Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yes to Coalbed methane exploration in Howdenshire - But No to walking over local opinions

Scottish energy company Composite Energy will have to go back to the drawing board for a proposed 900m deep exploratory borehole in the search for coalbed methane on a site near Marr Grange Farm in Oxmardyke near Gilberdyke.

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.


Kev Owen said...

So we're now to have an 'appraisal site' drilled in search of CBM(Coal Bed Methane)are we?

Local residents will be expected to put up with the building of access roads and the associated upheaval as the drilling site is constructed.
Once constructed and the drilling is completed ( typically takes around 60 days @ 24 hours a day) there are no guarantees that the site will be viable for any commercial methane production therefore no guarantees of any influx of wealth for the local economy either?

In the case of the site not being found to be viable, it will take a further 1 year (perhaps longer depending on weather conditions) before the site is restored to it's former use.
We (as a species)seem unable to come up with any alternatives to fossil fuels.
Governments seem hell bent on maximising the recovery of any hydrocarbon reserves and are spending vast amounts of money and inconveniencing a lot of people in searching for them be they in solid, liquid or gaseous form.

Wouldn't it be more beneficial to the global population as a whole (and less intrusive) if that money was spent, not in digging more holes in our planet, but in investigating new sources of energy that don't involve turning our planet into Swiss cheese or a a veritable gigantic prune?

John Jessop said...

Congratulations to you and Peter of MWDB Paul. Shame on the ERYC department for their lack of action!
Why the access from Newport main road the company used to drill the adjacent exploration wasn't extended and used seems utterly illogical. They spent a considerable sum in stoning the farm tracks etc then after they finished the track was returned to farm use and much of the stone removed.
I do not believe the local economy will see any material benefit from the outcome of the exploration even if workable resources are found. At best we may see a short burst of construction followed by an unmanned automated extraction plant which will compress the methane and pump it into the nearby underground grid pipework. Having said that the country needs independant energy just don't locally expect more than will happen.