Tuesday, 8 July 2014

East Riding of Yorkshire Council - Statement on Fracking by Portfolio holder Cllr Symon Fraser

Firstly, for the sake of clarity, the ERYC is not and does not promote and has not promoted fracking.
The Council, as the local planning authority is obliged to do two things:-

a)        We must determine planning applications submitted by developers.  We do this through our Development Control (planning) process.

b)        We must also have policies within our local plan which show how we, as the local authority, will support the energy sector.  These are included in the East Riding Local Plan Proposed Submission Strategy Document published in January 2014.

There are several other key regulators (not the Council) who are responsible for other aspects relating to fracking and other technical operations.

These other regulators and their respective responsibilities are as follows:

a)        The Department of Energy and Climate Change who issues Petroleum Licences, gives consent to drill under the Licence once other permissions and approvals are in place, and have responsibility for assessing risk of and monitoring seismic activity, as well as granting consent to flaring or venting;

b)        The Environment Agency who protect water resources (including groundwater aquifers), ensure appropriate treatment and disposal of mining waste, emissions to air, and suitable treatment and manage any naturally occurring radioactive materials; and

c)        The Health and Safety Executive who regulates the safety aspects of all phases of extraction, in particular responsibility for ensuring the appropriate design and construction of a well casing for any borehole.

The Council, as the local (minerals) planning authority is responsible for granting or refusing permission for the location of any wells and wellpads.  Where proposals are allowed the Council will impose conditions to ensure that the impact on the use of the land is acceptable.

Our policy (EC5) supporting the energy sector is summarised as follows:

a)        Proposals for the development of the energy sector will be supported where any significant adverse impacts are satisfactorily minimised and the residual harm is outweighted by the public benefits of the proposal.  Developments and their associated infrastructure should be acceptable in terms of:

1.        The cumulative impact of the proposal with other existing and proposed energy sector developments;

2.        The character and sensitivity of landscape to accommodate energy development, with particular consideration to the identified Important Landscape Areas.

3.        The effects of development on:

i.        local amenity, including noise, air quality, traffic, vibration, dust and visual impact;

ii.        biodiversity, geodiversity and nature, particularly in relation to designations, displacement, disturbance and collision and the impact of emissions/contamination;

iii.        the historic environment, including individual and groups of heritage assets above and below ground;

iv.        telecommunications and other networks, including the need for additional cabling to connect to the National Grid, electromagnetic production and interference, and aeronautical impacts such as on radar systems;

v.        transport, including the opportunity to use waterways and rail for transportation of materials and fuel, and the capacity of the road network to accommodate development;

vi.        increasing the risk of flooding; and

vii.        the land, including land stability, contamination and soils resources.

b)        Where appropriate, proposals should include provision for decommissioning at the end of their operation life.  Where decommissioning is necessary the site should be restored, with minimal adverse impact on amenity, landscape and biodiversity, and opportunities taken for enhancement of these features.

In conclusion, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council has a good track record of doing its absolute utmost to reflect local concerns and aspirations in its planning process, but all of this must of course follow national guidance and law as appropriate.

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