The report “First Studies on the separation of the Bowland-Hodder shale unit from coal mining activity in the East Midlands” was tasked to take the existing available data from the Coal Authority, borehole data and existing seismic surveys as a first step to looking at the separation distances between old coal workings and the two borehole sites at Tinker lane and Springs Road. “This is to be used for public engagement purposes”.
The conclusions from the report are less than surprising and are pretty much what our Tinker Lane communities already know of the relationship between the old coal workings and the Tinker Lane wellpad.
That in the ground between the Tinker lane and Springs Road sites and to the west, these coals have been mined.
That no coal mines exist immediately beneath either of the proposed IGas sites at Tinker Lane or Springs Road
There are vertical separation distances quoted in the report between shale and coal workings that vary across the area from 310 metres to the south and 1,300 metres to the northwest. On BGS calculations the Tinker lane site is somewhat closer (horizontal separation) to the Harworth workings than we had calculated (we thought 1,000 metres or so) at approx 800 metres. Springs Road is 2,700 metres away from old coal workings. One figure in the report actually shows Tinker lane 700-800 metres and Springs Road 1,700 metres away.
The report mentions that there are 3D seismic data available, this must be a reference to Springs road where 3D seismic was undertaken by IGas a few years ago. However this data was not included in the study and one wonders if it were made availabe to BGS. No 3D data is of course available for Tinker lane as no contemporary surveys either of 2D or 3D have been undertaken. Indeed the report candidly states that the seismic interpretation is based on 2D exploration lines of varying vintage (1982-1987).
On first reading, and there is a lot of technical stuff but there is no mention of the issue that consumes us and that is that the vintage seismic dataset predates the nearest coal working activity of 2002-2003 at Tinker lane. Have the mining activities had an impact upon the geology of the Tinker lane site (mining induced faulting)?
The data that is missing from the report is shown on the annotated map of the old coal workings closest to Tinker lane attached BGS_Map.jpg. This map by courtesy of Torworth Parish Council who bought a set of the maps from the Coal Authority clearly shows the dates that mining took place.
What is now required is for OGA to commission the second phase study, a more rigorous study as described by BGS to add base mine workings to the existing 3D model and hydrocarbons database. Presumably BGS are fully aware that no 3D exists for Tinker lane?
We therefore look forward to hearing that OGA are committed to making a proper assessment on the separation of shale activities from old coal workings by making a prompt committment to getting this work underway as soon as possible.
A couple of things came out of a letter sent from Energy Minister Claire Perry to MP Kevin Hollinrake dated 30th July 2018.
Although it might be considered stale news it has only just been brought to our attention by a resident and Drill or Drop. The Energy Minister suggests that there might be scope to adjust the earthquake trigger levels to higher levels over time as experience is gained. The current rules, known as the traffic light system, require fracking to stop if the operation causes seismic activity at a level of 0.5ML. This relaxation can according to Perry be achieved without compromising the effectiveness of controls.
Perry also mentions a report commissioned by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) in the aftermath of the concerns raised by Professor Peter Styles (whose own report concluded that fracking near geological faults in former coal mining areas could trigger earthquakes). The (OGA) report written by the British Geological Survey (BGS) was completed by 30th July 2018 and rests currently with the OGA.
The OGA’s remit to BGA, so described by Perry in her letter to Hollinrake, “to review the depth and location of historic coal mines, with a focus on the region in and around the two proposed Gas shale gas sites at Springs Road and Tinker Lane”. Clearly this is an issue of great concern and importance to the communities within the area of interest around Tinker lane wellsite and their representatives on the Tinker lane CLG.
It has to be said that the CLG have been as surprised as the residents (along with MP John Mann also in the dark) who first spotted that a report had been commissioned and indeed completed. If the BGS report is made public without redaction or tampering it can only be to the good. However the fact that nothing has yet been admitted/published by OGA since 30th July 2018 is not a good sign. The CLG will ensure that the report is considered at the CLG meeting on 18th October and we will post again on the issue.
IGas inform us that they have now received the sealed order dated 5th October 2018 from the High Court which follows the Court Hearing of 2nd October 2018. We note that the Schedule 16 has now been removed from the Order which is a particular relief to the CLG whose website (this website) together with several others, a website and a Facebook group, who were also unjustifiably caught up in the list of Schedule 16 . The CLG argued that the earlier inclusion of this websites domain name was unwarranted and might be construed as a slur on the good name of the CLG itself. We are lead to believe that our website domain and that of the others, as above, were specifically earmarked for removal from the Schedule and hence will not appear in any reincarnation of the Order.
In the Conservative Party 2017 manifesto a commitment was made to develop a shale industry in Britain. The following statement was made:
We will legislate to change planning law for shale applications. Non-fracking drilling will be treated as permitted development, expert planning functions will be established to support local councils, and, when necessary, major shale planning decisions will be made the responsibility of the National Planning Regime.
On the 19th July 2018 the Government published two consultation papers relating to shale gas proposals. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published a consultation on the principle of whether non hydraulic fracturing shale exploration development should be granted planning permission through a permitted development right.This consultation paper can be found at Appendix 1.
The second paper, published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, is consulting on the criteria required to trigger the inclusion of shale gas production projects into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime. This consultation paper can be found at Appendix 2. The closing date for comments on both consultations is 25th October 2018.
The changes in planning law that would result are designed to speed up the planning processes or in government speak to introduce ”a range of measures to facilitate timely decisions on shale planning applications”.
The Consultations are of particular importance to our communities. We live in an area that is of interest to the shale gas companies who believe that shale gas might be extracted by fracking the underlaying shale layer, the Bowland Shale. Work has already started on two exploratory wells at Springs Road Misson and Tinker Lane in the parish of Torworth.
