Shropshire councillors admit they would have rejected Dart Energy plans to drill at Dudleston

Shropshire councillors admit they would have rejected Dart Energy plans to drill at Dudleston


At a meeting on Wednesday 18th February, Shropshire councillors on the planning committee said they would have turned down Dart Energy’s plans to drill a single exploratory borehole at Dudleston had it still had responsibility for the decision.

Dart Energy is seeking to test for the presence of coal bed methane at the site, and to see if it can be extracted in commercial quantities.

But in October last year, after months of delay, it launched an appeal to the Government’s planning inspectors on the ground of non-determination by Shropshire council.

This means that the decision will now be made by central Government, without public hearings, and with planning inspectors only taking written evidence for and against.


Missed opportunity

James Mansell, director of north Shropshire-based Clear Solutions, a supplier of environmentally-friendly drilling fluids, believes the council has missed an opportunity: “All the evidence suggests that Britain will continue to need large quantities of natural gas in its energy mix for decades to come, but right now most of our gas is imported.

“That being the case, it makes good economic sense to produce our own gas if we can. There is a huge potential to create local jobs, particularly in supply chain SMEs.

“We have a proud history of onshore drilling for oil and gas that stretches back over 70 years in the UK. It can be done safely, and it’s a shame that our councillors haven’t recognised that, kept control of this decision at the local level, and seized the opportunity to boost employment in the area.”


Seeking clarity

Commentating on the appeal, Douglas Bain, country manager for Dart Energy, said: “It is in the best interest of all parties to have clarity on the application.

“I empathise with any community wanting to know what’s going on in the area. We have taken it to appeal, we want to get clarity for everyone. The longer it goes on, the more unsettling it is for everyone. We are very confident. The planning officer said it was a suitable site for development.”

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