A Government planning inspector has dismissed appeals by Egdon Resources after the plans were twice turned down by North Lincolnshire Council.
Plans for the long-term commercial drilling of oil at a site in North Lincolnshire have been rejected by the Government.
Egdon Resources applied for permission to retain an existing well and access road at Wressle to carry out the project, having previously been granted approval for exploration work at the site in 2013.
The controversial application to retain the well for commercial oil production led to fierce opposition amid claims from protesters that it would involve fracking, and was twice rejected by North Lincolnshire Council’s planning committee.
Councillors refused permission for the scheme to proceed in January last year, saying they were concerned about a lack of information on ground contamination and how the operation would affect the local community and the local economy.
The application was then turned down again in July, on the grounds that insufficient information had been provided.
Egdon Resources appealed to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate against the decisions, and another one to refuse permission to extend the drilling exploration period by 12 months, and the case went to a six-day public inquiry, which was held in Scunthorpe in November.
At the inquiry, Alan Evans, speaking on behalf of the council, said if the applications were granted, they would impose an “unacceptable impact on the local residents, the community and the local economy”.
He argued that the refusals were justified because of a “lack of information” provided by Egdon and that certain planning requirements had not been met.
But Richard Glover, speaking on behalf of Egdon Resources, said there was “nothing unusual or sensitive about the site” and that no objections had been raised when the council granted permission for exploration work at the site in 2013.
He added that no complaints had been raised during the exploration work, showing it had been managed in the proper way and that oil and gas remain a significant contributor to UK energy.
Now, planning inspector Keri Williams, who chaired the inquiry, has decided to dismiss both of the appeals against the decisions not to allow the commercial production of oil, although the appeal to extend the time limit for exploration was allowed.
In his report explaining the decisions, Mr Williams said it had not been shown that “unacceptable adverse impacts to groundwater resources and water courses” would not come from the development.
He said: “In reaching my overall conclusion I give great weight to the benefits which would arise from this development. It would contribute to the provision of secure energy supplies and would be consistent with providing for a mix of energy sources during the transition to a low carbon economy. An established site would be used and there would be a degree of national and local economic benefit to the rural economy.
“I also take into account the Environment Agency’s primary role as regulator in the protection of water resources. The EA has considered the proposals acceptable subject to conditions, resulting in the issue of the Environmental Permit.
“Nevertheless, these matters do not outweigh other considerations. It is consistent with PPG that a decision maker should be satisfied with regard to issues concerning the effect of development on groundwater resources and water courses.
“Having regard to my conclusions on the absence of a ground conditions survey report and of sufficient evidence on the adequacy of the GCL covering, it has not been shown that unacceptable adverse impacts to groundwater resources and water courses would not arise during the life of the development.
“The development does not meet the requirement arising from LP policies M1 and M23 to show that the proposed environmental protection measures would be adequate to mitigate impacts. It would not be consistent with criterion 10 of policy CS18. Nor has it been shown that the requirements of Framework paragraphs 109, 121 and 122 would be met.
“Having regard to the above and to all other matters raised I therefore conclude that Appeals A and B should not succeed.”
Mr Williams determined the exploration period would be extended to April 28 this year.
He said: “The balance of evidence is that Appeal C should succeed. I shall therefore grant a new planning permission subject to those conditions which remain necessary and relevant. Those conditions are needed to protect residential amenity and the environment.”
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