Friday, 7 November 2014

Location of proposed new well site, West Newton B

The location of Rathlin Energy's proposed new well, West Newton B is:

Crooks Lane about 1 mile East of Burton Constable Hall and 0.625 miles South of West Newton.

Yorkshire Post article here:

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Rathlin plan a new well - West Newton B

Some residents local to West Newton recently received the letter below inviting them to an information session.

It says Rathlin are preparing a Planning Application for another exploration well- West Newton B.

Presumably this is because they've had to abandon their 1st £8million well after a monumental cock up that meant after 4 months of trying and gas leaks, they finally gave up, having conducted none of their planned tests.

In the interests of balance locals decided to hold their own event through Frack Free East Yorkshire.
That'll be in the pub, at the same time.

Community Event

Monday, 27 October 2014

Nature: Fracking Unlikely to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Some people (including local MP Graham Stewart) have said that because burning natural gas produces less CO2 emissions than burning coal (a notoriously filthy fuel) that fracking could help in the fight against climate change.

However, it seems likely that this would not be the case, according to this article that has just been published in Nature:

Limited impact on decadal-scale climate change from increased use of natural gas

Thursday, 23 October 2014

EA Letter to West Newton Local Residents

This letter was sent to residents who live very close to the West Newton well site, where serious problems with the well continue.  Testing that should have been completed weeks ago hasn't even begun, and well intervention equipment is still present on site this week.

The letter states that the noxious smells that have been emanating from West Newton have stopped.
This is not the case.  The smells continue to be reported.

We also note that the EA state,
Monitoring results will be sent to Public Health England to check that any emissions do not have the potential for effecting public health.
Which exposes as a lie Rathlin's claim that the smells are not harmful- they can not possibly know that.  Rathlin don't even know exactly what the smells are, and have proved themselves incapable of controlling them.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

East Riding Council stifles democracy by excluding public from controversial planning meeting

In what seems like a deliberate attempt to stifle democracy, East Riding of Yorkshire Council is regularly excluding some members of the public from controversial planning meetings.

Planners met at Beverley County Hall this afternoon to discuss the Crawberry Hill well site planning application, which was know in advance to be controversial and have a large public interest.

So they chose to limit public access to just 40 people, and only allow them access to the gallery where it is impossible to see the speakers and difficult to hear.

More than that number again were outside the building demanding access, but were refused entry.

A formal request was submitted immediately prior to the meeting notifying them of the situation and requesting adjournment to a bigger room, but this was not even acknowledged.

Kayte White is a local resident from Newbald, just a few miles from the development and was left stood on the pavement outside while the meeting proceeded inside:
"Several of us from the village are here and have not been allowed in- we're shocked and absolutely appalled.  This directly effects us and we have a right to see what goes on.  They must have known this would happen, and there needs to be provision for this situation."

Richard Howarth from Frack Free East Yorkshire said:
"This is a shocking attempt to exclude members of the public who have a right witness these proceedings.  This is supposed to be a democratic country and it's important democracy is seen to be done.  In other areas of the country it is standard practice to find a bigger room- but East Riding Council are stuck in the past, and it's simply unacceptable.

The situation inside wasn't much better.  The few people who did manage to get in all complained that they couldn't see what was going on, and couldn't hear properly- it was an absolute joke."

Minutes from ERYC Planning minutes (available here) show that the average number of members of the public attending is over 40 people.  Controversial developments regularly attract far more.

Cherry Burton Village survey- 94% opposed to fracking

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) survey results
Cherry Burton September 2014

Question:-Do you support hydraulic fracturing?

Yes    2    4%
No    45    94%
Don’t Know    1    2%

Comments (reproduced verbatim)

Yes: - none received

Don’t Know:- One received
1) I am confused with the different information in newspapers and TV from both the fors and against. We need more info told in simply terms.

No:- Thirteen received.