At the Tinker Lane CLG meeting of 12th September a representative from Nottinghamshire County Council told us that the County Council will make its own Council response to the consultations. Planning Officers have prepared reports of their take on the proposals in both consultations for presentation to the Planning and Licensing Committee meeting of 18th September 2108. A background paper can be found here. The officers recommendations on the Permitted Development Consultation are found at Appendix 3 and for the National Significant Infrastructure Project Regime at Appendix 4.
As Nottinghamshire County Council have worked on and granted the two applications for planning permission for exploratory drilling for shale gas and have much experience of applications and regulations of conventional oil and gas wells within Nottinghamshire their take on the consultations are considered a worthwhile read and are made available on the website.
The consultations are important, the outcomes might well have a direct bearing on how, and how quickly, the governments avowed intention to develop a shale gas industry is prosecuted. We urge the communities that are in the vicinity of the Tinker Lane exploratory borehole to respond to the consultations.
On 3rd September 2018, following a previous hearing in private on 31st August 2018, Mr Justice Morgan granted IGas an interim injunction for the following sites: Tinker Lane, Springs Road Misson and Ellesmere Port.
Of particular interest to the Tinker lane CLG and the local communities that we represent are the definitions and restrictions imposed upon the Tinker Lane exploratory borehole site. The full interim injunction can be viewed on the IGas website.
The order effectively prohibits trespass onto the Tinker lane site, prohibits activity that impedes access on or off the site, prohibits obstruction on the access road roads to and from the site as detailed on Drawing TL6/1 in the Planning Application. (effectively north (B6045) and south access (A634) from the A1, A634 Retford road to the site). The order threatens that a miscreant would be in contempt of court with consequences of imprisonment fines or assets seizure. Certain organisations, groups and individuals have been identified as “believed to oppose the Claimants’ (IGas) activity at the sites” in the Schedule 16.
Just as we were surmising that drilling would start in early September at Tinker Lane, IGas have announced in a Trading Statement issued today that as a consequence of delays in their preparations they are now pushing back to start in Q4, presumably an early October start. The statement also implies that Tinker lane will be drilled before Springs Road. The relevant section from the Trading Statement is shown below.
Tinker Lane – we have experienced some delays in our final preparations and now expect to spud our first shale appraisal well in North Nottinghamshire at Tinker Lane in Q4 2018
Springs Road – construction works are nearing completion. As we have satisfied Condition 21 through the ongoing monitoring of site noise this has enabled us to resume works through the bird breeding season
Reasonable for the CLG to ask for a little more detail on the delays. Watch this space!
Pictured above is another image from the set taken on 1st August showing the fabrication adjacent to the well cellar.
Image above shows the Marriotts team on site at Tinker lane today (1st August 2018). More evidence perhaps that the decision is already made on choice of rig. Its the Marriotts HH220 as we surmised and it looks as though preparations are in hand to afford a start of the drilling phase at the end of the month. We also hear that a HH220, owned by Marriotts is on the move from Preston New Road. A quick lick of paint, maybe a re-badge with an IGas logo or two at Danesmoor and we can then expect that they will be poised and ready to deliver to site in early September.
The Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) have issued revisions to the licence conditions for a number of drilling companies. Seemingly this is a call to bring forward plans to seismically test, drill and frack wells in certain licence areas. The changes to the licence conditions in PEDL 200 (where Tinker Lane is situated and shown on the map of Bassetlaw licence areas above) appear to be quite tame as if discussions have been undertaken with the developer in advance to ensure that targets might be met. The requirement for PEDL 200 will be met if one well is drilled by 31st December 2018 and a horizontal well drilled by June 2021. Well it must be on the cards that Tinker Lane will be drilled this year, the drilling companies are poised, it’s either DrillTec or Marriott HH220 rigs (images in sidebar). Indeed, there have been reports and images on social media today of a Marriotts team busying themselves at Tinker Lane. Their people seen huddled around the conductors they completed drilling just last month. Must be highly likely that Marriotts are contracted to use their HH220 drilling rig, previously contracted by IGas to drill at Barton Moss.
So its either a survey to locate the elusive hobby (bird of prey) or IGas will hold off the drilling phase until the end of August. Now, who is going to undertake a survey when its just a matter of a few weeks to sit this one out. We can expect IGas to formally nominate Marriott’s rig to NCC within weeks and the drilling phase to start in early September.
PEDL 210 is an IGAS licence area to the east of Sturton, just the tip of which is in Bassetlaw, also earmarked for early investigation by OGA. The licence for PEDL 210 now calls for a well to be drilled by 30th June 2021. A comprehensive article on the OGA decisons is available on the Drill or Drop website.
Nottinghamshire County Council have announced that their draft Minerals Local Plan is open to consultation. The consultation period runs from 27th July 2018 until 28th September 2018. There are of course a number of issues that will be of interest to our local communities, in particular the Counties take on quarrying and the extraction of hydrocarbons. Of particular interest to the CLG., Policy MP12 Hydrocarbon Minerals, 4.104 Shale Gas and following. The question posed, Question 21, What do you think of the draft policy to meet demand for hydrocarbon minerals over the plan period.
So local people what exactly do you think of the proposals?
In the three weeks since the CLG site visit on 3rd July and indeed an earlier look see over the fence there is little change on site. The conductors are shown in the image taken today and are as observed in mid June. We have not heard if iGas intend to undertake the hobby survey or are prepared to sit this out until September. We’d guess the latter unless a drill rig becomes immediately available. No new activity on NCC’s planning portal either, where we would expect to see confirmation that IGas have selected a particular drilling rig and advised NCC of their selection. So July is a another quiet month at Tinker Lane for which the Hobby and its brood might be particularly grateful.
