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.