1) Several countries have banned fracking due to environmental problems. It is not safe.
2) We are concerned about the water supply, which comes directly from the Wolds. Fracking can cause contamination. Could it also cause long term subsidence?
3) Fracking will industrialise the countryside and increase traffic, disrupting rural communities and farming conveyance. (Cause earthquakes?) Fracking could contaminate water aquifers and soil causing danger to the health of the public, crops, livestock and wildlife. If so ……. Contamination would occur by contact ingestion and inhalation of chemical leakage. Effects:- Possible rejection of East Riding crops and livestock – farmers loss! Possible boycott of the Tourist Industry Possible water shortage Probable drop in property value Probable defacement of the beautiful countryside Maybe friends, family, visitors and guests would avoid the area. Major Questions:- What about the disposal of the poisonous waste water/chemical solution/suspension? Where and how would it be stored? The Future Generation ---- what for them?
4) We are concerned about the environmental impacts, the pollution of water supply and the potential of earthquakes as a result of fracking. I don’t feel it is a safe viable alternative to our energy demands (as a nation).
5) House prices will go down
Houses will be uninsurable
Water pollution
Can Yorkshire water guarantee water aquifer contamination will not occur? And Rathlin.
Financial guarantees to compensate should polluting occur.
Countryside destroyed.
6) Rathlin Energy do not get back to you on the telephone number that they have published on their leaflets and do not follow up messages on their message box. So what are they hiding?
7) Grave concerns over contamination of water courses.
Concerns about resultant earth tremors A small land mass such as Great Britain is totally unsuitable for negative effects of fracking.
8) All the risks are ours and with very little benefit!
There are a number of concerns but my main concern is that if things go wrong we have to live with the consequences. There is no way of reversing such things as
a) Contaminate aquifers
b) Sink holes/earthquakes
c) Loss of property values etc etc.
If drilling and fracking go ahead, only the energy companies win. We should have continuing payments into local coffers not 1 off payments.
9) If it’s been banned in various European countries and several states in America, there has to be cause for doubt.
Despite much talk, no-one seems to be able to say that this process is completely safe – apart from those with a commercial interest. Hardly reassuring!
10) Should do it out at sea and use the sea water.
11) Can we have honest answers to questions not rhetoric?
What effect will it have on groundwater, both levels and quality?
What effect will it have on aquifers?
Will additional water in ground affect land stability, especially under houses, land
inclines eg hills?
If so much extra water is being pumped into the ground, won’t it be less able to absorb rain from the torrential flood type rain that we now experience on a regular basis
(take this summer for instance)?
12) Only in so far as 1) reservations re water supply
2) Long term developers plans. Lack of detail/transparency
13) Too damaging to the environment especially the water aquavers.

Compiled by Cherry Burton Against Fracking
Survey forms available to view.

Newbald Village survey: 96% opposed to fracking

This survey was posted through every door in the village of Newbald.

Respondents were able to leave optional comments about their views on Fracking, of the 51 respondents 28 people felt strongly enough to add comments. All comments have been duplicated below.

Comments in Favour of Fracking

Advanced civilisation needs energy, and gas is far cleaner than coal. More gas available = less coal; less oil and coal imports, plus less dependency on undemocratic states that supply the UK with gas. More energy = more competitive and jobs for my sons.”

Comments against Fracking

The health and lives of the people living in East Yorkshire will be adversely affected.”

The potential risk of water contamination is too high”

VERY concerned about this issue and frustrated that that we seem unable to stop it happening”

fear of damage to aquifer and water pollution”

mining /drilling always in the long run affects ground water”

I am opposed to fracking for shale gas because, 1.As a country we should not be looking for new sources of fossil fuels but alternative greener sources of energy and 2. we should not be supporting ANY PROCESS such as fracking which has, ANY POTENTIAL to poison both surface and ground water supplies as well as risking air and soil pollution.”

I am concerned about the health implications of this industry which have been seen in other countries which have fracking. We need to ban this like Germany and France have.”

Not happy about potential contamination of water supply; not happy about damage to landscape
I feel very strongly about this. I am well informed about the matter and have researched both in favour of and against fracking. My decision to be against is an informed decision.”

Not enough research being done into risk of damage to chalk aquifer, try it and see not sensible approach, Who will manage security of wells once shale gas is removed and the developers move on?”

I oppose Hydraulic Fracturing in East Yorkshire”

We are worried that is might affect our water and wildlife. We are both dead against fracking and don't want it to go ahead.”

Nice little earner for those involved, but I cannot believe that it is without risk in terms of subsidence or to the water supply. Also there is the clutter to consider.”

Poisoning our water course, our children , ourselves will lead to destruction of our area, which is beautiful and currently a healthy place to live. Stop Fracking, put recourse into sustainable renewable energy.”

strongly disagree. I have done several online campaigns, I also filled in gov campaign and got many of my facebook contacts to do so, really worried about water supply and wonder why this has been banned in many countries! why are we doing this in the uk! so short sighted of councils everybody needs to think of the effect on the surrounding varea as it will affect everyone. what about house insurance and de valuing our beautiful village!!”

I have concerns about contamination of water supply, the impact on wildlife and the fracking sites spoiling the look of our beautiful countryside”

I do not support Fracking near Newbald as I am concerned about the impact on our water supply and on the local wildlife.”

banned in usa,germany,france for health risks environmental reasons”

it appears to us that if fracking goes ahead we will be left with a dangerous mess to clean up. lets all do as much as we can before this happens”

grave environmental and health risks,industrialised landscape,loss of tourism, house prices falling,its time to favour renewables or catastrophic climate change is a real possibility.”

I fear for the health implications that are unknown in the already fracked areas in the world. The industry is not tried and tested.”