The National Grid has just released its annual review “Future Energy Scenarios” which makes for interesting if heavy reading. In its review it is clear that natural gas remains the mainstay of both electricity generation and heating. However changes to the distribution network brought about by decentralisation, whereby electricity is generated for example by solar, wind turbines and in some scenarios perhaps from gas engines running on shale gas rather than large multi GW powerstations will needs be factored in. Where natural gas is used to generate electricity then exhaust gas decarbonisation will be required (even on modern combined cycle gas turbines CCGT) and in the home a move to low carbon heating will be necessary (such as ground source heat pumps). Wind turbines and solar generation are intermittent sources of generation and will be coupled to the more inflexible (base load) nuclear power stations. Battery storage systems will be required to manage the troughs and interconnectors importing/exporting to the continent as appropriate. The continued roll out of smart meters and smart chargers will all help to manage electricity demand.
In order to meet our climate change obligations we have to decarbonise our economy and the National Grid who are responsible for the transmission of electricity and gas in the UK are looking at a number of scenarios in order to meet projected demands.
Of particular interest to our group, involved as we are with a company keen to develop possible shale gas reserves in the UK, are the assessments of gas supply and any role that the National Grid sees for shale gas. In 2,000 we were self sufficient in natural gas and now our needs are met by importing around 50% of our requirements from the continent (natural gas) and LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) from further afield.
In the review on gas supply there are 4 scenarios. In the uncertainty that surrounds the development of a shale gas extractive industry only 2 scenarios are considered whereby shale makes a contribution. The level of pick up for shale production is portrayed as a function of the manner in which development monies might be applied to enhancing the supply from our own North Sea holdings against that which is invested in shale. One scenario considers a slow increase in shale production from 2025 to a peak in 2050 of around 12 bcm, the other a huge expansion from 2020 to 2035 peaking at 25 bcm in 2050.
So its either no shale, some shale or lots of shale.
What is also interesting, reading between the lines is that the grid envisage that shale gas if developed would be connected to both the distribution and transmission networks. (sold as gas and electricity). Now INEOS have intimated that they would use the gas themselves to meet process requirements and maybe to sell for export (abroad). IGas also gave us the impression they would also prefer to sell gas rather than electricity. In the event it is the new Electricity System Operator, a spin off from the National Grid ,who any would be gas producer will have to deal with and who will no doubt wish to influence that decision.
As we have got closer to seeing the start of drilling at Tinker lane the Community Liaison Group (CLG) have been receiving more questions from local folk as to what is happening, why it is happening and how it might affect us. These questions, if we do not already have the answers are promptly referred back to the developer IGas, who to date have responded in a timely fashion. If as the project proceeds you find you have new questions then contact your Parish representative on the CLG or if you prefer use the contact form on this website. Should you wish to see the Exploratory Well Site (from outside of the compound) we will happily accompany you to the gate, if you are on your own it can be quite daunting! Meanwhile check out the posts on the website and keep an eye on the minutes of the CLG meetings, links to the minutes are in the sidebar.
The Community Liaison Group visited Tinker Lane this morning. The site construction phase is now complete, conductors have been drilled, the conductor nearest to A634 will be drilled the other is a spare. The site is barren of equipment and indeed personnel pending the arrival of the drilling rig. IGas advised that no decision has yet been made on the drilling rig, the choice would seem to be a matter of availability. There is no news either on the hobby survey which is also pending. Images from the visit are available from the gallery.
MP for North East Derbyshire, Lee Rowley, is to chair an All Party Parliamentary Group on Shale Gas and how the extraction process might impact on former underground mine workings.
Large areas of the coalfields in the East Midlands were deep mined. Some as recently as 5 years ago (Thoresby Colliery) and the workings from Harworth Colliery (1 km from Tinker Lane borehole) in 2002 and 2004. A recent report by Emeritus Professor Peter Styles highlights his concerns around the process and Professor Styles will make a contribution to the hearings.
The Coal Authority have an online interactive map that shows clearly the underground workings that are known, largely from British Coals era, from which the map above has been drawn. The map highlights the extent of the known deep mining undertaken in the area, other earlier works are not documented. It will be interesting to see if the All Party consensus view supports the concerns raised by Professor Styles.
All is quiet at Tinker Lane today (19th June). The image (taken early this morning) shows the two conductors sticking proud of the cellar, awaiting one imagines the main drill rig. The CLG meet today and we should then be in a better position to update our communities on a forward programme. Nottinghamshire County Council’s Enforcement Officer will be present at the CLG meeting discussing no doubt the infringements and enforcement actions that might follow. The minutes of the meetings are publicly available, accessed from the home page of this website.
IGas have advised us that the work to install the conductors has been completed successfully. The conductors have been installed down to bedrock to a depth of approximately 60 metres. From the aerial photo, taken again by Eric Walton, the two conductor pipes are shown clearly standing proud of the cellar base. Have to say I have been rather confused about this, the narrative from the documentation submitted to NCC Planning Committee spoke thus:
- creation of a wellsite platform using impermeable geotextile membrane layers covered by a layer of aggregate hardstanding and the installation of a 4m deep wellhead cellar with associated steel conductors (the development would incorporate 2 cellars, though only one well is applied for and would be drilled; the spare cellar is a back-up and is simply acontingency measure).
IGas have since pointed out that on drawing TL3/03, Proposed Site Construction Phase, there is marked up on the cellar plan view a Backup/spare well and Well 1. It didn’t occur to me that this meant that two conductors would installed. The confusion is over the term “drilled”. Seemingly the use of the term “drilling” applies to the main drill (down through the conductor pipe) of which there will be one only, unless something goes wrong with that. All cleared up then! Any questions channel them through your local CLG representative or simply use the contact form on this website.
Over the last few days there have been protests at the site gate and on occasions spilling onto the A634. A combination of lock-ons and surfing on the Marriotts No 5 drill rig as it left Tinker Lane have resulted in a hefty police presence and disruption on the A634. With the removal of the drilling rig, the auger is still on site, but appeared to be retracted and away from the conductor hole it is likely that this, the last piece of work to complete the construction phase is largely complete. It is likely that the main rig will be delivered to site soon. The CLG will meet next week and we should therefore be able to update you all on the forward program.
