KM8 consultation – Round 2

POSTER - Keep Ryedale Rural - no frackingWhy is there a ‘Round 2’ of consultations on KM8?

The North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) Planning Officer wrote to Third Energy on 11th October asking for further information on a wide range of issues, including traffic, ecology, water, timings, noise and air quality. This was responded to by Third Energy, and their responses have been put out for a 21-day public consultation, which is what this webpage is all about.

What did the NYCC ask for, and what was Third Energy’s response?

You can read a summary of the issues raised in the NYCC letter, and Third Energy’s responses on this page: KM8- NYCC’s further information request. You can also download the original letter from the Council and Third Energy’s response if you fancy a good bedtime read.

Were the NYCC impressed with Third Energy’s responses to their queries?

It doesn’t appear so. In fact, they wrote Third Energy another letter on 17th November, saying that they still have a large number of areas that they require further information on. They also stated that they do not expect any decision to be made now until February 2016 at the earliest.
You can read a summary of what the NYCC letter contained on Drill or Drop, or you can also download a copy of the letter by clicking on the link below:
151117_NY20150233ENV_extension_of_time_request_ltr_FINAL_unsigned

10380311_10153157961381186_7353841016130655281_n[1]OK, just give me the headlines.

NOISE: Third Energy are now proposing an alternative noise attenuation barrier called an Echo Barrier, but just submitted the manufacturer’s leaflet without any analysis of how this might work in the location of KM8. We still don’t know what system they want to use.

LIGHTING: A lack of information in the lighting impact assessment was noted.

TRAFFIC: It appears Third Energy did a traffic survey on March 10th 2015 – before the nearby Flamingo Land opens and avoiding school holiday times. Their idea was that they would do the frack in March 2016, but the NYCC pointed out that the traffic survey needs to relevant for other times of the year too as they can’t guaranteed when the work will take pace. There were other deficiencies in the Traffic Survey, including no information on mitigation for other road users, issues about ‘operational times’, a lack of alternative routes – the list goes on. So it looks like Third Energy will have to re-do the traffic survey from scratch.

BRIDGE: The bridge over Costa Beck is a Grade II listed structure, but there has been no assessment of how the HGV traffic – or the fracking itself – might impact on this bridge (and also other old buildings nearby – called in planning-speak ‘non-designated heritage assets’). Third Energy have now agreed to do surveys on both, it seems.

PROPOSED HOURS FOR FRACKING: The NYCC said that just saying they will do this in ‘daylight hours’ is imprecise and they need to be more specific.

WATER: There is confusion about how the pipeline is to be used and whether they would need to ‘purge’ or ‘flush through’ the pipeline at certain times.

Brawby Barn Owl --©Karen GarrettLANDSCAPE: The application seems to say all the shipping containers would be painted green, but now Third Energy say they are all going to be different colours. But they say earlier that they might be using a different noise attenuation barrier instead of the containers anyway. All very confusing …

WILDLIFE: There are lots of issues here, specifically that the assessment of protected species (owls, bats, otters, great crested newts) is insufficient. If you want to find out more, please see the letter that the Friends of the Earth lawyer sent to the NYCC on behalf of FFR, which you can read by clicking on the link below:
151103_NY20150233ENV_eMail_from_FOE_legal_adviser

LEGAL AGREEMENT: This relates to the payment (some might call it a bribe) of £100,000 to local villages in exchange for allowing fracking on their doorstep. We’ve never really understood how this would work, and nor it seems do Third Energy.

Sounds like Third Energy are being a bit evasive when answering the Council’s queries.

You might say that, we couldn’t possibly comment.

So how can I object to the current consultation material?

Emails should be sent to: km8application@northyorks.gov.uk
Please put the application number in the subject line: NY/2015/0233/ENV
You can write your objection in the body of the email, or attach it as a Word Document.
You can also object by post. Please send your letter to: Vicky Perkin, Planning Services, County Hall, Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8AH.
Please put the application number in body of the letter: NY/2015/0233/ENV

IMPORTANT – You must include your full name and postal address.
Objections without a postal address will not be considered.

Please ask for your comments to be included on the County Council Planning Register at the beginning or end of your objection.

What’s the deadline for this objection?

The deadline has passed, but the Planning Committee is still obliged to acknowledge and take into account all objections and comments up until at least a week before the decision. Now that this has been postponed till at least February, you can still respond to this consultation.

11813324_879164612168629_3517059492379632931_n[1]I’ve already objected to the original planning application. Am I allowed to object again to the new consultation material?

Yes, you can. Please mention that you have already objected and say that this is an objection to the additional information provided by Third Energy.

If you haven’t already objected, you might want to look at our KM8 objection page first for some guidelines and additional background – or just keep reading this page and go with what’s here.

What are the key points to include in this new objection?

As with any objection, you can begin by saying who you are and your connection to the application. (For more information, go to the original KM8 objection page and scroll down to the ‘What can I say at the beginning of my objection?’ section.)