It is in principle wrong to expand the use of fossil fuels as a source of energy. They are all on balance associated with negative long term consequences. Alternatives need to be developed. I do, however, find the antifracking movement shrill and hypocritical and rather immature in its approach. The same people objecting to fracking because of the putative dangers and its antidemocratic implementation also object to the expansion of windfarms in the area. Fracking needs to be seen in the overall context of UK energy policy. It is only reasonable to object to both fossil fuels and green energy if you can at the same time promote an alternative. We need to encourage people to use less energy overall, and to use the energy that they have to consume as efficiently as possible. I want the taxes that I pay to be used not to support the private sector to increase fossil fuel consumption, or the inefficient production of energy from wind turbines, but to subsidise energy saving and cheap green energy production. So - my taxes should go towards subsidising home insulation projects; preventing the loss of household energy to the environment; the adoption of solar panels by private households; public transport etc. In addition, private individuals and corporations should be penalised severely for wasting energy if such waste is avoidable. Also, private households should be provided a good price (an incentive) for diverting their surplus solar energy into the national grid - energy companies shoudl not get this energy on the cheap. Choose wisely grasshopper.”

I don't think we know enough about the concequences of Fracking and I am concerned about the implications this could have on our children's lives”

Worried about the future for my grandson”

I am most concerned about contamination to drinking water through leaked chemicals into our aquifer.”

scared of the risk of pollution to potable water sources and the industrialisation of our countryside”

I believe fracking will damage our water supply and is unnecessary.”

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Application to inject waste liquid into the North York Moors - COMMENT NOW

An insane plan to inject waste mining liquids into the North Yorkshire moors, of all places.

The applications are now open for comments... so let's get writing.

Ebberston Moor South – Planning Application Briefing

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Planning Report Fails to Consider Comments - Formal Complaint

Rathlin have controversially applied to extend their planning permission at Crawberry Hill well site for another 2 years, but East Riding Planning Dept is so under resourced that it has been unable to add many comments to the public case file.
The deadline for comments was 11th Sept, and many locals went to the trouble of having their say, but a week and half later many comments had still not been processed and were not available to read on the planning website.

Despite this, the draft planning report for committee, which meets next Thurs 2nd Oct, was completed this morning.

This is crucial- as it seems that the report can't consider all the comments, nor the public scrutinise them.

For example, one comment from a neighbouring farm complains about noise from the site- a material consideration that must be taken in to account.

But the Environmental Health officer states, "residents ... confirm that they had no grounds to complain".  This statement directly contradicts the residents comment- but the only reason we as the public became aware of it was because it was published accidentally.

The following formal complaint has been submitted:


Monday 22/9/2014
To: Peter Ashcroft, Head of Planning and Development Management, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, County Hall, Beverley, HU17 7AT
Dear Mr. Ashcroft,
Formal complaint – lack of due diligence in the public consultation for planning application 14/02622/STVAR
We write to complain about the insufficient resourcing of the Planning Department which means that public scrutiny of the statutory public consultation with regards to planning application 14/02622/STVAR has been prevented. In addition it is clear that you are not able to arrange appropriate scrutiny by officers and elected members to ensure due diligence and care is in place to protect the interests of East Riding residents.
We emphasise that this is no way a complaint about Shirley Ross, the individual planning officer concerned who, despite an unacceptable workload, has remained polite and helpful when dealing with our enquiries.
Many of those concerned about the public consultation process have been concerned that their objections submitted by the deadline of 11th September 2014 have not yet appeared on the relevant website showing associated documents for the 14/02622/STVAR application. Having waited over a week to check that our objections were shown on the website we contacted Shirley Ross this morning, 22/09/2014.
She explained that workload meant that she had not been able to read, check and upload the objections. She was concentrating on writing the report. She hoped to upload the remaining letters of objection “by the end of the week”. She pointed out that she had other reports to write as well and was doing the best she could in the circumstances.
  • How can Shirley Ross achieve due diligence on behalf of the ERYC with such a workload?
  • For example how can she draft an accurate report if she has not been able to read and assess all the objections before writing it?
  • How can she pass on new objections to the applicant in time for them to provide appropriate responses?
We pointed out that in one case the published response of your senior Environmental Health Officer, Ian McKechnie, was deliberately misleading. He stated,
I have also discussed noise issues with residents of nearby properties who confirm that they had no grounds to complain during the drilling phase.”
This is directly contradicted by the objection from Mrs Hayward of Cold Harbour Farmhouse, the nearest neighbour to the Crawberry Hill drilling site. She writes,
While test drilling the site was very noisy, not just drilling noise, the worst problem was at night when pipes would bang against each other.” Had Mr. McKechnie discussed noise issues with neighbours before writing his report he could not have written his response.
What is more significant as evidence to support this complaint is that Mrs Hayward’s objection was placed on the website in error because it had not been checked first. We phoned Shirley Ross this morning 22/09/14 to check why Mrs. Hayward’s letter, which I read and printed out last week, was no longer on the website and she confirmed that 4 letters had been removed because they went on without being checked first.
This train of events confirms why your process is unfit for purpose.
Objectors and supporters of the planning application are entitled to see all the relevant documents. So are Elected Members, especially those directly involved as local members or members of the Planning Committee.
If your normal process had been followed Mrs. Hayward’s letter would still not be available on line and we would not have been able to write to her or to Mr.McKechnie to point out that there was a direct misrepresentation of a relevant material consideration in reaching a decision on the application.
In addition, the officer responsible for drafting the report would not be aware of the need to get her facts checked on this issue, especially if the Cold Harbour Farm objection was not seen by her until after the report was printed for the Planning Committee.
In summary, we have presented evidence that, without being able to read all the letters of objection and support and the responses from relevant agencies and ERYC officers, it is not possible to exercise our democratic right, as residents, to scrutinise information sent in by the deadline of 11th September 2014. In addition officers, including you, and Elected Members do not have the information to enable scrutiny and checks to ensure a proper process is in place and due diligence is being shown by all concerned.
We have been informed by Liz Russell on behalf of Diane Hindhaugh that the report to the Planning Committee must signed off by you by the morning of Wednesday 24th September in order to be on the website by that afternoon to allow the required 5 working days before the Planning Committee of 2nd October 2014.
It is clear that due to insufficient resourcing of the officer team you cannot ensure that all responses received by the deadline of 11th September 2014 can be checked and analysed so not all relevant material considerations can be assessed in time to meet the deadline of 24th September.
It does not appear that you have any alternative but to postpone the report to the next Planning Committee meeting so that a proper process of drafting can be completed.

