iGas have selected a site, which is some distance away from Austerfield and Bawtry, at Misson Springs, to explore for shale gas. iGas held a public exhibition attended by 85 residents. The site location can be found HERE.
The essential information is as follows:
• The exact location is shown on the attached map. The location is four miles from Blaxton, and a little further from Austerfield.
• The well is drilled to 1.5-2miles depth. This is well below water courses. The horizontal drilling from the well that occurs underground extends 1 km in length.
• The drilling phase which involves the most vehicles usage will add 9 vehicles per day to local roads.
• Subject to a traffic study the proposal is to route the vehicles north from the site, not through Austerfield or Bawtry. The railway crossing just north of Misson Springs currently has 750 vehicles daily through it.
What happens next?
iGas are submitting a planning application (to Nottinghamshire CC). This is for appraisal. Essentially, this is test drilling as their earlier survey indicates sources of methane. The company requires permission to construct a well head for test drilling.
The Next stage
Development – if test drilling is approved and development goes ahead, this would also require a separate planning permission.
At each stage, it is Nottingham which is the planning authority, not Doncaster.
I will seek to keep you advised as this proposal progresses. At this stage, I do not foresee any unnecessary worry or disruption to the lives of Austerfield or Bawtry residents.
If Labour forms a government, it is our policy to have strict controls on exploration for shale gas.
What is happening in Parliament?
In January, Labour tabled 13 rules that would govern shale gas exploration. The Government conceded these, but on Thursday 5th February, the Government tabled their own redrafted version of Labour's amendment which was considered by the Lords on Monday 9th February.
The Government amendment implements most of Labour’s conditions, but weakens a number of the protections Labour had secured. There are particular concerns about protections for national parks and drinking water.
Labour tried again to reverse these changes by tabling a further amendment in the Commons. The tabled amendment would have ensured:
1. That no fracking takes places under groundwater protection zones.
2. That there is no fracking not just within but also under protected areas such as national parks.
3. That Environmental Impact Assessments are mandatory at all sites.
4. That residents are notified on an individual basis of shale gas operations.
5. That all fugitive emissions are recorded, not just methane.
However, the Government used Parliamentary procedures to talk-out the debate, denying the opposition time to vote on this amendment. The Government’s watered down version of our amendment is now part of the Infrastructure Act.
Is that the final say?
No. If Labour wins the general election in May, we will ensure that these conditions are implemented, so shale gas exploration has tough, fair regulation in the interests of the environment and the communities in which it takes place.