A chemical firm has submitted a full planning application as part of plans to carry out fracking in north east Derbyshire.
Industry giant Ineos has applied to Derbyshire County Council to explore shale gas reserves on an area of privately-owned land off Bramley Moor Lane in Marsh Lane, near Eckington.
The application is the first of its kind in Derbyshire.
The firm has applied for planning permission to erect a drilling rig up to 60 metres tall and drill about 2,400 metres down into the ground to investigate the suitability of the rock for fracking. And subject to the results of these investigations, it is also seeking permission to keep the well open for monitoring purposes.
Mike Ashworth, Derbyshire County Council’s strategic director for economy, transport and communities, said: “This is a planning application to carry out underground investigations – not fracking.
“As with any planning application and in our role as the mineral planning authority, we will carry out detailed consultation work and find out what people think of the proposals. This includes local people and the organisations we have to consult by law.
“We have not received an application to carry out fracking. If and when we do, it would be a separate planning application and subject to a similar but separate detailed consultation with the public and other consultees.”
Campaigners in Marsh Lane have held a number of public meetings on the issue since the start of the year and staged a protest march through the village.
Ineos has held two public exhibitions in the village for people to view the plans.
The firm is one of a number of companies licensed by the Oil and Gas Authority to extract gas from shale deep in the ground by hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ – the process of injecting water and chemicals at high pressure deep underground to create tiny cracks so the gas can flow up a well to the surface and be collected.
The firm’s proposal is to create an exploratory well on the site including use of associated equipment, erecting temporary site cabins and creating car parking and vehicle access for a period of up to five years.
Drilling is proposed to take place for approximately 10 weeks, 24 hours a day. At other times, work would take place between 7am and 7pm, Monday to Friday and 7am and 1pm on Saturdays, with no working on Sundays or Bank holidays.
At its peak during the well and rig installation there would be a maximum of 30 HGV and smaller vehicles visiting the site each day, Ineos says.
The government has been asked to conclude whether the application needs a statutory environmental impact assessment – a formal process to assess in detail the impacts of potential development on the environment when the effects are likely to be significant.
Ineos was advised by the county council in February that its proposal for underground investigations at Marsh Lane did not require an environmental impact assessment.
Mr Ashworth added: “The county council has a legal obligation to decide on planning applications such as mining, underground drilling or fracking in Derbyshire.
“Our planning committee considers each planning application on its individual merits and is impartial. Each planning decision is based on objective analysis of evidence, taking into account local and national planning policies and the relevant comments of the public and official consultees such as parish councils.
“No date has been set for the proposals to be considered by the planning committee but we’re committed to making information available to the public every step of the way throughout the planning process and we’ll keep our website up-to-date with all the latest information – including details of when the planning committee meeting will be held.”
People can view the planning application, find out how to make their views known and how to get involved in the planning process on the council’s website at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/fracking