In an editorial for this week’s British Medical Journal, reported on Drill or Drop website, David McCoy and Patrick Saunders cautioned that fracking might have an adverse impact on climate change stating:
“Although we can’t be certain about the scale of harm that shale gas production will bring to local communities and the immediate environment, it will exacerbate climate change. And on these grounds alone, the risks clearly and considerably outweigh any possible benefits.”
Their concerns related to methane leakage into the atmosphere. With leakage rates high from production and supply pipelines , the impact on climate change would be considerable with methane being 86 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2 over a 20 year period GWP20.
What we take to be Marriotts No 5 rig is now in position over the conductor hole. Image taken the morning of 7th June 2018.
And once again another image of the Liebherr LB-16 auger drilling rig operated by PR Marriott Drilling. This time in position, seemingly over the nearside A634 hole, drilling into soil rather than just fresh air! Image clearly shows soil/spoil trapped in the scrolls of the auger bit. There were noticeable groans heard as work was undertaken, believed to be from the auger rather than from the drillers.
An image taken today of the construction of the conductor shows the Liebherr LB-16 auger drilling rig operated by PR Marriott Drilling. The auger drilling bit itself looks rather pristine and we wonder if it has yet been introduced into the hole. Strange because Eric’s earlier aerial shot seemed to show the rig “augered up” and operating on the hole furthest away from the road. The current image seems to show work ongoing on the hole nearest to the road. Maybe IGas will give us an update?
NCC’s Monitoring & Enforcement Officer and a colleague visited Tinker lane site today. Pictured on site and inset (Turner) at the site entrance. Presumably we will get some feedback in due course as to any findings. Certainly we will look for a report on the visit at the next CLG meeting in mid June. Also to be seen and heard outside the site entrance was the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett. More of Natalie’s visit on the Tinker Lane Facebook pages. Images courtesy Eric Walton
MP for Bassetlaw John Mann (pictured above) tabled an early day motion (1303) on 22nd May 2018, “Fracking in the Former Coal Fields”. Sponsored by a number of fellow labour MP’s Kevin Barron, Ronnie Campbell, Kevin Hopkins and interestingly Jim Shannon of the DUP. The motion calls for a moratorium on fracking related activities in the coal fields and reads:
This this House welcomes the contribution of Professor Emeritus Peter Styles of Keele University, past-President of the Geological Society and formerly advisor on fracking seismology to Prime Minister David Cameron and the Department for the Environment and Climate Change on his new report presented to the Yorkshire Geological Society on the likely impact of fracking in former coalfield areas and the increased earthquake risks; notes Professor Styles’s demonstration of the significantly enhanced risk of earthquakes posed by fracking beneath coal-mined areas where mining-induced seismicity has already occurred; further notes his conclusion that this may have a significant impact on estimates of UK frackable gas reserves; calls on the Government to introduce a 500-metre buffer zone between former mine workings and current technologies for extracting unconventional energy sources and implement the 2015 and 2018 recommendations of an 850 metre buffer zone between fracking and any significant natural fractures or faults; urges the Government to examine the industry’s capability and capacity to identify faults or fractures likely to lead to any prohibited seismic events; further urges the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to adopt Professor Styles’s best practice recommendation that planning applications for any fracking site include all available, high-resolution, carefully mapped data sets and incorporate these in the National Planning Policy Framework, with reference to applications to frack; and further calls on the Government and local authorities to place a moratorium on fracking-related activities in coalfield areas which consider Professor Styles’s findings and report their conclusions.
In a report, ”Fracking and Historic Coal Mining: Their relationship and should they coincide?” issued yesterday Professor Emeritus Peter Styles a former advisor to the government raised concerns over the safety of fracking in mining areas in the Bowland Shale.
Professor Styles describes how the Bowland Shale, targeted by fracking companies lies in close proximity in some areas to worked underground coal workings and that on fracking the shale there might be an interaction that gives rise to seismic events (earthquakes). Styles makes the point that it is crucial that there is an understanding of the inherent faulting of an area targeted for unconventional gas extraction before activity takes place.
Much of the mapping information of faulting in the coal mining areas comes not unsurprisingly from the coal industry itself. This information is reckoned to be very accurate indeed and identifies much of the faulting that would otherwise be a problem if fracked. Many areas currently earmarked for exploratory drilling are in areas beneath which are old coal workings that have already experienced subsidence and fault rejuvenation.
To add to the government’s woes it appears that the much vaunted traffic light system is unfit for purpose, another factor that the gas companies might have been relying on.
The point here is that Styles was (but probably never again!) an advisor to the government and therefore the government knew, or should have known, when they sold the Petroleum Development licences that there were potential issues with the licences (the goods) they were selling. Thus goods were sold to the gas industry that were known by government to be of unsatisfactory quality and not fit for the purpose of fracking. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (Sale of Goods Act) the gas companies might therefore return the faulty items (licences) and claim a refund. If I were in that situation my claim would already be on it’s way.
IGas have today copied a report that details the Archaeological Watching Brief as required to meet compliance with Tinker Lane Planning Condition 31 as imposed by NCC. The objective being to identify, investigate, understand, record, and report the extent, nature and significance of any surviving archaeological remains within the excavated area.
The report, which is comprehensive, can be found here.
The report concludes: The work successfully identified two ditches and a gully that formed part of a probable Roman ‘Brickwork- Plan’ field system. It has not been possible to accurately date the fills of the features. The lack of artefacts supports the impression from the wider cropmark evidence that there was no contemporary occupation nearby. The lack of pottery in the topsoil and features and the exposed nature of the site suggest the fields were not manured and may have been used for pasture, possibly for sheep.
