At an open public meeting of Bassetlaw District Councils (BDC) Planning Committee, in a decisive vote of 8 to 1 (1 abstention) the Committee decided to object to a planning application for an exploratory borehole near Barnby Moor.
BDC are consultees to Nottinghamshire County Council Minerals Planning Authority who will consider an application from Dart Energy for an exploratory well described by Dart as “Tinker Lane 1”. NCC will meet later in the year to take a decision on Dart’s application after considering the views of all consultees which will include responses from members of the public to the consultation process.
At the Planning meeting of 6th July the Committee heard representations from Torworth Parish Council Chair Christie Willis, Blyth Parish Councilor Peter Thompson and Lound resident Andrew Szcezcinski. District Councilor Michael Gray also spoke against the application.
Of particular cause for concern were the additional traffic movements, both onto and off of the busy A634 at the proposed site and the increase in HGV vehicles serving the site routed through an already congested Blyth village. The route through Blyth has been identified by Dart as the preferred route to the A1 north and south and concerns were also expressed that there had been no contingency planning in the event that the A1 was closed (as had occurred again on 6th July).
Councilor Christie Willis explained that of particular concern for Torworth Parish was the effect that a development of the Tinker Lane site might have on the existing underground workings from Harworth Colliery. These extend in and around Torworth and are notably within one kilometer of Tinker Lane 1. These workings and underground roadways are in a state of collapse and partial collapse and the effect of pressure testing at depth or subsequent under-fracking, inducing a sudden collapse of old workings from transient shock, is of great concern for Torworth residents and indeed other villages in the vicinity.
Councilor Willis also expressed frustration with the manner in which Dart Energy had established a site presence in late October 2016 without planning permission, resulting in complaints from her constituents to BDC requesting enforcement action and the seeming inability or unwillingness of BDC to resolve the matter. The current application to NCC includes a retrospective application for the site presence at Tinker Lane 1.
Later in the meeting BDC Councilor Tracey Taylor raised the issue with the officer present at the meeting and a discussion amongst Councilors and officer ensued. The officer explained that the developer Dart Energy had made use of the planning system effectively stringing the council along until it was no longer expedient for the council to take enforcement action. BDC Councilor Graham Oxby endorsed the explanation given by the officer, concerned that the arrogance displayed by Dart Energy impacted unfairly on the public’s perception of the performance of council. Concerns were also raised that if the developer, Dart Energy was prepared to violate elementary planning rules then there were clear grounds for public mistrust in the company in any future activity at Tinker lane 1.
Members of the Planning Committee voted against the application on the following grounds:
Inadequate information supplied relating to:
Highways through Blyth and include impact of Harworth South
Highway safety A634
Lack of consultation on cycle routes
Absence of 3D seismic testing and existing mining works