IGas Energy submit new request for alternative site for exploratory shale gas drilling

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A new scoping request has been submitted by IGas Energy Plc to Notts County Council for an alternative site for exploratory shale gas drilling.

The alternative site is located off Springs Road, to the north-east of Misson in Bassetlaw and is close to the Nottinghamshire and Doncaster and North Lincolnshire local Government boundary. The new site is approximately 200 metres to the north-east of the previously considered site.

IGas submitted the original scoping request in late January and, following consultation, the county council issued its scoping opinion response in March, setting out the information IGas would need to cover in its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), as part of any future planning application.

The submission of a scoping request is the first step towards preparing an EIA, which would need to be submitted as part of a future planning application to undertake shale gas development in Notts.

IGas Energy has already undertaken limited site investigations, including seismic land survey, at a site to the north-east of Misson in Bassetlaw.

Notts County Council has five-weeks to comment on the new scoping request which sets out the environmental issues IGas Energy consider they need to include as part of any future planning application.

The authority will review the new scoping request to assess the environmental issues the firm intends to highlight in its Environmental Impact Assessment. The county council say it will be looking for IGas Energy to include information about how it will safeguard local water resources and wildlife habitats, ensure safe access to and from the site for vehicles and other highway issues, manage noise from the site and restore the site.

The county council will then inform IGas of its response in a new scoping opinion document.

If the firm decides to submit a planning application, the development will involve exploration of the site using test drilling to check the suitability of the rock for shale gas extraction. No hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ would be undertaken as part of this application.

Sally Gill, planning manager from Notts County Council, said: “IGas Energy has decided that a nearby, alternative site is more suitable than the site they originally requested the scoping opinion on earlier this year. As such, the EIA scoping process is being undertaken for the alternative site. As with the previous scoping request submitted by IGas, it is the first of many steps towards IGas Energy submitting a full planning application for shale gas exploration at this new site.”

“We intend to robustly review the scoping request, to make sure that IGas has made every effort to safeguard the local environment. The detail of our response will inform the basis of the firm’s Environmental Impact Assessment which will be submitted if and when they decide to submit a planning application.”

“If a planning application is submitted for shale gas development in the future, as the local planning authority our role will be to consider how suitable the site is for any shale gas testing, exploration or development. This will involve looking at how the proposals affect a range of issues such as wildlife, transport and water resources.”

“The company will also have to secure approval from a range of other organisations including the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive and the Department of Energy and Climate Change to make sure the site will operate safely.”

“Further separate planning applications would need to be submitted by the firm if they decided to undertake additional investigations at the site, including shale gas appraisal or extraction.”

The county council will consult over 40 organisations including Bassetlaw District Council, Natural England and the Environment Agency in drawing up its scoping opinion.

Members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on any proposal when and if a subsequent planning application is submitted by IGas Energy.