Yours sincerely, 

Friday, 5 September 2014

Chair of Rathlin also a chair of CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) - and sees no conflict of interest

You couldn't make it up.

David Montagu-Smith, Chair of Rathlin Energy, the oil & gas company intent on industrialising the East Riding, is also Chair of CPRE West Northamptonshire District- a group that claims to Campaign to Protect Rural England.

This may go some way to explaining the group's enthusiasm in campaigning against wind turbines, with industrial Dave personally writing this letter on the group's behalf, thanking an MP for asking for wind subsidies to cut.

Vested interests?  Surely not!
One member of CPRE has spoken out, as she believes he helped shape the organisation's policy on fracking.

Funniest of all, Smith himself seems utterly oblivious to the conflict of interest and, "is quite certain that the countryside has nothing to fear from the work of the oil industry...".

You can read Rathlin's Statement here.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Fracking Industry found Guilty of Scaremongering

A fracking company, so quick to accuse their opponents of scaremongering, have been found guilty by the Advertising Standards Authority of misleading the public when it made unsubstantiated claims about the benefits of fracking and claimed a gas shortage put the UK close to catastrophe.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Planning Breaches: Reply from the council

This is a reply to this letter.

Crawberry Hill Drilling Site, Walkington

I refer to your e-mail dated 4 August 2014 addressed to Nigel Pearson, Chief Executive regarding planning consent ref. 12/02945/STPLF granted 18 September 2012 for the above site. I have been asked to respond on the Chief Executive’s behalf. This response also deals with concerns over the site’s fencing and lighting that have been raised in subsequent correspondence on 6 August and your e-mail dated 15 August asking to cease operations on the site and for all the agencies to work together.

Your letter requested that East Riding of Yorkshire Council immediately investigate “breaches of the planning conditions detailed in the Notice of Decision, report to the Planning Committee and in the meantime stop any test drilling at Crawberry Hill until –
i) Rathlin give proof that they are fully compliant with planning conditions, and
ii) A detailed monitoring regime and schedule of inspection visits by the ERYC, Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency is agreed and published.”
The specific issues that your letter raised will be dealt with in turn below but the Council is satisfied that the planning conditions are being complied with, apart from the traffic management plan which will be explained below.

The Council, Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency each have different remits and therefore will undertake their own monitoring visits to the site. The Council works with both Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency but cannot prescribe when they should undertake their monitoring visits to the site.

Regarding Unconventional High Volume, High Pressure Hydraulic Fracturing

The permission is expressly for a temporary appraisal borehole to investigate the potential presence of petroleum minerals. Condition 15 expressly prohibits hydraulic fracturing activity. The approved Crawberry Hill exploratory operations do not propose hydraulic fracturing and the planning application did not seek to obtain permission to undertake such an operation.

Any agreement between Rathlin Energy and the Landowner has no bearing whatsoever on whether hydraulic fracturing is intended to be carried out at the site. The Council cannot comment on the allegation concerning Mr Ellerington’s repossession of his land as that is a civil matter between him and the developer.

