Controversial plans to carry out fracking tests in north east Derbyshire village rejected

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Derbyshire County Council's planning committee has voted to oppose controversial plans to carry out fracking tests in Marsh Lane, near Eckington.

Planning committee members voted against the proposals to allow oil and chemical firm Ineos to explore for shale gas reserves at the Bramley Moor Lane site at a meeting lasting more than four hours this afternoon at County Hall in Matlock. The committee had been expected to approve the plans.

However, the final decision will be made by the Planning Inspectorate following a public inquiry starting June 19. This is because Ineos appealed saying the county council was taking too long to make a decision - something the authority denied.

Speaking after the meeting, chairman of the Eckington Against Fracking group, David Kesteven, said: "We are absolutely delighted that the council has seen sense to back us. They have stood up for the people in our communities. We now move onto win the public inquiry."

Head of planning services at the county council, David Arnold, started the meeting with a 45-minute presentation outlining the government's position on fracking. He then went on to talk about the main considerations for the Bramley Moor Lane site. Mr Arnold said that potential impacts on greenbelt, landscape, visual, ecology, noise, air quality and traffic had all been taken into account and concluded he was "satisfied" that the proposals would not be "unacceptable".

After a short break, those opposed to the plans put their views to the planning committee.

MP for North East Derbyshire, Lee Rowley, said there was "ample" reasons for the plans to be rejected.

He added: "I hope you reject it and I look forward to seeing you do it. Please reject this application."

Chairman of Eckington Parish Council, Brian Ridgway, said: "The company (Ineos) bring no jobs locally and will contribute nothing to the national coffers.

"The fudge this application has become is shameful.

"If you cannot make a decision to support the people of Derbyshire then you should resign."

North East Derbyshire District Council's Marsh Lane and Ridgeway ward representative, Councillor Michael Gordon, urged the county council to reject the plans, stating the impact of noise levels. He added that the proposals are "not in keeping with the rural area".

Several residents living in Marsh Lane also spoke at the meeting raising concerns about a number of similar issues such as noise, air pollution, traffic congestion and greenbelt land.

There were repeated claims that Ineos statistics relating to noise levels and traffic movements were inaccurate.

Addressing the committee members during the meeting, Mr Kesteven said: "You have a duty of care to these people. You have to look after us. Snowdon Lane is a dangerous road. There was two accidents on the same day last week."

He added: "This meeting has brought a lot of things to light. If there is any doubts over the validity of the planning report you are being asked to endorse then you have to say 'no'."

In total, around 25 people spoke against the plans. Derbyshire County Council had originally stated that no members of the public would be allowed to speak after sending out a letter. However, the council backtracked after coming under-fire.

No one from Ineos spoke at the meeting.

Following another break, a number of planning committee members spoke to say they were against the proposals after hearing what had been said.

The vote was then taken and councillors voted to oppose the proposals by nine votes to one, stating reasons of harm to greenbelt land, traffic and night-time noise.