Then you can make some or all of the following points. As always, please put them in your own words and personalise your objection wherever possible. You don’t have to include all the sections, and you can just pick the ones you are particularly interested in if you’re short of time (or just a bit lazy). If you live near the well-site, please personalise this as much as possible to show how these problems might affect your daily life.

Traffic

  • It is clear from the NYCC’s comments in both letters that the applicant’s Traffic Survey is inadequate in many respects. For example:
  • Third Energy’s original traffic survey was conducted on one day in March, which does not take into account the huge increase in traffic to and from the nearby Flamingo Land resort.
  • There is never a guarantee that work can take place in a particular month and a traffic survey must cover possible work throughout the whole year.
  • North Yorkshire Police have requested that HGV site traffic is restricted to operating Monday to Thursday, 9:00am and 4:00pm only, but Third Energy have not addressed this in their Traffic Management Plan.
  • Furthermore, allowing HGV trucks after 3.00 pm will endanger primary school children on their way home from school and there should be no traffic to the well allowed during ‘school runs’.
  • The Kirby Misperton Road – Main Street roundabout junction was not included in the assessment, but is a key potential problem area, particularly for large loads.
  • There is a lack of detailed route information, in particular how traffic arrives on the A169 (from which all traffic would turn off towards Kirby Misperton).
  • The A170, which goes through Pickering, is unsuitable for large numbers of HGV movements, particularly during tourist season, as it’s a single carriageway winding through villages and towns such as Helmsley and Kirkbymoorside.
  • The alternative route, the A64 is heavily congested even outside peak and holiday periods. Tourists use the A64 a lot to travel into Ryedale, the North York Moors National Park and the coast, and hundreds of HGV movements would make the area less attractive to visiting tourists.
  • As the work may well coincide with the tourist season, the HGV traffic would be travelling on the main road to Flamingo Land, and my have a negative impact on tourists numbers and perception of the area.
  • Flamingo Land have already objected to the application on the basis that any further increase of fracking at the site – which would be inevitable if the test fracks are successful – would negatively impact on their business.
  • It is clear that a new and extensive traffic survey must be undertaken, taking into account all the above factors.

Noise

  • Third Energy do not seem to have decided which noise attenuation barrier they are planning to use. Neither the effectiveness of the shipping containers or the Echo Barrier have been assessed effectively.
  • MAS Environmental, the noise consultants hired by Frack Free Ryedale, have concluded that the noise levels proposed would be unacceptable to local residents, many of whom live within half a mile of the well-site.
  • The fact that the background noise levels at this rural location are extremely low have not been taken into account.
  • There is a semi-permanent caravan site only a few hundred metres from the well-site. Caravans would have much lower soundproofing than the average home, but this has not been taken into account by the applicant in their noise assessment.

Wildlife and Species Protection

  • The applicant’s ecology survey was conducted on a single day in the middle of winter, when much of the wildlife was hibernating, and did not take into account the local populations of many protected species. This is clearly insufficient and a full survey needs to be undertaken at a time when all protected species are active.
  • There are known to be a large number of Bats in the area, but there has been no survey of bat populations in the area near the well-site, which is a legal requirement.
  • Third Energy are proposing to monitor bat populations after planning permission is granted, which is unlawful. There must be a full impact survey on these protected species before the application is considered, not after permission has been granted.
  • A full and complete survey of bat populations should be carried out at a time when the bats are active before planning permission is considered.
  • There are Barn Owls at Alma Farm, very near the well-site, who would be adversely affected by the noise, light and disturbance of fracking, particularly at night.
  • Work such as fracking, which is noisy and intrusive, should not take place during nesting season of owls and other birds.
  • Otters have been sighted within 1 mile of the site, and would be affected by the vibration and noise of the work, and also possible water pollution.
  • There’s been no assessment of the potential impact of fracking on otter populations in Third Energy’s environmental statement.
  • Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have commented that there might be Great Crested Newts in the ponds near the well-site.
  • The impact of fracking on Great Crested Newts has not been assessed in the applicant’s impact assessment.
  • All the above are protected species and as such a full survey and impact assessment on the ecology of the area needs to be carried out (ideally during the summer, when all the species are active) before planning permission is even considered.

River Derwent SAC (Special Area of Conservation)

  • There is a considerable risk of pollution incidents, given the small site, large amounts of equipment/plant required and the adjacent Sugar Hill Drain which provides a surface water pathway to Costa Beck and then to the River Derwent.
  • The Environmental Statement does not assess the potential impact on this protected area in sufficient detail, and the River Derwent is a SAC (Special Area of Conservation) protected under European Law.
  • In particular, the impact on species for which the SAC is designated – namely lamprey and otters – is insufficient as the pollution could affect fish stocks, which could in turn affect otter populations.
  • A Habitat Regulations Impact assessment of the waterways that connect with the SAC is required under European Law, but has not been undertaken.
  • The Ellers Wood SAC and Sand Dale SAC were omitted from the applicant’s assessment, yet the River Derwent SAC and the North York Moors SAC and SPA were included, but are located further away from the site.
  • The site is also close to other protected areas, such as the Amotherby Ings SSSI, and this also needs to be taken into account.