Groundwater Management

Regarding the alleged breaches of condition 5.9 and 5.10;
Condition 5.9:
There shall be no discharge of foul or contaminated drainage from the site into either the groundwater or any surface waters, weather direct or via soakaways.
Condition 5.10:
Any facilities, above the ground for the storage of oils, fuels or chemicals shall be sited on an impervious base and surrounded by impervious walls. The volume of the bunded compound should be at least the equivalent capacity of the tank plus 10%. All filling points, vents, gauges and sight glasses must be located within the bund. The drainage system of the bund shall be sealed with no discharge to any watercourse, land or underground strata. Associated pipe work should be located above ground and protected from accidental damage. All filling points and tank overflow pipe outlets should be detailed to discharge into the bund. Such facilities shall be constructed and completed in accordance with plans approved by the Local Planning Authority.
Although there is no bund to the eastern boundary of the wellsite, there is a perimeter drainage system under the site which is provided to capture all surface water that migrates through the stone on to the membrane. The wellsite has been specifically constructed in a manner such as to prevent any contamination to the underlying subsoils and neighbouring fields.

A tank installed in the northeastern corner of the site, which was intended to receive surplus surface run-off water from the drainage ditch, is leaking. It was installed to provide additional surface water containment, in the event that Rathlin Energy was unable to bring water tankers to the wellsite to reduce the water level in the perimeter drainage ditch. The tank was subsequently identified as having a leak so Rathlin Energy closed the inlet valve and declared the tank unsuitable for use. Samples of the surface run-off water were obtained and sent away for analysis.

The content of the tank is believed to have been only surface run-off water, but this cannot be confirmed as Rathlin Energy were unable to access the wellsite for a period due to the site being occupied by protestors. The tank has now been mended.

Alleged lack of routine monitoring

The planning conditions relating to protecting water resources were attached at the request of the Environment Agency. This was at a time prior to the introduction of their permitting regime for such works. The Environment Agency confirmed to the Council that the changes to the regulatory regime since the planning application was approved mean that those activities at Crawberry Hill now fall under the Environmental Permitting Regulations and they are regulated under the permit issued by the Environment Agency on the 2 May, 2014. The Environment Agency has confirmed to this Council’s officers that they are satisfied that the proposal meets the requirements of condition 5 and the site will continue to be monitored under the permit. Whether or not the activity on site is in breach of the environmental permit is a matter for enforcement by the Environment Agency.

Temporary permission

The letter refers to the temporary nature of the exploratory drilling at Crawberry Hill. The planning permission is a temporary permission for 24 months (see Condition 2 of the planning permission). The Council has received an application (14/02622/STVAR) from Rathlin Energy for a variation of that planning condition that seeks to allow for a further 24 months to complete operations relating to exploration and testing at the Crawberry Hill site. The Council has invited comments on the application in the usual manner and the application will be considered by the Council's Planning Committee in due course following the expiry of the consultation period.

Rathlin’s long term plans

As with any company exploring for minerals, Rathlin Energy remain hopeful that petroleum will be encountered in commercial quantities during its exploratory operations in the East Riding of Yorkshire. These intentions have been made clear from the outset both in the planning application and in the extensive public consultations they have undertaken, pre- and post- planning permission being granted. Should the exploratory operations prove unsuccessful in finding commercial quantities of petroleum, the well will be plugged and abandoned with site restoration being undertaken thereafter, in accordance with the terms of the planning consent.
The agreement between Rathlin Energy and the Landowner provides initially for a temporary occupation, consistent with the temporary period applied for in the planning application, covering only the planned exploration activities. The 2012 permission grants a temporary exploratory permission. The developer’s strategy, whether publicised or not, does not alter that. Any future consent would be a matter of public consultation.

Traffic Management

The traffic management plan has not been adhered to as access to the Crawberry Hill wellsite became difficult due to the presence of protesters. In order to facilitate Rathlin Energy going about its business, Humberside Police have instructed Rathlin Energy to access the wellsite using an alternative route to that approved under the traffic management plan, primarily down to safety reasons. Whilst the road ‘Walkington Heads’ is a live and active road even on occasions when it has closures in place, the paramount priority is to get vehicles onto the site whilst maximising people’s safety, including the safety of the workers, police and protestors. To bring a large long convoy of vehicles past the tents and structures that are in place on land forming part of the highway, the police have had to look at alternative routes, in order to maximize safety. When accessing the site, a police escort is provided to ensure the safety of other road users, Rathlin Energy employees and the protestors. The planning condition was imposed in the interest of highway safety, but the police have amended the approved routeing arrangements in the interests of highway safety based on a different scenario than that envisaged during the planning process, I consider it would not be expedient or in the public interest for the Council to take enforcement action.


Rathlin have erected a steel security fence. Prior to its erection they checked details of the fencing with the Council. The Council confirmed that the site would have permitted development rights regarding fencing under the General Permitted Development Order. The fence will need to be removed at the end of the temporary consent under the site restoration works.


The Council’s Public Protection department, who requested the condition regarding lighting be attached to the planning consent, have confirmed that they are not concerned by the lighting on the site based on the information in your letter. If there is a serious road safety concern about lighting affecting traffic, then this is a matter for the Police. Public Protection can investigate alleged light nuisance, but it would need to be the occupant of a neighbouring property who complained about the lighting and how it affected them at their property, not in the street. Nonetheless it is understood that the lighting rig on site has been adjusted to reduce its impact on the public highway.