Four horse teeth were found, apparently originating from the same animal but of indeterminate age.
Just 10 days ago a consultation on central governments proposed revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) closed. Sutton Parish Council amongst other parish councils in the area dutifully responded to that consultation. Suttons response included comments on the proposals to fast track the current process adopted by Minerals Planning Authorities in the determination of applications involving unconventional hydrocarbons.
Planning authorities it was suggested in the proposals should “recognise the benefits of on-shore oil and gas development, including unconventional hydrocarbons, for the security of energy supplies and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy; and put in place policies to facilitate their exploration and extraction.”
Now some 10 days later It would seem that Secretary of State Greg Clark is either an accomplished speed reader, has assimilated and disregarded the opinions and concerns of local councils and people, or more likely we think that his mind was already made up.
Clark announces in his written statement “a range of measures to facilitate timely decisions” in advance of a rehash of the the NPPF. Laughably, and this is the only element of Clarks “Dash for Gas” that is laughable the measures only apply to England. No wish to upset Nicola Sturgeon unduly, battling as she is with INEOS in the Scottish Courts and likely anyway that INEOS will make its mark there with its trump card, Grangemouth. Sturgeon is already queering Theresa May’s Brexit negotiating hand and more grief at the moment is not on the agenda. Not a lot of interest by the gas companies in the unconventional gas reserves in Wales and Northern Ireland, and we certainly do not wish to upset Arlene, that can be costly! So we will leave those three be, dealing with Nationalists is a lot harder than dealing with a few English protestors.
Clark’s announcement puts England, the north of England in particular, the Bowland Shale, us, in the fracking front line and vulnerable to the proposed liberalisation of planning and regulatory controls. With some political reverse alchemy the “Gold Standard of Regulations” will likely become the “Base Metal Standard” and exploratory drilling, including no doubt those fracked stages of less than 1,000 cubic metres will be allowed under permitted development.
Whatever your view on the development of unconventional hydrocarbons the tide has just turned against localism. Central government knows best, or perhaps is overly influenced by he who lobbies hardest and carries the biggest wad.
As for including shale gas as a National Significant Infrastructure Project, whereby decisions are taken by a government inspector, that will be the coup de grace for the principle of localism. For that reason alone protestors, those in favour of unconventional gas extraction and the silent majority who have yet to come to a decision might unite in despair.
IGas welcomes the Government’s support and commitment to our industry as laid out in the Written Ministerial Statement (“WMS”) from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government today.
The statement itself constitutes a material consideration in planning decisions and reiterates that shale gas development is of national importance. Government will publish revised planning practice guidance on shale development in the summer alongside the launch of a consultation that will consider allowing exploration wells to be drilled under permitted development (i.e. without the requirement of a planning application) and consult on the inclusion of shale production projects into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime.
Commenting Stephen Bowler, CEO, said:
“This is a significant joint statement from Government and we welcome the Government’s commitment to pursue safe, secure and affordable supplies of energy.
Gas is used to heat over 80% of homes and by over 60% of the UK’s population for cooking. Whilst renewable sources of energy are increasingly producing a greater share of our electricity, gas still provides nearly half.
We currently import 50% of our gas requirement at a significant financial cost to the UK taxpayer -over £13 million a day – and that figure is set to rise to almost 80% by 2035.
Gas has a key role to play to ensure our future energy supply is secure, affordable and as low carbon as is economically possible.”
My Rt. Hon. Friend James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and I wish to reiterate the Government’s view that there are potentially substantial benefits from the safe and sustainable exploration and development of our onshore shale gas resources and to set out in this statement to Parliament the actions we are taking to support our position. This joint statement should be considered in planning decisions and plan-making in England.
The UK must have safe, secure and affordable supplies of energy with carbon emissions levels that are consistent with the carbon budgets defined in our Climate Change Act and our international obligations. We believe that gas has a key part to play in meeting these objectives both currently and in the future. In part as a result of the UK’s diverse range of energy sources, which include natural gas, we have had competitively-priced energy since 1990 whilst reducing carbon emissions across the economy by 49% – a leading performance among developed nations. Gas still makes up around a third of our current energy usage and every scenario proposed by the Committee on Climate Change setting out how the UK could meet its legally-binding 2050 emissions reduction target includes demand for natural gas. As set out in the Clean Growth Strategy, innovations in technologies such as Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) have the potential to decarbonise this energy supply still further and prolong its role in our energy mix.
However, despite the welcome improvements in efficiency and innovation from companies operating in the North Sea, the ongoing decline in our offshore gas production has meant that the UK has gone from being a net exporter of gas in 2003 to importing over half (53%) of gas supplies in 2017 and estimates suggest we could be importing 72% of our gas by 2030. Our current import mix, via pipelines from Norway and Continental Europe and LNG terminals that can source gas from around the world, provides us with stable and secure supplies. However, we believe that it is right to utilise our domestic gas resources to the maximum extent and exploring further the potential for onshore gas production from shale rock formations in the UK, where it is economically efficient, and where environment impacts are robustly regulated.
We also believe that further development of onshore gas resources has the potential to deliver substantial economic benefits to the UK economy and for local communities where supplies are located by creating thousands of new jobs directly in extraction, local support services, and the rest of the supply chain. A potential new shale gas exploration and production sector in the shale basins of England could provide a new economic driver. We also see an opportunity to work with industry on innovation to create a “UK Model” – the world’s most environmentally robust onshore shale gas sector – and to explore export opportunities from this model, a core theme of our modern industrial strategy.
But to achieve these benefits, we need to work with responsible companies prepared to invest in this industry as they proceed with the exploration process, to test the size and value of the potential reserves and to ensure that our planning and regulatory systems work appropriately whilst assisting local councils in making informed and appropriate planning decisions. So we are setting out a series of actions, including those committed to in the Government’s 2017 manifesto to support the development of shale gas extraction.
