BY RUTH HAYHURST ON JANUARY 9, 2018
Opponents of plans by IGas to test its well at Ellesmere Port say more than 2,200 people have objected to the scheme, due to be decided later this month.
IGas has applied to Cheshire West and Chester Council to carry out two types of test at the Portside north site. It wants to assess the commercial potential for gas production in the Pentre Chert rock formation.
The council’s planning committee is expected to decide whether to grant consent at a meeting on 25 January 2018.
Frack Free Dee, a coalition of group opposed to the scheme, said today that more than 2,200 objections and petition signatures had been submitted against the application and just two comments in support.
The application (reference 217/03213/MIN) seeks to conduct drill stem and extended well tests at depths of 1,795-1,849m.
If approved, the work would involve at least 88 days of flaring and nearly 500 movements by heavy goods vehicles.
The company proposes to use acidisation, a technique to stimulate gas production from the well (leaflet). IGas said it was not seeking to frack at this stage and it said the Pentre Chert was not shale.
Objections hand-inMembers of the Frack Free Dee handed in final objections to the council’s planning department last week.
The coalition’s spokesperson, Steve Allman, said:
“This shows unprecedented opposition to this industry across the region. Local, professionally verified surveys have shown over 80% of communities are overwhelmingly opposed to fracking. This application is just one step closer to full scale fracking and the industrialisation of our beautiful countryside.”
Ellesmere Port resident Jackie Mayers and member of Frack Free Ellesmere Port, said:
“We collected hundreds of objections In Ellesmere Port Town Centre from our stall, feedback from locals was that this industry is not wanted here, we’ve had to put up with enough pollution over the years and enough is enough. Very few local jobs will be created and a renewable manufacturing industry is needed now.”
Ellesmere Port petition collection Frack Free Dee.JPGFrack Free Dee coalition collecting petition signatures. Photo: Frack Free Dee
Four local MPs addressed an anti-fracking rally in Ellesmere Port in November (DrillOrDrop report). One of them, Justin Madders, who represents Ellesmere Port and Neston, said:
“With so many objections I would hope that if the planning committee reject the application that the decision is accepted by all concerned and we don’t have Government pressure to approve the application through the back door like we have seen in Lancashire”.
Frack Free Upton member Colin Watson, said:
“I think we have an amazing response with over 2,200 objections and not only in number but the quality of many of the objections. This highlights the local concern of this industry and we are hoping our elected members will reject this application on the 25th.”
Reports by planning officers on the application and their recommendation are expected to be posted on line next week.
“Public concern”Adrianne Baines from Frack Free Frodsham and Helsby said:
“When we were speaking to the public, they were very concerned and had no knowledge about this application and were eager to register their concerns. It is very clear that people are recognising the negative impacts to both health and environment. Fracked gas in no way contributes to our energy security, which can only be gained through renewables.”
Wirral Against Fracking member, Zoe Blackwell, said:
“The sheer numbers of local residents that have been moved to speak out and give solid grounds in objection speaks for itself. We just hope that the elected council will listen to the public’s plea for the committee to reject this application. Fracking has been proven as disastrous to human health, the environment and the last straw for climate change”.
Cheshire West and Chester Councillor and environmental campaigner Matt Bryan said:
“It’s fantastic to see what can be achieved when communities and groups come together to raise awareness. It has been proven beyond scientific and medical doubt that this industry causes massive harm to those around it. We need a well-supported green sector to create sustainable, well-paid jobs and to meet the energy needs of residents.”
BackgroundThe Ellesmere Port well, on the Portside North industrial estate, was drilled in late 2014. The current application revealed that the well, intended to explore coal bed methane at a depth of 900m, was actually drilled about 1,000m deeper (DrillOrDrop report). IGas said the 900m depth was a minimum, not a maximum. Its test plans received an environmental permit in November 2017(IGas press release).
DrillOrDrop review of the application
Planning meetingFrack Free Dee said coalition groups planned to hold what they called a family friendly peaceful protest before the meeting on Thursday 25 January from 3.30pm onward. Representatives would be attending and speaking at the public planning meeting at 4pm at Cheshire West and Chester HQ building, on Nicolas Street, Chester. The meeting will be webcast. Link to meeting agenda.