Landscape, listed buildings and footpaths

  • The development will involve a 37m high rig and 60m crane. These will be brightly lit so will be an eyesore on the landscape and cause considerable light pollution.
  • These structures will also be visible from the Howardian Hills AONB and the North York Moors National Park.
  • The recommendation that the footpath that runs next to the well-site should be closed is unacceptable. All footpaths should be kept open for local residents.
  • The effect of HGV traffic on the Grade II listed Costa Beck Bridge has not been assessed. This heavy traffic, and in particular abnormal loads, may well result in damage to the bridge.
  • The potential impact of vibration or tremors on other old buildings in the area, particularly the church at Kirby Misperton (Grade II*) has not been assessed.
  • According to the National Planning Policy Framework, Section 12, Para 132: “As heritage assets are irreplaceable, any harm or loss should require clear and convincing justification. Substantial harm to or loss of a grade II listed building, park or garden should be exceptional. Substantial harm to or loss of designated heritage assets of the highest significance, notably scheduled monuments, protected wreck sites, battlefields, grade I and II* listed buildings, grade I and II* registered parks and gardens, and World Heritage Sites, should be wholly exceptional.”  The development at KM8 cannot be classified as ‘wholly exceptional’ and so should be refused.

Production

  • The application currently includes a nine-year production phase, and Third Energy’s claim that ‘this is not relevant to the application’ is incorrect. This production phase is, in fact, a central feature of the application, and if Third Energy do not feel it is relevant, they should remove it from the application.
  • There is no way that Third Energy would be able to produce gas from a single fracking operation for that length of time. Production from a fracked well (including a lateral section) declines on average by 75% after one year, meaning that nine years’ production is almost impossible. The amount produced from KM8, which is just a vertical well, is likely to be even less.
  • The application for nine years’ production is therefore clearly an attempt to allow further fracking at the site.
  • The government’s Gas and Oil Field Development Policy clearly states that operations should be split into three distinct stages – Appraisal, Testing and Production. This application is essentially for a Test phase, and so the Production phase should be removed from this application.
  • If the application (and the test-frack) is successful, the applicant should therefore have to re-apply for Production at a future date.

Water and air monitoring

  • The Infrastructure Act, section 50, 4A (5) states that “The level of methane in groundwater has, or will have, been monitored in the period of 12 months before the associated hydraulic fracturing begins.” This law was enacted on 12th February 2015 and so governs this application.
  • Third Energy has not monitored the level of methane in groundwater for the required 12-month period. Therefore this application is in contravention of the terms of the Infrastructure Act and if it were to be approved, would be subject to a likely legal challenge.
  • The application should therefore be refused or deferred until such time as the Applicant can provide the necessary data regarding water monitoring of methane, as required by law.
  • AQC, the air quality consultants employed by Frack Free Ryedale, have concluded that the air pollution figures will exceed acceptable limits and have serious concerns about many aspects of the application, as you will see in their objection.
  • Third Energy’s suggestions of using a ‘sniff-test’ to detect air pollution and odours is laughable and not based in science.

Summary of material required to be produced by Third Energy

Before this application can be considered, the applicant must complete the following surveys and monitoring regimes:

  • A new traffic survey, taking into account the comments from the North Yorkshire Police regarding operating times, the effect of holiday and Flamingo Land traffic, the proposed route, and other significant considerations highlighted by the NYCC. This survey should be undertaken in the summer, when the traffic levels include tourist traffic and Flamingo Land is open.
  • A full and independent Habitats Regulations Assessment, taking into account the confirmed local populations of protected species such as bats, owls, otters and newts. This survey should be undertaken in the late spring or summer, when all species are active.
  • An assessment of the water pollution risks to the Derwent SAC is also required under European law, particularly in relation to protected species (otter and lamprey).
  • A survey of the effect of the development on the Grade II Listed Costa Beck Bridge, the Grade II listed Kirby Misperton Church, and other non-designated heritage sites.
  • 12 months monitoring of methane levels in groundwater, as required under the terms of the Infrastructure Act before fracking can take place.
  • A Quality Assessment of the effect of the proposed work on air quality within the designated ecological zones within 10km of the site is required.
  • Assessment of the effectiveness of the noise attenuation barrier options must be provided.

Until these surveys and assessments have been conducted and assessed, the NYCC has no choice but to refuse or defer the application.

And finally …

Please feel free to add any further comments or objections relating to fracking, e.g. health issues, the industrialisation of the countryside, the effect on tourism and agriculture, the fact this application does not create a single new job, the strong opposition to fracking within North Yorkshire … the list goes on.

You can take a look at our original KM8 objection page for more ideas, or go to our Frack Free Ryedale objection page to see what the independent consultants we hired said about the application.

Oh, and when you’re done, don’t forget to send in your objection!

Frack Free Ryedale - fighting fracking one cake at a time

FFR – fighting fracking one cupcake at a time!