The Oil and Gas Industry Want to Drill and Frack Near Your Home

Last year we took part in the consultation on the Joint Minerals and Waste Plan. The Joint Minerals and Waste Plan is the document that is being produced to govern minerals and waste development, including oil and gas drilling and fracking in three local authorities, City of York Council, North Yorkshire County Council and The North York Moors National Park. While anti fracking campaigners and groups took part in the consultation to express their concerns about fracking and suggest ways that the harm from the industry could be minimised, the oil and gas industry took part in the consultation to voice their opposition to the limited restrictions on their ability to drill and frack across Yorkshire that are included in the existing draft of the plan. A number of organisations from the oil and gas industry took part, including oil and gas companies INEOS Upstream, Third Energy and Egdon Resources UK, the consultancy Zetland Group and industry body UKOOG.

The existing draft of the Joint Minerals and Waste Plan included a number of limits on the extent and location of oil and gas development following earlier rounds of consultation. These include a provision that surface hydrocarbon development within 500 metres of residential development will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances. Anti-fracking activists argued that this policy was not strict enough. However the policy go too far for the oil and gas industry which wants the freedom to drill and frack in as many places in Yorkshire as possible.

Egdon Resources (UK) said, “here is no justification for a  separation distance arising from the need to ensure a high level of protection from emissions to air or ground and surface water and induced seismicity. Proximity to residential buildings and other sensitive receptors will have a very little bearing upon the general requirement to mitigate against all forms of emissions and induced seismicity. There is no evidence that proposals for surface hydrocarbon development within 500m of residential buildings and other sensitive receptors are likely to have more adverse impact than proposals in excess of this distance. The effect of screening and the specific nature of the proposed hydrocarbon development can often mean that distances of 300m are permissible.”

INEOS Upstream said, “These requirements are not in accordance with the existing regulatory provisions in place to assess the impact of all types of development proposals on receptors. Hydrocarbon development should be assessed under the same environmental parameters as other developments in terms of noise, transport, landscape and visual impacts etc. The reference in the policy to 500m should be removed and the policies replaced with a simpler policy.”

Third Energy and Zetland Group said, “The reference to a ‘separation distance of 500m’ from residential properties or other sensitive receptors has no justification and does not reflect the experience of recent proposals. Each application needs to be considered on its own merits, with supporting technical information providing the basis for the MPA’s decision.”

These three responses show that the oil and gas industry is determined to drill and frack within just a few hundred metres of people’s homes. This is despite the fact that oil and gas wells and the supporting infrastructure are known sources of air and noise pollution and that each well pad will burden the local area with a significant rise in HGV traffic. When the industry gives presentations on how little impact they will have, you should consider if you would be happy for this new industry to be developed near your home.

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