I hope you find the above helpful. I will copy this letter to all addresses of your e-mail of 4 August 2014 for their information.

Yours sincerely

Alan Menzies Director of Planning & Economic Regeneration

Planning Breaches: Letter to Council

The reply to this letter is here.


To: Chief Executive
East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Dear Mr. Pearson,

We the undersigned request that as the responsible planning authority, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council immediately investigate the breaches of the planning conditions detailed in the Notice of Decision, report to the Planning Committee and in the meantime stop any test drilling at Crawberry Hill until -

i) Rathlin give proof that they are fully compliant with planning conditions and 
ii) A detailed monitoring regime and schedule of inspection visits by the ERYC, Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency is agreed and published.
(References: Report to the Planning Committee ERYC 13th September 2012 Application for Construction of a temporary drilling site etc 12/02945/STPLF, and
Notice of Decision, Town and Country Planning Act, 1990,
Full Planning Permission for Rathlin Energy UK Ltd18th September 2012)

1.Background to the this request

Unconventional High Volume, High Pressure Hydraulic Fracturing known as Fracking

1.1 Fracking at Crawberry Hill

A specific condition of the planning permission was included following representations from local residents,
15.Hydraulic fracturing (also known as “hydro-fracking” or “fracking”) is expressly not permitted under the development hereby approved.The condition is imposed in the interests of groundwater protection and the broader protection of the amenities of residents. (NOD Condition 15)

However, in a later application to the Environment Agency submitted by Rathlin Energy UK Ltd on 16th January 2014 it is stated that as part of the test drilling Rathlin will
inject liquids into the well….. for “well stimulation” or “hydraulic fracturing” purposes..”  (Section 9.4.5 page 10)

In addition Rathlin state

The activity on site relates to the exploration for hydrocarbons from the Crawberry Hill 1 wellsite. Specifically, this will involve perforation of the existing well-casing to perform tests within the Bowland Shale, Namurian Sandstone and Kirkham Abbey formations. These tests may require the injection of water, some of which may return to the surface. (EA 9.2.1 page 8)

This is a reference to the exploratory hydraulic fracturing of the Bowland shales used elsewhere in the UK by companies such as Cuadrilla or I-gas who are open about their search for shale gas in the same Bowland shales.

Mr Ian Crane, with 20 years experience as a senior executive in the oil industry, is ready to give evidence that the Bowland shales are known to be “tight”. Like similar gas shales in the USA where fracking has been used extensively, gas can only be extracted by hydraulic fracturing for testing and production purposes.

Further understanding of Rathlin’s intentions may be gained from the current installation of fracking pumps at the West Newton test site.

In contrast to the statements by Rathlin as part of public consultation and subsequently, the papers submitted by Rathlin to the High Court hearing of 29th July 2014 included the lease agreement with Philip Ellerington which states
Rathlin has an option at any time to require the Second Claimanat to grant Rathlin a lease of Crawberry Hill in order to construct and operate a long term production facility at Crawberry Hill. The lease would be for a term of 25 years with an option to renew for a further 25 years.”(Witness statement of Tom Selkirk. 22/07/2014. Para.6. Page 2. Copy attached)

Rathlin are not currently testing, including the use of fracking, at Crawberry Hill but intend to do so now they have possession of the site. They are therefore not currently in breach of Condition 15 but are making preparation to do so.
Given the emerging data and analysis of long term serious health impacts from fracking in the USA and the detailed reports of the failure of hydraulic fracking at Preese Hall in 2011 we urge a review of the planning permission given to Rathlin because of the risks posed to residents of the East Riding and refer to our European Convention Human Right Article 8.

2. Groundwater Management

2.1 Breach of Planning Conditions 5.9 and 5.10

Condition 5.9. States
There shall be no discharge of foul or contaminated drainage from the site into either the ground water or any surface waters, whether direct or via soakaways.” ( NOD page3)

Condition 5.10. States
The drainage system of the bund shall be sealed with no discharge to any watercourse, land or underground strata. Associated pipework should be located above ground and protected from accidental damage. All filling points and tank overflow pipe outlets should be detailed to discharge into the bund.” (NOD page3)

The attached photograph shows there is no bund on the eastern boundary of the main drilling site so if we experience a severe weather event similar to recent storms in nearby Cottingham or Market Weighton there would be a high probability of run-off onto the pea and wheat crops in adjacent fields.(Attached A.0)

The photographs also show leakage from the storage tank used to receive surplus water from the drainage ditches on the drilling pad.(Attached 1-5) This leaks into a very small bund around the tank which does not meet the specification of 110% capacity of the tank.

While the current position is that rainwater is likely to be the main run-off, the concern must be that without full conformity with the planning permission and regular monitoring by the planning authority (ERYC) , the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water, the commencement of drilling and testing does pose significant risk to local crops and the aquifer.

