After two rounds of consultation, British operator IGas has been granted a mining waste permit by the UK Environment Agency for the Springs Road site in north Nottinghamshire.
The company said it has carried out a “rigorous assessment” of its proposals and a “detailed consideration” of all comments submitted during two rounds of public consultations.
Having obtained the permits, the company must now comply with rules set out to protect ground and surface water, air quality, and ensure the safe storage, management and disposal of waste materials.
“Should IGas 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,” an Environment agency spokesman said.
IGas – Britain’s largest shale developer – welcomed the decision, with the company’s CEO Stephen Bowler saying that: “This is an important step towards having the necessary permissions in place to carry out exploratory drilling at Springs Road in order to evaluate the geology of the area.
“Such a detailed review by the regulator alongside the public consultation demonstrates that, as we have committed, our proposed exploratory operations will be carried out safely and in an environmentally responsible manner.”
Igas has stated that it is making good progress on its five-year shale development plan aiming to start drilling at two wells in the first half of 2017, subject to planning and permitting.
This is a welcome development for the company which has been burdened with debt and searching for investors to strengthen its balance sheet.
In a company update, IGas has announced that it has been cutting its debt over the last 14 months amid oil price volatility through bond buybacks and the amortisation of secured bonds.
It has been also been in discussions with bondholders about extending debt maturity, deferring certain interest payments and waivering some financial obligations on the expectation that further finance is generated for the business.
“In relation to these financing requirements, the company is in discussions with a number of potential investors and continues to evaluate options for cash and earnings accretive transactions including farm-outs and other asset portfolio management opportunities,” IGas said in a statement.
IGas shares fell by almost 10.5 percent to 15.40 pence by 0853 GMT.
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