The UK has world class regulation to ensure that shale exploration can happen safely, respecting local communities and safeguarding the environment. The development of the shale gas industry so far has already led to millions of pounds being invested in the UK, supporting businesses and the supply chain, and creating British jobs. We have recently seen four planning approvals for exploratory shale development. The Government remains fully committed to making planning decisions faster and fairer for all those affected by new development, and to ensure that local communities are fully involved in planning decisions that affect them. These are long standing principles. No one benefits from the uncertainty caused by delay which is why, in September 2015, Government set out a range of measures to help ensure every planning application or appeal was dealt with as quickly as possible.
However, recent decisions on shale exploration planning applications remain disappointingly slow against a statutory time frame of 16 weeks where an Environmental Impact Assessment is required. So, we are announcing a range of measures to facilitate timely decisions. These measures only apply in England.
Planning policy and guidance
This Statement is a material consideration in plan-making and decision-taking, alongside relevant policies of the existing National Planning Policy Framework (2012), in particular those on mineral planning (including conventional and unconventional hydrocarbons).
Shale gas development is of national importance. The Government expects Mineral Planning Authorities to give great weight to the benefits of mineral extraction, including to the economy. This includes shale gas exploration and extraction. Mineral Plans should reflect that minerals resources can only be worked where they are found, and applications must be assessed on a site by site basis and having regard to their context. Plans should not set restrictions or thresholds across their plan area that limit shale development without proper justification. We expect Mineral Planning Authorities to recognise the fact that Parliament has set out in statute the relevant definitions of hydrocarbon, natural gas and associated hydraulic fracturing. In addition, these matters are described in Planning Practice Guidance, which Plans must have due regard to. Consistent with this Planning Practice Guidance, policies should avoid undue sterilisation of mineral resources (including shale gas).
The Government has consulted on a draft revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The consultation closed on 10 May 2018. In due course the revised National Planning Policy Framework will sit alongside the Written Ministerial Statement.
We intend to publish revised planning practice guidance on shale development once the revised National Planning Policy Framework has been launched ensuring clarity on issues such as cumulative impact, local plan making and confirmation that planners can rely on the advice of regulatory experts.
Planning decision making
To support a decision-making regime that meets the future needs of the sector we will progress our manifesto commitments by:
- holding an early stage consultation, in summer 2018, on the principle of whether non-hydraulic fracturing shale exploration development should be treated as permitted development, and in particular on the circumstances in which this might be appropriate.
- consulting, in summer 2018, on the criteria required to trigger the inclusion of shale production projects into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime.
Further, we will strengthen community engagement by consulting in due course on the potential to make pre-application consultation a statutory requirement.
Support for those involved in decision making
We are aware that the shale applications and the planning process can be complex for local authorities. Building capacity and capability within local authorities to deal with shale development is a vital step towards speeding up decision making. We will help achieve this by announcing, today:
- the launch of a new £1.6 million shale support fund over the next two years to build capacity and capability in local authorities dealing with shale applications.
- the creation of a new planning brokerage service for shale applications to provide guidance to developers and local authorities on the planning process to help facilitate timely decision making. The service would focus exclusively on the planning process and will have no role in the consideration or determination of planning applications. The service will not comment on the merits of a case and will also have no role in the appeals process.
In addition, the Government recognises that early engagement with local authorities, including capitalising on formal pre-application discussions, is critical in building confidence in decision making and securing support for development proposals and set realistic timeframes for decisions. We expect this to be formalised by a Planning Performance Agreement providing certainty for all parties. And we then expect all parties – including decision-makers in local authorities – to stick to the timetable.
Opportunities for Redress
While we are confident that the measures announced in this Written Ministerial Statement will speed up decision making on shale applications, we cannot be complacent. Therefore:
- we will continue to treat appeals against any refusal of planning permission for exploring and developing shale gas, or against any non-determination as a priority for urgent determination by the Planning Inspectorate, making additional resources available where necessary.
- under the Written Ministerial Statement in 2015 the criteria for recovering planning appeals were amended to include proposals for exploring and developing shale gas. This was applied for a two-year period subject to further review. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has conducted a review and remains committed to scrutinising appeals for these proposals. We are therefore announcing that the criteria for considering the recovery of planning appeals are continued for a further two years. The new criterion is added to the recovery policy of 30 June 2008, Official Report, column 43WS.
- the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government will actively consider calling in shale applications particularly where statutory deadlines have been exceeded. Each case will be considered on its facts in line with his policy. Priority timeframes for urgent determination will be given to any called-in applications.
- the Government continues to commit to identifying underperforming local planning authorities that repeatedly fail to determine oil and gas applications within statutory timeframes. When any future applications are made to underperforming authorities, the Secretary of State will consider whether he should determine the application instead.
The UK regulatory regime for shale gas is considered among the most robust and stringent in the world. However, we acknowledge that it is also complex, with three regulators, the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and the Oil and Gas Authority, all with responsibilities for regulation. It is not always transparent to both the public and industry who is responsible for what. Therefore, the Government is setting up a Shale Environmental Regulator which will bring the regulators together to act as one coherent single face for the public, mineral planning authorities and industry. We intend to establish the regulator from the summer.
We anticipate that the plans for the Shale Environmental Regulator and future consultations will only apply in England.
We strongly believe that communities hosting shale gas developments should share in the financial returns they generate. The Government welcomes the shale gas companies’ commitment to make set payments to these communities, which could be worth up to £10m for a typical site. Actions to support local communities are an important complement to the planning actions set out above. With that in mind, we want to go further, and we will work with industry to see how we can improve this offer.
In addition to this offer we also announced in the Autumn Statement 2016 that the Shale Wealth Fund will provide additional resources to local communities, over and above industry schemes and other sources of government funding. Local communities will benefit first and determine how the money is spent in their area.