The well testing will involve thousands of gallons of hydrochloric acid and other chemicals. Rathlin’s application to the Environment Agency acknowledges that drilling fluids and any water released from deep underground by drilling will be likely to contain Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORMs) as well as solid radioactive scale from the equipment. It is an obvious risk if spills and leaks mean that rainwater can wash these contaminants onto farmland and into the aquifer.

(Such a spillage has already been reported to Birds Eye, the buyer of the peas harvested at West Newton. Philip Ellerington cites his contract with Birds Eye as the reason for urgent repossession of his land in his High Court witness statement dated 21/07/2014)

The Environment Agency, gave permission to Rathlin to drill at Crawberry Hill on 2nd May 2014.
These include a Permit (EPR/BB3000KC) for mining waste operations at the wellsite, namely the management of extractive waste from prospecting for mineral resources. The permit also allows flaring of waste gas arising from onshore oil and gas operations as Permit (PB3930DV) for disposal of radioactive waste.” (Tom Selkirk. Witness statement 22/07/2014 Para 28. Pages 8 and 9)

Further detail about waste is given in Rathlin’s application to the Environment Agency dated 16/01/2014.

9.2.1 How do you plan to accumulate radioactive waste?
The activity on site relates to the exploration for hydrocarbons from the Crawberry Hill 1 wellsite. Specifically, this will involve perforation of the existing well-casing to perform tests within the Bowland Shale, Namurian Sandstone and Kirkham Abbey formations. These tests may require the injection of water, some of which may return to the surface. Additionally, water naturally present in the target formation has the potential to flow to the surface. Contact with the target formations mean that waste (produced water) may contain low levels of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material(NORM) and so accumulation of radioactive waste is unavoidable. There is also potential for scales forming within associated pipe network. The waste produced waters arriving at the surface will be piped to a device which separate any hydrocarbons present from the produced waters. The produced waters will then be piped directly into, and accumulated in, dedicated storage tanks, from which they are removed by road at suitable intervals for disposal to an authorised waste disposal facility. Equipment found to be contaminated with scales will be removed from service and stored in a designated quarantine area to await removal from site ( following characterisation).

The application goes on to request a maximum storage period on site of 3 months while the waste is tested and further indicates a maximum volume of waste storage of 125 cubic metres.
(Crawberry Hill B9 Application Form 16/01/2014 9.2.2 and 9.2.3 page 8)
The volume of the current, leaking, storage tank for groundwater is 24 cubic metres so Rathlin are requesting 5 similar storage tanks for radioactive waste.

2.2 Lack of routine monitoring at Crawberry Hill

The Protectors at Crawberry received a letter from Martin Christmas of the Environment Agency (attached A.1 ) and Mr Crane replied on the 22nd June ( attached A.2 ).

On the weekend of 19th-20th July there was heavy rainfall. Mr Crane noted the water from the drainage ditch on the well site was up to the level of the overflow pipe. He opened the valve to drain some of the water in the ditch into the overflow tank. It quickly became apparent that the 24 cubic metre relief tank is not fit for purpose. The tank had a leak at the base of the tank (photos attached A.3- A.5 ) and at the seal between the overflow pipe and the tank.

Jon Mager contacted the Planning office on the 21st July to enquire about Crawberry Hill. He asked if the case office, Shirley Ross, had visited the drilling site recently. He was told that Mrs Ross was on leave and that the details of monitoring visits were kept by her.

The water was leaking straight onto the soil so Mr Crane shut off the overflow valve and tried to call Martin Christmas at the Environment Agency. Martin Christmas returned the call on the morning of Thursday 24th July (call recorded). Having explained the situation regarding leaks Mr Crane invited him to visit the Crawberry Hill site to conduct his own inspection; Martin Christmas advised that he wasn’t too concerned because it would only be rainwater.

On the 30th July Jon Mager contacted Mrs Ross to catch up on planning issues on her return from leave. Mrs Ross confirmed that she was responsible for monitoring but had not visited for some while.
Mr Mager then outlined the concerns about leaks; Mrs Ross replied that the Environment Agency carried out regular checks and was surprised to be told that this was not the case.

2.3 Summary

In summary Rathlin have not conformed to the strict conditions laid down to ensure that groundwater contamination is avoided. There is no established routine inspection of the ERYC or EA permissions to drill.
Paragraph 9.4.3 of the report to planning committee refers to the need “to protect the groundwater resource” (Page 347). Since 12th May 2014 the Protectors at Crawberry Hill have effectively protected the groundwater resource. Now that Rathlin have regained access to the site there is an immediate risk to the groundwater from drilling chemicals and radioactive waste unless the required safety precautions relating to groundwater leakage from the site are dealt with.
In addition monitoring arrangements are clearly not effective and not coordinated. This is why we request an agreement between East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency about the regularity of inspection visits and a published timetable. In addition, given the vulnerability of the aquifer we would also expect an undertaking to conduct unannounced inspections with full public reports of the findings to reassure residents.

