First planning application received for shale gas exploration in Derbyshire

12 May 2017

Oil and chemical firm INEOS has applied to us for planning permission to explore shale gas reserves on an area of land in North East Derbyshire.

The planning application put forward for an area of privately−owned land off Bramleymoor Lane, between Marsh Lane and Apperknowle, near Eckington, is the first of its kind for Derbyshire.

INEOS is one of several companies licensed by the Oil and Gas Authority to extract gas from shale deep in the ground by hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' − the process of injecting water and chemicals at high pressure deep underground to create tiny cracks so the gas can flow up a well to the surface and be collected.

The firm has applied for planning permission to erect a drilling rig up to 60 metres tall and drill around 2,400 metres down into the ground to investigate the suitability of the rock for fracking. And subject to the results of these investigations, it is also seeking permission to keep the well open for monitoring purposes.

Mike Ashworth, our Strategic Director for Economy, Transport and Communities, said:

"This is a planning application to carry out underground investigations − not fracking.

"As with any planning application and in our role as the mineral planning authority, we will carry out detailed consultation work and find out what people think of the proposals. This includes local people and the organisations we have to consult by law. 

"We have not received an application to carry out fracking. If and when we do, it would be a separate planning application and subject to a similar but separate detailed consultation with the public and other consultees."

INEOS' proposal is to create an exploratory well on the site including use of associated equipment, erecting temporary site cabins and creating car parking and vehicle access for a period of up to five years. Drilling is proposed to take place for approximately 10 weeks, 24 hours a day. At other times, work would take place between 7am and 7pm, Monday to Friday and 7am and 1pm on Saturdays, with no working on Sundays or Bank holidays. At its peak during the well and rig installation there would be a maximum of 30 HGV and smaller vehicles visiting the site each day.

People can view the planning application, find out how to make their views known and how to get involved in the planning process on our website.

Notices highlighting how people can get involved and send us their comments about the proposals will be placed in the local press and posted in the Marsh Lane area in the coming weeks. But first we need to check that the planning application contains all the necessary information. And central Government must conclude whether the application also needs a statutory environmental impact assessment − a formal process to assess in detail the impacts of potential development on the environment when the effects are likely to be significant.

In February we advised INEOS that its proposal for underground investigations at Marsh Lane did not require an environmental impact assessment. But INEOS together with other groups and organisations has asked Government for its view. 

We have already received many emails and letters from residents about the proposed drilling well and these views will be taken into consideration as part of the planning process.

As well as consulting with the public, we − in our role as the mineral planning authority − will consult with statutory consultees including other councils and national Government departments and agencies.

Mr Ashworth added:

"The county council has a legal obligation to decide on planning applications such as mining, underground drilling or fracking in Derbyshire. 

"Our planning committee considers each planning application on its individual merits and is impartial. Each planning decision is based on objective analysis of evidence, taking into account local and national planning policies and the relevant comments of the public and official consultees such as parish councils.

"No date has been set for the proposals to be considered by the planning committee but we're committed to making information available to the public every step of the way throughout the planning process and we'll keep our website up-to-date with all the latest information − including details of when the planning committee meeting will be held."