permission creep – Please object to Third Energy’s flaring plans

K, what’s this one all about?

Third Energy – the company that is planning to frack at their KM8 wellsite in Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire – have applied to the Environment Agency (EA) for a variation on their current permits for their Kirby Misperton A wellsite (where KM8 is located).

So this is about their much-delayed fracking operation at KM8, then?

Not according to Third Energy. On their advertisement on the gov.co.uk website, they say “The application is not related to the activities at the Kirby Misperton 8 site. (EPR/DB3002HE).” (the last number is the permit code for the KM8 EA Permits, in case you were wondering).

However, the permit application form itself, and the Waste Management Plan referenced in the application, state clearly that the application relates to the KMA wellsite – which includes KM8.

The application also states that the new permit is intended to combine the existing permits EPR/DB3002HE and NPSWQD001330.

But isn’t EPR/DB3oo2HE the permit number for KM8?

I’m pleased you are paying attention. Given that the new permit is clearly intended to replace EPR/DB3002HE, it is not correct for Third Energy to say that this application does not relate to future fracking at the KM8 well, which are currently permitted by EPR/DB3002HE.

Sounds like Third Energy are trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Again.

You may say that. I couldn’t possibly comment. However, this could be construed as a deliberate attempt to sneak this permit application under the radar without attracting too much attention, and this may in itself be a reason for the EA to refuse the permit and ask Third Energy to resubmit it with the correct information.

So what is the main issue with this new permit application?

Flaring at the Bakken gas field in the USA. Coming to a tourist destination near you?

In a word – FLARING. This is the practice of burning off excess gas produced by a well, the kind of thing that you can see in the photo on the right. Many people are very concerned about the environmental and health impacts of flaring, which has been under intense scrutiny in the States and is associated with a number of health and community impacts.

What does the new permit application say about flaring?

Third Energy are applying for permission for what they call ‘potential temporary flaring’, which is included in the Waste and Minerals Plan they submitted with the application. This directly contradicts assurances given by Third Energy that there would be no flaring at the well-site. In the EA application for permits for KM8 – EPR/DB3002HE – they even said “the proposed development does not contemplate flaring of natural gas”.

Also, when the application to the North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) for fracking at KM8 was approved despite overwhelming local opposition, Third Energy assured the council that there would be no flaring, and there is even a ‘no flaring’ condition in the KM8 planning consent, which is specifically stated to have been imposed in order to “safeguard the amenity of local residents and the local environment”.

You can read the whole of Third Energy’s application document by clicking here.

So what you’re saying is that Third Energy told the EA and the NYCC that there would be no flaring at the KM8 well-site, and now they have got permission to frack, they are now trying to change the permits to allow flaring?

Exactly. This loosening of permissions appears to be a deliberate tactic of the oil and gas industry. Cuadrilla are at it in Lancashire as well, where they are trying to extend working hours, get a bigger drilling rig and all sorts of other things, as you can read in this Drill or Drop article. We call it Permission Creep.

Catchy name.

We’ll see. Anyway, many people think that Third Energy are trying to pull a fast one and we would like people to write to the Environment Agency to complain, and ask them to reject the application.

When’s the deadline?

This Monday, March 20th – so you have to do this NOW!

How do I respond?

Send an email to this email address, giving your full name and address.
PSCpublicresponse@environment-agency.gov.uk

Also include this reference in the subject line: EPR/EB3909KL001.

Note that all objections are usually placed on the EA website. If you do not want your response to be posted publicly, you need to say so in your objection.

Fancy this happening 400m from your home?

And what can I say in my response?

It’s useful to start by saying a line or two about yourself and why you are concerned. Perhaps you live near the well-site, or you are concerned about the effect that fracking is going to have on North Yorkshire if KM8 is successful (still a big ‘if’, by the way…), the dangers of fracking and flaring as regards climate change, etc..

Then you can make some or all of the following points, in your own words if possible:

  • Third Energy said in their original EA application, and their application to the NYCC, that there would be no flaring at the wellsite. However, in this application they are now asking for permission for flaring. If this was needed, it should have been in the original application.
  • The references to temporary flaring in the proposed new Waste & Minerals Plan are concerning because that the “no flaring” condition in the KM8 planning consent is specifically stated to have been imposed in order to “safeguard the amenity of local residents and the local environment”.
  • If it was seen as necessary to include this condition to protect local residents and the environment then, the EA should reject any attempts to allow flaring at the site.
  • The new Waste and Minerals Plan also classifies any gas that would be flared at the site as ‘hazardous waste’.
  • The Waste and Minerals Plan contains no assessment of how much gas would be flared, or the impact this would have on the local environment, local residents and local amenity in general.
  • Third Energy state in the advertisement for this application that the requested permit change does not relate to KM8. However, it is clear on reading the application this this is incorrect, and the application appears to be trying to pave the way for possible flaring at KM8.
  • The fact that the application attempts to merge two previous permits, one of which was for KM8, makes it clear that Third Energy’s claims this in not related to KM8 is incorrect.
  • Third Energy have not provided enough information about their proposals for on-site flaring at KMA to allow the EA to assess the impact on the local environment or climate change that flaring at the site might have.
  • Planning permission for fracking at KM8, and the accompanying EA permit (EPR/DB3002HE) were issued on the basis that there would be no flaring at the site. If flaring is now allowed to occur, this would completely undermine the environmental impact assessment of fracking at KM8.

You can also ask the EA questions, for example:

Why is Third Energy now contemplating flaring at the KMA wellsite, when they claimed in their application that flaring would not be required?

What assessment, if any, has been made by the EA or Third Energy on the impact of flaring on the local community, the environment and climate change?

Do Third Energy intend to apply for a change to Condition 27 of their Planning Permit from the NYCC, which prohibits flaring at the wellsite?

How can the public trust a company that claims no flaring will take place, and then applies for permission for flaring after planning permission is granted?

Please also ask the EA to reject the application at the end of your letter.

OK, I will do that now. I promise. We can’t let them get away with this, can we?

Good for you. And no, we can’t. See you next time for more planning application shenanigans!