The Government’s planning inspector Mr K Williams ruled to uphold the decision of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Planning Committee to refuse the application due to unresolved access issues.
At the time when the application was before the Planning Committee the members supported my proposal that the Marr Grange site be refused on the grounds of the access along Marr Lane, a very narrow road with a history of subsiding into the dyke alongside, and repeated damage to the water main in the roadside verge. It was determined that the road was unable to cater for a great number of 32 or 34 tonne lorry movements. The preferred access was a more direct and shorter route directly from the much wider and more substantially constructed Tongue Lane. The Market Weighton Internal Drainage Board and Gilberdyke Parish Council had highlighted this, and the Committee agreed the risk was unacceptable.
The ERYC Planning Officers had recommended approval and subsequently employed a consultant, but unfortunately neither could support the reason given for refusal. This led to the Council Officers offering no evidence at the public inquiry held as part of the appeal process. It was left to Peter Clark, the recently retired Clerk to the Market Weighton Drainage Board and I as the local Councillor to come up with and present the evidence, challenge the applicant’s witnesses and be challenged by their Barrister. But I guess the end justified the means and we won the day.
The company use a pioneering method of drilling, it is hoped they are successful and that a large and reliable gas field is found, as this would bring a tremendous boost to the local economy. It would also help to reduce the imports of gas from foreign lands, some of which are controlled by unstable and unpredictable governments.
I therefore hope that the company will learn from this appeal decision and realise they can't walk all over local opinion, and now go back to the landowner and renegotiate a more direct and shorter route from Tongue Lane to the proposed site. Ironically this would mean any temporary road from a highway to the drilling site being much shorter than originally proposed from Marr Lane.