.
“As part of our commitment as a responsible operator, we will continue to work closely with the community around the site and seek to address any concerns they may have. I would encourage local residents to come and talk to us at our events which we will be holding over the coming weeks.”
Despite the operator’s assurances, there has been a lot of opposition to the exploratory well in the area, with protests staged outside the gates to the site, most recently in April.
“Many people in this peaceful rural area see a threat from this proposed industrialisation,” David Larder, chair of Bassetlaw Against Fracking, told Retford Times.
“The villages of Barnby Moor, Torworth and Blyth will be directly affected by 24 hour drilling, increased traffic on a busy road and the stench of methane if it is found.
“People are finding it impossible to sell their houses.
“There is no way the application can be put before a planning committee in July. It appears, in my view, that there will be consideration of it at the September County Planning Committee meeting as to whether or not the whole area of Tinker Lane site will be opened up for potential fracking of shale rock for methane gas, if they are successful with their initial exploration.”
All over the UK the progress of shale exploration is facing very strong opposition from grass-root anti-fracking groups. The lack of popular support for shale gas exploration has been plain to see in the recent decision by Scottish Parliament to indefinitely ban hydraulic fracturing in the country.
While the ministers said that the ban won’t affect the ongoing research into the practice that was undertaken during the earlier moratorium on fracking, the decision will put pressure on energy minister Paul Wheelhouse to rule out fracking in the long-term. Mr Wheelhouse is not expected to make the ruling any time soon, with many believing the decision may be as much as a year away.
According to The Scotsman, the vote does not oblige the government to impose the ban, but Labour immediately called for the Scottish Government to respect the decision reached by MSPs.
“The will of the Scottish Parliament has been made clear,” Labour environment spokeswoman Claudia Beamish said after the vote. “There should be an outright ban on fracking. The SNP may have abstained on the vote, but they cannot ignore the clear position of Scotland’s Parliament.”
Mr Wheelhouse said after the vote: “We are deeply sceptical about fracking and, through our moratorium, we have ensured that no fracking can take place in Scotland. Our abstention in this parliamentary vote respects and is in line with that moratorium.”
The Scottish Parliament’s decision is a further disappointment for Ineos – the chemical giant who owns the Grangemouth plant. Ineos is known to be a great supporter of shale, holding extensive shale licenses in Scotland. The company, which has recently announced that it has moved its fracking operations to Yorkshire (England), is currently importing U.S. shale gas to feed its plants in Scotland (Grangemouth) and Norway.
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