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A massive thanks to the incredible work of Misson Community Action Group, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Earth, who at the last minute submitted evidence of a restrictive covenant which provides legal protections for the Wildlife Trust’s SSSI site and the proposed drilling site. This has caused the Planning Committee to defer this application until Tuesday 15th November 2016 in order to seek legal advice.

Lawyers are currently in conversation to identify whether the covenant makes the drilling legally undeliverable.

The Officer’s recommendation to approve the application has relied on:
  • The great weight to be applied to exploration (which outweighs all of the harm, including ‘temporary significant effect’ caused to the SSSI
  • The great weight applied to advice from Natural England that there will be no long-term impact on the SSSI

The Planning Committee will not be allowed to argue that great weight should not be applied. So to reject the application it will be necessary for them to conclude that the harm has been understated.

To counter the above two points, the Planning Committee need to consider:

  • The great weight given by expert advice from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust
  • That even temporary noise levels above the limits could cause serious harm to the most rare breeding birds in the SSSI (The Committee already established there is no way of immediately enforcing breaches of noise levels)
  • All of the adverse impacts which together outweigh the great weight to be applied to drilling holes in the ground – this includes the problem of LGVs through Misson Village which have been understated in the report
  • The great weight on the failure of IGas to pass the Flood Sequential Test (contrary to policies DM12 and SP4) and the failure to properly consider alternative sites
  • The unacceptability of fracking / exploratory drilling from a climate change point of view

We believe that there is no way of fully monitoring the conditions proposed. As we saw from Daneshill that multiple conditions were breached. This is because the fracking industry rely on self-regulation and do not provide any real-time monitoring data or immediate enforcement action. Therefore the planning committee must reject this application.

More details

Para 991 & 1419-1421 & 1436-1437 of the Officer’s Report
It is accepted there will be significant temporary harm to the SSSI (due to air emissions from traffic, compressors, etc); there are at least two alternative sites and “satisfactory justification for ruling these out has not been provided”. The report says benefits will outweigh impacts so this is acceptable. That is a matter of opinion and planning committee members will be entitled to consider it is not acceptable.

Para 1082 & 1424 & 1439-1440 of the Officer’s Report
The Sequential Test for flood risk has not been met. There are alternative sites with lower risk and the small footprint on agricultural land and need for new access are not justification for ruling them out. The report says that because the site is considered safe and won’t increase the risk of flooding elsewhere this is considered acceptable. Again, the committee is entitled to consider it is not acceptable.

Noise
On the figures given, noise levels cannot be kept below 42dB on the western edge of the SSSI. This should be considered unacceptable during the breeding season. (They are proposing a condition to prevent construction and restoration during the breeding season, but consider that 44dB is acceptable on the edge of the SSSI during drilling in the breeding season.)

Site selection
To meet local planning policy, the developer must show there are no other suitable alternatives, however, there were likely to be alternative drilling sites that would have less impact on the SSSI and have a lower flood risk

Heritage
There would be a degree of harm to heritage assets, specifically the setting of Newlands Farm, meaning that the proposal does not comply with Policy DM8 (The Historic Environment) of the Bassetlaw Core Strategy which has a presumption against development that would be detrimental to the significance of a heritage asset.

Drill rig
The 57m drill rig is “substantial” and would have a visual impact

Unexploded Ordnance
Remnants of previous ordnance practice could pose an explosion risk. In addition, the Ministry of Defence is unable to account for all the ordnance in terms of where it landed and exploded.

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