This page summarises the problems the NYCC had with Third Energy’s application and the questions that they asked for clarification on (which have gone to public consultation). Third Energy’s response to this is towards the bottom of the page.
Why did the NYCC ask Third Energy for further information relating to their application to frack at Kirby Misperton?
The North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) are entitled to ask Third Energy for more information if they feel that there are aspects of the application that are unclear, contradictory or misleading (or perhaps all three). This information is then put out for a public consultation, which lasts 21 days. They obviously felt that there was a lot of stuff they weren’t happy about as their letter was 11 pages long…
The NYCC requested further information about the alternative noise attenuation system that Third Energy had suggested the might use (this would be instead of the now notorious pile of multi-coloured shipping containers – see cartoon!).
A lack of any environmental assessment of the impact of the fluorescent lighting that will be attached to the rig and cooling tower. The NYCC made the point that the lights may be on as long as sixteen hours during the winter.
Highway and Traffic issues
1) The traffic survey submitted was conducted on 10th March 2015, while the nearby Flamingo Land resort was closed. They argued that this traffic survey was therefore unrepresentative and requested information that would allow the NYCC to assess traffic levels at different times of the year. (It seems that Third Energy were expecting this to happen in March, before Flamingo Land opens for business … if they have to compete with Flamingo Land traffic, it’s a much bigger problem).
2) Problems with traffic going across the small bridge over Costa Beck. The NYCC pointed out that two HGV lorries could not pass each other on this bridge and requested an assessment of the effect this level of traffic would have on the bridge and surrounding area.
3) The lack of any assessment of whether the bridge over Costa Beck would withstand the amount of traffic proposed.
4) There are no contingencies in the Traffic Plan to account for any road closures that may occur in the designated routes.
5) Nothing about the proposed Pickering to Malton Cycle Route, which would use the same road.
6) The Traffic Assessment does not address other users of the public highway including cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians, and also buses, caravans and mobile homes (this being a holiday area).
7) Problems with driving along Kirby Misperton Main Street, e.g. with parked cars, skips, etc.
8) Lack of information about abnormal loads.
1) Lack of clarity regarding any local buildings of heritage value, in particular the fact that Third Energy have failed to identify which local buildings should be assessed in the Heritage Impact Assessment.
2) The bridge that crosses Costa Beck is a Grade II listed structure and the effect of HGVs and abnormal loads on this bridge has not been assessed.
Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation Treatment
1) Lack of clarity regarding what is a ‘main’ hydraulic fracture, and what is a ‘mini’ hydraulic fracture, including what when these would take place during the day, how many there would be, and what would be in the water they used.
2) Lack of information on the environmental impact of the waste water, or ‘flowback fluid’, in particular relating to the level of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM).
3) Lack of clarity about what time of day fracking would take place (the NYCC weren’t happy with the phrase ‘during daylight hours’, as of course this varies hugely depending on when the work would take place).
1) No information was provided regarding the presence of potable water services and location of abstraction points in the vicinity of the site.
2) The pipeline from Kirby Misperton is currently used to send waste water to the KM3 re-injection well. If this is also to be used to bring mains supply water to the site, will it need to be washed or ‘purged’ beforehand? How will this be done? What happens to the produced water in the meantime? So many questions …
3) No contingency for the event of pipeline failure.
4) No information about how much water is needed for the mini-fracks.
5) Lack of clarity about what will happen to the waste water on-site. Basically Third Energy have put in a number of alternatives for what they could do with the waste water – including electro-coagulation, recycling and directing it straight into storage tanks. The NYCC wants them to pick one and assess its impacts.
6) Problems with their calculations about how much waste water there will be, and the fact that they don’t have enough storage tanks on their site plans. Again the need to flush tanks that have been used for waste water is not covered.
So, um, quite a bit then.
Indeed. And the letter also included some comments and questions from key consultees. Here are a few highlights:
Historic England were worried about the effect of vibration on significant Heritage assets such as the Grade II Listed Church at Kirby Misperton, and the Earthworks Monument at Great Barugh. They were also concerned about the effect on ‘undesignated heritage assets’, which are basically old buildings that aren’t classified. An interesting sentence in this section jumped off the page: Third Energy “is required to provide the County Planning Authority with information on how the proposed development protects and enhances the special character and significance of heritage assets.” Er, good luck with that …
Public Health England states that the current Air Quality Monitoring Plan does not deal with the potential impact for local residents, contrary to the advise of Public Health England. They also ask for more information relating to odour/nuisance from the diesel-fuelled plant on-site.
The NYCC Director of Public Health insists that there should be “robust environmental monitoring is conducted prior to, during and put the proposed operations” and asks for further information about how this might be achieved.
There is also quite a bit of detailed technical stuff about air quality monitoring – 11 separate points in all – which you can read on the letter itself, which is at the bottom of the page. It’s all quite technical, but suffice to say, they don’t sound very impressed.
