Planners recommend approval of Grange Hill monitoring plans

Planning officers at Lancashire County Council have recommended approval of Cuadrilla’s plans to conduct seismic and pressure monitoring at its Grange Hill site on the Fylde.

The recommendation says in its summary that planning permission should be granted subject to conditions.

The Grange Hill site was drilled to a depth of over 10,000 feet in 2011, and was originally intended to be hydraulically fractured to test the flow of gas from shale rock.  Cuadrilla now intends to repurpose the site for monitoring use instead.

In a statement today, Cuadrilla said: “We welcome the decision by Lancashire County Council’s Planning Officers to recommend to the Council’s Development Control Committee the approval of planning consent for our application for our Grange Hill site.

“The monitoring works at Grange Hill would compliment the seismic monitoring arrays that we plan to install around our proposed new shale gas exploration sites at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road.  This work complies with the recommendations made by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineers for the monitoring of background seismicity before, during and after hydraulic fracturing.   The site would then be fully restored.

“The proposed monitoring does not entail further drilling or hydraulic fracturing at the Grange Hill site.”

According to the report, 301 objections were received although 200 of these were template letters.

Allaying potential concerns about well integrity, the planner’s report says that the process of pressure monitoring does not involve the use of fracking fluids and does not require the pressurising of the well to create fractures in the surrounding rock, and that there would be no increased risk of gas migrating to and contaminating ground water.  It also points out that the well is designed to prevent, on a permanent basis, the transfer of any gas from the underground rock formations via the well and so avoid fugitive gas emissions to the air and the contamination and pollution of ground and surface waters.

It concludes: “The proposed pressure monitoring and testing of the rock formations within the borehole at this site is part of a hydrocarbon exploration activity which is generally supported by Government policy. The development is for a temporary period of three years following which the site can be restored to its former agricultural use. The development would not have any significant unacceptable impacts in terms of seismic activity, traffic, noise, visual impacts or pollution. The development incorporates mitigation measures to ensure that there would be no impacts on ecological interests associated with the nearby European protected wildlife sites. On that basis the development is considered to comply with the policies of the NPPF and those of the development plan.  In view of the scale, location and nature of the proposed development it is considered no Convention Rights as set out in the Human Rights Act 1998 would be affected.”

The Development Control Committee will meet to decide the application on Wednesday 25th February 2015.


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