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MP slams decision to approve controversial drilling plans for Derbyshire village

North East Derbyshire MP, Lee Rowley.
North East Derbyshire MP, Lee Rowley.

MP for North East Derbyshire, Lee Rowley, has slammed a decision to approve plans for exploratory drilling in Marsh Lane.

The Planning Inspectorate today granted Ineos permission to drill a vertical hydrocarbon exploratory core well on land off Bramley Moor Lane, Marsh Lane, near Eckington, in order to extract rock samples for testing to see if it is viable to extract gas.

The decision means that fracking could eventually take place depending on the outcome of the testing.

Mr Rowley said “I’m deeply disappointed by this decision. It is clear to me that Bramley Moor Lane remains a totally inappropriate place for either exploratory drilling or fracking and the decision will deeply worry those who live nearby. Quite simply, this decision is wrong.

“We are talking about the industrialisation of our countryside here. The proposals will blight the landscape of the Moss Valley Conservation Area with a drilling rig nearly the height of the Crooked Spire, as well as other bulky equipment.”

An eight-day inquiry was held in Chesterfield in June where inspector Elizabeth Hill heard evidence from Ineos and those campaigning against the proposals, including local group Eckington Against Fracking, who have campaigned for the last 18 months and raised issues such as impact on green belt, highways and noise.

The inquiry was held after Ineos appealed saying Derbyshire County Council was taking too long to make a decision - something the authority denied.

Mr Rowley spoke against the plans at the inquiry along with Eckington Against Fracking.

He added: “I’d like to thank the thousands of people who got involved to oppose the proposals. In particular, a huge debt of gratitude is owed to Eckington Against Fracking and all of the other community groups who have fought tirelessly to stop this application.

“The decision has only just been announced, so we need to think through our options, read through all the decision documents thoroughly and decide where to go next. My message to the community is this: we always knew this would be a long fight and we wouldn’t win every battle. We should be proud of our community for coming together and we will stick together in unity to stop fracking in North East Derbyshire.”

A spokesperson for Ineos said: "Ineos Shale is pleased by today’s decision to approve the application for a test drilling site at Bramley Moor Lane.

“It is disappointing that a planning inquiry was needed for what is a straight-forward project – leading to an unjustifiable waste of public money. The permission allows for the drilling of a single vertical core well to gain scientific knowledge of what is below the surface – as has been agreed by many councils many times in the past to support the coal industry in the region.

"Ineos Shale hopes that this case will set a precedent for timely decisions on future applications based upon the facts. A fully-fledged shale industry can be a huge boost to the UK, providing jobs, investment and secure energy.”

And a spokesperson for Friends of the Earth said: "“This is a bitter disappointment for the local community who have worked so hard to fight this threat, and also Derbyshire County Council who opposed it, but at least local people have had a say.

"The Government’s current outrageous proposals to fast track future shale gas test drills through ‘permitted development’ rules will ride roughshod over local democracy and mean communities will be shut out of participating in decisions like this."

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