‘Unnecessary’ Derbyshire ‘twin’ fracking application to be addressed

A meeting will be held later this month to decide whether or not Derbyshire County Council will process a repeated application from oil and chemical firm INEOS for planning permission to explore shale gas reserves near Eckington.

INEOS wants to erect a drilling rig up to 60 metres tall and drill around 2,400 metres below the ground off Bramleymoor Lane, in the village of Marsh Lane, to investigate the suitability of the rock for fracking.

The firm submitted an application to the County Council last May but in December, before the Council says it was ready to decide on it, INEOS chose to make an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate saying it could not continue to wait for a decision.

It means a public inquiry will now be held with the decision whether or not to grant planning permission being taken by a planning inspector.

However, says the Council, soon after its appeal, INEOS sent it a repeat of its first planning application − a process known as ‘twin tracking’ − for the same proposals on the same site.

The law allows Councils to refuse to process some twin track applications. The senior officer with responsibility for planning matters will advise planning committee members not to deal with the repeated application from INEOS, at a meeting on 29 January 2018.

Mike Ashworth, Derbyshire County Council’s strategic director for economy, transport and environment, − the department responsible for planning − said: “It seems to us that there is nothing to be gained from dealing with this repeat application when an appeal process for the proposal is ongoing.

“We feel it would be confusing and an unnecessary burden on the public to invite comments again on exactly the same proposal.”

He added: “The Planning Committee has to assess whether this is a good use of public money given that the second application is for identical development to the first.

“By processing the second application, the county council would have all the associated costs of repeating the public consultation and its dealings with other official bodies.

“The nationally set £8,000 fee paid by INEOS to the council on the first application only covers a small proportion of the public cost involved − currently totalling around £100,000 − and there is no fee payable on the second application.

“We still prefer these planning decisions to stay at the local county level and stand by our actions to carry out thorough and robust public consultation about the proposal last year. But INEOS took this matter out of our hands when they referred their application to the Planning Inspectorate. We will be pressing for the public inquiry into this application to be held as soon as possible.”

All the original comments made to the county council during the public consultation have been sent to the Planning Inspectorate so that all views expressed so far can be taken into account for the public inquiry − which is expected to be held later this year.

At a meeting on 5 February 2018, the Council’s Planning Committee will consider a report on the appeal from our director for planning.

The committee will be asked to give a view on the proposal so that the Planning Inspector takes into account the council’s position when deciding whether or not to grant planning permission for development on Bramleymoor Lane.

The report will include summaries of the comments received from the public and other consultees during the official consultations held last year.

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