3. Temporary Nature of the exploratory drilling in the Current Planning Permission

3.1 Temporary nature of exploratory drilling

There are numerous references to the temporary nature of the exploratory drilling at Crawberry Hill in the report to Planning Committee of 13th September 2012.
  1. The title of the report “Application for Construction of a temporary drilling site etc…” Page329
  2. Introduction –“a temporary well site” (Para 1.2 and 1.3 page 330)
  3. Case on behalf of the Applicant “proposing to construct a temporary well site” “The temporary development is required….”(Para 7.3 and 7.6 page 342)
  4. Recommendation. “The site preparation and construction, drilling and testing activities approved by this permission shall be carried out for a limited period of 24 months…
This condition is imposed because this is a temporary permission to allow a period of exploration and testing. (Para12.2 page 352)
  1. Reason for Decision “This development proposes a temporary well site for the purposes of testing for petroleum……”
The development is considered acceptable in landscape terms, subject to a temporary consent and full restoration of the site.” (Page 360)

Rathlin may argue that they presented their longer term objectives. In the Case on behalf of the Applicant planning officers state, “If however, commercial quantities of petroleum are present, then the applicant will suspend the well pending the outcome of a decision on a subsequent planning application for the production of petroleum.” ( Para 7.4, page 342)

It is clear that the full report did not acknowledge this because of the repeated reference to the temporary nature of the exploratory work and the special time limit of 24 months instead of the normal three years.

In any case elected members supported the recommendations and this is recorded in the Notice of Decision.

Reason for Decision “This development proposes a temporary well site for the purposes of testing for petroleum……”
The development is considered acceptable in landscape terms, subject to a temporary consent and full restoration of the site.” (NOD 18th September 2012. Page 9.)

3.2 Rathlin’s long term plans

A claim for possession of property was served on Protectors resident at the wooden construction on the access road to the drilling pad on Thursday 24th July 2014 following occupation by a number of people which started on 13th June 2014.
In the accompanying witness statement by Tom Selkirk, Country Manager for Rathlin, it is stated,
Rathlin has an option at any time to require the Second Claimant to grant Rathlin a lease of Crawberry Hill in order to construct and operate a long term production facility at Crawberry Hill. The lease would be for a term of 25 years with an option to renew for a further 25 years.” (Selkirk Para 9. Page 3)

The second claimant is Philip Ellerington, the landowner, who corroborates this statement in his witness statement.

3.3 Summary

This was the first time that Rathlin’s long term intentions and plans became public. The plan is consistent with the stated strategy of the Canadian parent company, Connaught Oil and Gas, which, in its website reported its licence to develop oil and gas resources in the Humber Basin, claiming that potential reserves could be similar to the North Sea.

Rathlin has never published the link between the “temporary, exploratory” drilling sites at West Newton and Crawberry Hill and the strategy for 50 years of gas production from these proposed “production” sites.
Had these facts been known at the time of initial public consultations it is certain that many more and detailed objections would have been raised by individuals and local town and parish councils.
This is why we are calling for a stop to the present planning permission which was based on a lack of full, relevant information.
Also, there can be no doubt that it is in the public interest for East Riding of Yorkshire Council to ensure full formal consultation before any decision about the extension of planning permission for a further 2 years.

4. Traffic Management

4.1 The Traffic Management Plan

Extensive consultation took place with the East Riding Traffic Management team, the local Police and Parish Councils about traffic to the drilling site. Local residents frequently drew attention to the need to avoid vehicle traffic through adjacent villages.

Rathlin provided a traffic management plan which achieved minimal impact on local roads and villages by ensuring that all traffic was directed to approach and leave the site by the route running east towards Killingwoldgraves roundabout on the A1079. To ensure this a sign was erected to indicate No Right Turn at the site exit.

This sign and the traffic management plan has been ignored by all tanker convoys visiting the site.
The No Right Turn sign has been removed by ERYC staff.
Two way traffic is in place on the road and it is therefore urgent to establish that the Traffic Management Plan is adhered to before deliveries to the site are resumed.

Development shall be carried out in accordance with the Approved Traffic Management Plan.” NOD 12.page5)

This requirement will become all the more important once large convoys of supply lorries and equipment bring drilling and equipment onto the site. It will be extremely important when tanks containing acids and other chemical travel to the site; similarly local residents will want reassurance about the safe arrangements for transport by large numbers of tankers with radioactive waste on board.

4.2 Summary

East Riding of Yorkshire Council must ensure that the agreed Traffic Management Plan is put in place before any resumption of activity on site by Rathlin.

Please acknowledge receipt ... but note that each of the signatories below wish to receive written confirmation of receipt and an urgent response from you.
Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

[12 residents from the surrounding area]