Not much more to say on this. But having got a copy of Eric’s fantastic aerial shot we could not resist posting it here. From the image you can clearly see how this thing works, boring a large diameter hole as it does to take the conductor.
Pictured today at Tinker Lane the Liebherr LB-16 auger drilling rig operated by PR Marriott Drilling. The rig, believed fully extended height 18 metres, seen here poised for action as Marriotts make preparations to begin drilling the borehole that will take the conductor pipe.
IGas advise that the second rig, delivered today from Marriotts did not conform to the Traffic Management Plan at the request of Nottinghamshire police.
We now fully expect a third rig to be dropped in from the heavens to further confuse. Eric Walton’s rather excellent images of the first delivery from Marriotts, photographed last evening, are in the gallery.
IGas advised us this morning that the conductor drilling rig has arrived on site. Photo shows equipment parked up on site today. We are told that the rig and associated equipment will now be set up and it is expected that the installation of the conductor will commence at some point later in the week.
Rather more equipment than we perhaps expected was delivered but if Marriotts have the contract for the conductor installation we might expect that they are also in line for the main drilling contract, no great surprise.
It certainly looks as though Tinker Lane might now take the lead and spud before Springs Road. Interestingly a hobby (bird) was spotted by an intrepid bird watcher this morning in the copse at the rear of the compound!
We were told at the last CLG that the site construction was almost complete. Another great image from Eric Walton taken on 12th May certainly confirms just that. Likely that the drilling of the conductor, the conductor pipework already being on site, will start perhaps this coming week.
With IGas announcing that construction is now largely complete at Tinker Lane and Springs road and expect that drilling will start (spud) in mid 2018 we are left wondering which drill rig we are likely to see at Tinker Lane.
The Tinker lane CLG were told that the choice of rig is down to Marriott HH220 or DrillTec VDD 370. Not a lot to choose between them and for rubber neckers they are 31 metres and 32 metres high respectively. Now my money is on the Marriott HH220 for two reasons. The HH220 has been used by IGas before at Barton Moss, Marriotts were also chosen for Daneshill (Rig 16). INEOS, IGas partners are also very close to Marriotts, they store equipment at the Chesterfield depot. Word from the front line suggests that Marriott’s have delivered drill pipe to Tinker Lane recently so all indications and our money is on the HH220. We are advised that the conductor will needs be drilled and fitted before the main rig arrives, likely to be imminent.
IGas announced yesterday that it was divesting itself of a number of “non-core assets”. Principally
oilfields in the East Midlands and Southern England but also an interest in Scotland. Of particular interest in the East Midlands licence area ML3 Egmanton oilfield, ML6 Bothamsall oilfield (Bothamsall14 pictured above) and ML7 South Leverton. Interesting expression “non core” as we might normally associate the extraction from conventional onshore assets as a core activity for IGas the biggest onshore operator. The assets were in the main acquired from BP and are all rather long in the tooth with one imagines dwindling reserves and limited prospect. IGas will retain the Beckingham and Gainsborough oil/gas wells all of which are interconnected by pipeline back to the oil depot Gainsborough 5. Also keeping Glentworth, Cold Hanworth and Scampton interests. Presumably the new operator will use the existing facilities at Gainsborough 5 or Welton using tanker collections much as currently.
The IGas statement contains: “As we continue to identify and evaluate the future potential of our existing producing assets, we have agreed to divest certain non-core assets representing c.100 boepd [barrels of oil equivalent per day] to Onshore Petroleum Limited (OPL).
“A Sale and Purchase Agreement has been signed for a consideration of £3.14 million, which will be satisfied by the provision of oil field services to IGas by OPL.”
This might be interpreted as a further reference to the previous post and paper “Unconventional petroleum potential of the Gainsborough Trough, East Midlands, United Kingdom” and an indication of where IGas will now concentrate its efforts.
There is an interesting paper, published earlier this year, co-written by Professor Alastair Fraser of Imperial College and Kate Parkin IGas Geologist entitled “Unconventional Petroleum Potential of the Gainsborough Trough, East Midlands, United Kingdom”. The CLG were given a well received talk by Kate Parkin last year on the geology of the area around Tinker Lane. Alastair Fraser in his early days with BP was responsible for much of the 2D seismic that IGas are relying upon in their investigations in North Nottinghamshire. BP also drilled/owned the oilwells in the Gainsborough Trough now owned by Island Gas/IGas. A photo of a workover rig at Beckingham 25 oilwell, situated on the Gainsborough Trough, taken in April 2018 is shown above.
The paper is about estimating an unconventional oil and gas potential of the Gainsborough Trough. A lot of heavy reading. In a nutshell the paper suggests there is significant potential for unconventional hydrocarbons in the Gainsborough Trough shale layer below the existing conventional oil and gas reserves/wells. The paper concludes that there is a need for core samples and an understanding of the fracture characteristics of the shale. Something to watch out for in the future perhaps.
The aerial image taken by Eric Walton shows the site as of 2nd May. The construction work is proceeding at a pace with the aggregate now laid over the membrane across the wellpad. Concrete has been cast around the cellar and a concrete pad has recently been laid around it to accommodate the drilling rig. IGas have given us an estimate of 3 weeks or so to completion of the construction phase. Also pictured above is the well cellar at Misson Springs which shows clearly the small square at the back of the cellar which will we are told accommodate the well head. We have been advised that the next significant move at Tinker Lane will be the installation of the conductor. The conductor is drilled through to bedrock to seal off surrounding soil/clay from the well. Once into bedrock the main well borehole will be drilled down the centre. The conductor is installed using a standard lorry mounted water borehole drilling rig much as was seen at Tinker Lane for the installation of water monitoring boreholes earlier in the project.
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee questions industry representatives today (30th April 16.00 hrs) and anti-fracking campaign groups as part of the inquiry into planning guidance on fracking.
