Plans to carry out fracking in a village in North Derbyshire have edged a step closer.
The Environment Agency has granted a permit to allow chemical firm Ineos to drill an exploratory borehole on privately-owned land at Bramley Moor Lane in Marsh Lane, near Eckington.
The permit allows the company to carry out drilling, waste management and low-risk testing. It does not allow fracking.
A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “Our regulatory controls for onshore oil and gas are in place to protect people and the environment.
“Standard Rules permits are common across industry and maintain high levels of environmental protection.
“They do not allow companies to carry out fracking – this activity requires a bespoke permit application which would be subject to a site-specific environmental risk assessment and extensive public consultation.
“As with all decisions on whether to issue environmental permits, we will assess a company’s proposals to ensure they meet strict requirements. If an activity poses an unacceptable risk to the environment, the activity will not be permitted.”
Derbyshire County Council is currently considering a full planning application from Ineos for the Marsh Lane site.
Responding to the latest development, Tom Pickering, operations director at Ineos, said: “Ineos Shale is pleased about the Environment Agency’s announcement to grant an environmental permit for our plans to drill a vertical coring well at Bramley Moor Lane. This is an important step in the process of gaining all necessary consents required before any drilling can take place.
“As our application progresses through the planning process, I am keen and willing to continue our engagement with the community through a formal community liaison group.”
The proposals have been strongly opposed by residents of the village and surrounding areas.
Campaigners organised a number of public meetings, set-up a Facebook page and also marched through the village in protest when Ineos was holding an exhibition.
David Kesteven, chairman of Eckington Against Fracking said: “We do not want our village turned into a gas field. We will keep fighting.”
View the full planning application on the Derbyshire County Council website using reference: CM4/0517/10