Finally, there is a section on Production – which as you will know if you’ve read other information on this website, is something we are very concerned about and feel should not be included in this application. The NYCC asks for clarification on how long would KM8 be expected to produce commercial quantities of gas before further fracking is required.
There are also numerous other comments about conflicting information, pictures that are too small to be read, problems with their ecology report, the container wall, etc etc.
A subjective view of many aspects of the application is that Third Energy use the word ‘may’ a lot. This seems to indicate that they feel they should be allowed to decide at the time how they do this or that, rather than specify this in the planning application. The NYCC picked up on this every time, and have asked Third Energy to clarify what they are actually going to do, not what they ‘may’ do.
If you would like to read the whole of the NYCC letter, please click on the link below:
Alternatively, the letter is available on the NYCC Online Planning Register, then go to the Documents tab, P42, and it’s the second line down.
So what was Third Energy’s response to all these queries?
This was quite lengthy, and can also be found on the NYCC Online Planning Register, where you need to go to page 43 of the Documents Tab, it’s the third one down. Alternatively, you can download it below.
Blimey. They don’t make it easy for us, do they? Can you summarise this for me?
It’s what we live for. Basically, there was a lot of chat and repetition of the original planning application, but little substance, and a number of questions were ignored. If we were forced to sum their response up in one sentence it would be: “We’ve never been hassled about this before, so we’re not going to answer your questions (and we don’t think you should be asking them anyway).”
Anyway, these where the main points:
Noise: They basically just sent in the Manufacturer’s brochure for something called an Echo Barrier acoustic screen system. This would apparently mean 100 fewer HGV movements compared to the shipping container idea. (And to be honest, we never really believed they would use shipping containers and that their inclusion was really just so they could claim later on that they were responding to comments and reducing the visual impact and number of HGV movements. Which is what they are now doing.)
Highways and Traffic: Interestingly, they start by saying: “The Applicant’s intention is to undertake phases 1 and 2 of the proposed development, the pre-stimulation workover and hydraulic fracture stimulation/well test, in advance of March 2016.” However, the NYCC makes the clear planning point that their traffic survey should take into account any time of year.
Third Energy go on to say that they’ve been doing this for 20 years and have never had a problem with Flamingo Land traffic. This is irrelevant in planning terms, particularly as Third Energy have only owned the gas field since 2011. It’s worth pointing out that HGV movements are greater for this application than those quoted in the planning statement for the extension of the KM east site in 2012 including the drilling of KM8 (then known as KM Deep).
As for the bridge, again they claim they have never had a problem with this, although it is clear if you visit it that two HGVs cannot pass on the bridge. They say that they ‘have never been asked before’ to justify driving hundreds of HGVs over a Grade II listed bridge. However, they do acknowledge that there will be three ‘abnormal loads’, the workover rig being the heaviest at 60 tonnes.
Heritage: Third Energy claim that there is no list of non-designated heritage assets, so they can’t assess how they might be affected, which is a fair point. However, the ignore the query regarding how these heavy and abnormal loads would affect the bridge over Costa Beck.
Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation Treatment: They basically just repeated what was said on the original planning application, and didn’t really answer the questions.
Water: Quite a bit of technical detail here, saying basically as the well-site isn’t a designated Source Protection Zone (SPZ), then it isn’t a problem. However, the question was regarding local farmers and extraction points, not the general water supply into the mains, so we think that they might not have answered the questions here.
As for the pipeline, they say: “the Applicant is the operator of the existing pipeline and, as such, has overall control of its use. The pipeline has been successfully operated for 20 years without incident. The pipeline is subjected to scheduled monitoring in accordance with the Pipeline Safety Regulations 1996. The probability of the pipeline being unavailable for use is extremely remote.” However, they haven’t answered the question re the water that goes to the re-injection well at KM3.
There is also a lot of technical stuff which we have passed on to an independent hydrologist for comment.
Air Quality: The answers here are rather sketchy, including a less-than-reassuring mention of a ‘sniff test’ to check air quality. We would point to the need for ‘real-time’ air quality monitoring, for self-evident reasons. Again, a lot of technical detail which our air quality consultants are very interested in.
Production: They just dodged this one, saying, “The Applicant has indicated a period up to circa nine (9) years of production. The question has no relevance to the planning application. Any response would therefore be irrelevant in the context of determining the planning application.”
We are astonished that they can claim that nine years of productions has ‘no relevance to the planning application’. Seriously? We feel that production should not be included as part of this planning application and will continue to make this point. (This is the ‘Trojan Horse’ part of the application, intended to establish a precedent for production that they would then cite in future applications).
So what happened next?
Well, the NYCC have written to Third Energy again … for the continuing story, please go to the Consultation Round 2 page, where we give quick and easy guidelines on how to send in your comments. Oh, and well done for getting to the end!