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Plans to test for gas in Cheshire refused

Words: Laura Edgar
Fracking / iStock-539948020

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee has voted to reject IGas’s plans to carry out further tests for gas at Ellesmere Port.

Earlier this month, a council planning officer recommended that the application should be approved.

The well in question – Pentre Chert – was drilled in late 2014. The application included a flow test, aimed at enabling the company to better understand the volumes of gas it contains.

More than 1,400 objections were submitted against the application, with Friends of the Earth speaking at the committee meeting.

The campaign group argued that it should be rejected because the “proposed test site is situated just 1.85 kilometres from the town centre and only 700 metres from the closest residents”.

Additionally, the plans could have “threatened” the adjacent Special Protection Area of the Mersey Estuary, “which is an internationally important site for wintering birds”.

IGas wanted to establish whether hydrocarbon production could take place, which the company told the planning committee would not involve drilling or deepening the well, BBC News reported.

Polly Steiner, North West campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said the application did qualify as fracking.

“Councillors have listened to the hundreds of local people who have opposed shale gas testing and thankfully rejected these plans.

“Instead of dirty fracking, the government should be backing clean renewable energy which could create thousands of new jobs in Cheshire.”

BBC News noted that IGas said it would consider appealing against the decision.

Rotherham rejects plans for well

Rotherham Council has rejected Ineos’s plans to construct a 2.8 kilometre-deep well on land to the east of Harthill, near Rotherham. The company want to extract rock samples for testing.

Campaigners said approval of the application would lead to pollution and increased traffic in the area.

But Ineos had already asked the Planning Inspectorate to decide the application, claiming the council has taken too long to reach a decision, the Rotherham Advertiser reported.

This meant the application was already refused, but the council met to agree reasons for opposing Ineos’s plans. They cited access and “deficient” ecology report as its reasons.

Clark wants fracking firms to prove ‘financial resilience’

Energy secretary Greg Clark has said in a ministerial statement that shale gas firms will have to prove their “financial resilience” before they are able to drill.

Clark makes specific reference to Third Energy, which has permission from North Yorkshire County Council to frack at Kirby Misperton. The firm has failed to publish its 2016 accounts despite the deadline being 30 September 2017.

Although Clark thinks Third Energy has satisfied all the technical requirements, he said the company wouldn’t receive consent for the development until financial checks have been completed.

“I note that as of 24 January Third Energy UK Gas Limited and other related companies had yet to submit their accounts for the accounting period ending in December 2016, despite a statutory deadline of 30 September 2017 for them to do so. I have therefore asked the Oil and Gas Authority to seek further financial information from the company, including the required set of up-to-date accounts, to inform my decision,” wrote Clark.

Clark added that the government considers the financial resilience of a company wishing to hydraulically fracture as a relevant consideration.

Clark’s ministerial statement can be found on the UK Parliament website.

Read more:

Energy firm announces fracking plans for Cheshire

Yorkshire fracking plans approved

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