Decision on shale gas wells in Nottinghamshire delayed

A decision on a planning application to drill exploratory shale gas wells on a former Cold War missile launch site in Nottinghamshire has been delayed.

A meeting of the county council’s Planning and Licensing Committee was suspended late yesterday afternoon to allow the committee to obtain legal advice regarding a letter it received from Friends of the Earth.

Announcing the delay, chair of the committee councillor John Wilkinson said: “At 1.30pm today (5 October) officers received a representation from Friends of the Earth. As a result of this representation, on which no view has been taken, I have decided, following consultation with officers, to defer this item.

“This means that our meeting will be adjourned until our meeting on 15 November. On that date, our meeting will commence at the point we now leave it – that is – allowing members to move to debate.”

The application concerns two wells at a site off Springs Road close to the village of Mission. It was submitted by IGas in last October and does not cover the use of hydraulic fracturing. Both wells would initially be drilled vertically. The second would then drilled horizontally as well, heading southwards towards the nearby village.

Friends of the Earth warned the committee against “granting planning permission to IGas to commit unlawful acts”. The campaign group has been acting on behalf of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust which owns the Mission Training Area. The former military bombing range has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, in particular because of the birdlife.

The letter drew attention to a “restrictive” legal covenant from 1969 which, according to another letter to IGas several days earlier, prevents the carrying out of any “noisy, noxious, or offensive trade” which could cause “nuisance, damage or annoyance” to the occupier of the site.

The council’s planning officers published a report last week recommending that the Planning and Licensing Committee approves the application.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid is expected to announce later today whether Cuadrilla will be allowed to drill exploratory wells at two sites between Blackpool and Preston. The company lodged an appeal after its applications were refused by Lancashire County Council last June