The session is the first in the inquiry, which is examining whether guidance for local authorities taking planning decisions on fracking applications needs to be updated or improved.
As well as focusing on whether current guidance is adequate, the inquiry is looking at whether there should be a comprehensive document bringing all existing guidance together and whether applications should be determined at a national level rather than locally.
The construction work is moving apace at Tinker Lane. The cellar is now installed below ground level and the pad is largely laid out with membrane and aggregate overlay. These comments from observation of Eric Waltons excellent aerial images from FFTL Facebook (view here) and not from IGas. The CLG will meet later this month when hopefully we will get some official comment from IGas on the programme. The conditions deal with the final selection of the drill rig and the choice is apparently between Drilltec VDD-370 35 metres height and Marriott HH-220 30 metres height at maximum extensions. The bundle of submitted documentation relating to the conditions above is attached to this post and has been received by local parish councils for comments. Condition 8 deals with the selection of the drill rig and gives the dimensions of the drill rigs etc. Condition 22 deals with the noise emission from the rigs at the receptors. Condition 33 deals with the dimensions/capacity of a water attenuation tank. A letter of application as made by IGas to NCC is also attached. If you have comments that you would like to make please contact your parish council, Sutton cum Lound Parish Council email contact detail here email@example.com. The consultation period runs from 20th April 2018 for 14 days.
Image captured today courtesy, Facebook, Frack Free Tinker Lane, Jon Ashton post. Shows the cellar arriving at Tinker Lane.
Aerial photography courtesy of Eric Walton. Shows work in progess on pad, laying membrane and hardcore overlay.
Construction work has started in earnest at Tinker Lane. Large earthmoving equipment is building the bund and deliveries to site have ramped up. The images attached were taken on Monday 19th February. An enhanced police presence was noted during the day and a 30 mph restriction applied to the stretch of road in the vicinity.
IGas advise that in the coming weeks they will commence work on the civils requirements (drainage, haul road, surface preparation, etc.). They confirm that there will be no impact on traffic using the A634 as the site entrance and airlock have been completed. The adjacent layby, LHS heading towards Blyth will remain closed.
The CLG will meet next Thursday 22nd February and the site will be updated with more updates on site activity as appropriate.
IGas announce that Misson Springs will be drilled before Tinker Lane in their Operational and Trading Update.
Operational Highlights: Site construction is ongoing at our sites in North Nottinghamshire, Springs Road and Tinker Lane. It is the Company’s intention to drill the Springs Road well first. We expect to spud Springs Road mid-2018.
IGas (Dart Energy Eastern) have advised us this morning that drilling of the water monitoring boreholes will be undertaken and completed this week.
Work around the entrance to the site is now complete and a further days work is required to “finish” the layby. The temporary traffic lights will then be removed “for the foreseeable future”.
If you have any questions then please contact us through the contact form on this website and we will address questions on your behalf to IGas.
Contractors have been working on the site entrance, hardcore delivered and site security cabins moved since our last update. As of 26th November the layby immediately adjacent to the site is closed and traffic lights to establish a single lane on the A634 in abeyance but we might expect some further disruption this week. IGas tell us that they expect to start work on the site construction soon.
The Parish Councils have recently been commenting on the proposals submitted by IGas with regard to discharge of planning conditions as imposed by Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC). This activity is mentioned in the update email received from IGas by the CLG today. The email reads on behalf of the developer Dart Energy/IGas and updates the CLG on the activities as they unfold at Tinker Lane.
Discharging of Planning Conditions:
We have now submitted the last of the discharge documents to Nottinghamshire County Council. They can be found at the bottom of the “documents” tab here: http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/planningsearch/plandisp.aspx?AppNo=ES/3524
The guideline turnaround time for these is usually 28 though it could be less or, equally, it could be more. IGas will keep the CLG updated on progress.
As some of you are aware, we requested a non-material amendment to the planning permission that relates to the closure of the layby near the site. This has now been accepted and the result is that the layby should now only be closed during the construction, drilling and restoration phases with the plan now being that it will be open during the evaluation stage. This should dramatically reduce the length of time it is closed.
With regards to the site, the crops were taken in about two weeks ago by the farmer with the areas of the field not under our planning permission being put back into work.
We’ve pegged out some site boundaries and begun some very initial site investigations to inform the final design of the well pad. Some additional and related work will evident in the coming weeks including a tidy up of the site entrance. These activities require some small machinery (a bobcat and a tractor mounted drill) but it should be noted that neither represents the commencement of site construction. An image of the site taken this week showing some of the marker posts at the site is shown.
NCC are in receipt of IGas Energy Plc proposals for the discharge of conditions that surround the application to drill the exploratory borehole at Tinker Lane. The information was sent originally to Torworth and Barnby Moor Parish Councils for comment. NCC request that responses are made within 14 days of the original date of the email notification of 9th August, hence before 23rd August.
The proposals are as follows:
Please respond directly by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
IGas have made formal application to Nottinghamshire County Council to arrange for the closure of the only North West bound layby on the A634 during the development at Tinker Lane.
In the three weeks since the CLG site visit on 3rd July and indeed an earlier look see over the fence there is little change on site. The conductors are shown in the … [Read More...]
The National Grid has just released its annual review “Future Energy Scenarios” which makes for interesting if heavy reading. In its review it is clear that natural … [Read More...]
As we have got closer to seeing the start of drilling at Tinker lane the Community Liaison Group (CLG) have been receiving more questions from local folk as to what … [Read More...]
The Community Liaison Group visited Tinker Lane this morning. The site construction phase is now complete, conductors have been drilled, the conductor nearest to … [Read More...]
MP for North East Derbyshire, Lee Rowley, is to chair an All Party Parliamentary Group on Shale Gas and how the extraction process might impact on former underground … [Read More...]