Agenda item

Supplementary Report - To vary Condition 1 of planning permission W97/131952/14 granted in December 2014 to extend the period of time to carry out the temporary operations to drill an exploratory bore hole for conventional hydrocarbons, production testing and evaluation at Land To The East Of Smithfield Road, North Kelsey Moor, Market Rasen - Egdon Resources Ltd - 137302


(Note: Councillor M J Storer arrived in the meeting at 10.35am just before the commencement of this item.


The Chairman reminded the Committee that only those Members who had attended the site visits on 9 May were able to debate and vote on the application)


Since the publication of the report further responses to consultation had been received and were detailed in the update to the Committee which was published on the Council's website and had been sent to the Committee before the meeting. Officers stated that responses to consultation had also been received since the publication of the update asking questions about whether planning procedures in connection with the extension of time had been correctly followed. Officers stated that these issues had been addressed at the previous meeting and that the 2014 permission had been legally implemented.


Officers stated that the Committee, at its previous meeting, had requested details of vehicle movements associated with the development.  The traffic movements associated with the site could be split into four categories and the meeting was informed of the phases as follows:-


1. Construction Phase – 300 in/300 out over a seven week period, with an additional 10 vehicle movements of heavy goods vehicles and 4 vehicle movements with low loaders and the occasional movement of cars/vans.


2. Operational Phase – eight week duration involving 126 traffic movements to bring the drill and ancillary equipment to the site and 126 movements to remove the equipment from the site.


3. Operational Testing Phase – should oil be found this would be collected by tanker together with any associated water and taken to a facility offsite. It was anticipated that this would involve 6 tankers for oil and 2 tankers for water in a month. 32 heavy commercial vehicle movements in the first week setting up the site and a small number of vehicles would be visiting the site during this period.


4. Restoration Phase – should insufficient reserves not be identified the number of vehicles could be 600 as in the first phase but this all depended on the retention of the access track but would not exceed 600.


Amanda Suddaby, an objector, commented as follows:-


·         The site visit made by the Committee would have allowed Members to view the highway conditions leading to the site.

·         There were inaccuracies in the application which should have been found with scrutiny.

·         There was a lack of clear information in connection with the application.

·         Road improvements would not mitigate impact and breached three pre-commencement conditions: 12c, 13 and 16.

·         The objectors asked for documentary evidence that Condition 12 had been satisfied.

·         The applicant had breached their conditions already by accessing their site from the wrong direction (by use of the route over the level crossing), removed soil without archaeological examination and driven over soft verges close to dykes.

·         The proposed 300mm stone layer overlaying the liner was insufficient and in line with manufacturer's guidance or Environment Agency guidelines.

·         The archaeology of the area had not been examined.

·         Considered that work on the site was illegal as the applicant had commenced work after the expiration of the original permission.

·         The applicant's reasons for delay were not planning issues. The price of oil if considered a reason implied a presumption that production would follow, in which case, she asked the Committee to consider 20 years' impact of oil tankers, noise, flaring, lighting and toxic waste on residents, farmers and wildlife.

·         Incompetent safeguarding was proposed.

·         Lincolnshire had a proud agricultural tradition which should be protected along with other truly sustainable enterprises such as tourism and wildlife conservation that brought pride to local people and do harm locally or beyond.


Amanda Suddaby responded to questions by the Committee as follows:-


·    She was speaking on behalf of residents living on Smithfield Lane, the local farm and a wider group of residents.

·    The applicant had used the unapproved route twice that this route was used by cyclists, farm traffic, had a blind bend and would damage the road.

·    She had not taken any survey of traffic and added that the site visit had taken place during a quiet part of the day.


Paul Foster, the applicant, commented as follows:-


·    He thanked officers for their balanced report.

·    He had noted concerns expressed by objectors in connection with the extra traffic on the local highway. He stated that there would only be 18 movements a day over a 17 week period or 1 vehicle per hour, with no working on a Saturday afternoon, Sunday or a Bank Holiday.

·    The travel time to and from the site along Smithfield Lane was only 3 minutes.

·    He was aware of the safety issues and there would be communication with the drivers to avoid too many HGVs visiting the site at the same time.

·    There were no recorded accidents on Smithfield Lane and the necessary highway improvements had been made to this road. Any repairs required would be undertaken by the applicant.

·    Highways had not objected to the application.

·    The application met Government policy and, if successful, the site would contribute taxes, help the balance of payments and provide employment for local people.


Paul Foster responded to questions from the Committee as follows:-


·         He stated that during Phase 1 there would only be one HGV per hour and HGVs would not be arriving at the site at the same time.

·         He was surprised to hear comments about the use of the level crossing route adding that he was not aware of his company using this route.


The local Member, Councillor A H Turner MBE and the neighbouring local Member, Councillor C L Strange, commented as follows:-


·         The Members needed to understand the position of local residents and how they would feel if this development was taking place on their "door step".

·         It was important to ensure that the applicant abided by the conditions if the application was approved.

·         Local residents had concerns about the effects of the application on local water courses and the quality of their lives.

·         Local residents had concerns about noise.

·         The highways concerns had not been addressed. The turn off from the B1434 on to Smithfield Lane was extremely dangerous and vehicles travelled fast along the B1434.

·         The applicant should consider paying compensation to local residents although it was noted that this was not a planning consideration.

·         The applicant should produce an Environmental Impact Assessment.


Officers responded to the comments made as follows:-


·         No statistics were available about the number of vehicles using Smithfield Lane.

·         The application was legal as the applicant had implemented the permission granted in 2014 by 31 December 2017, as officers confirmed at that time that they were satisfied the permission had been implemented.

·         The level crossing route was not permitted to be used by the applicant and officers had no evidence to suggest that this route had been used by the applicant when constructing the access and undertaking the highway improvements. There were not any traffic route issues in connection with other oil field sites in Lincolnshire.

·         If the application was approved it would be rigorously monitored and enforcement action would be available if any of the conditions were breached.

·         Confirmed that the water courses would be protected and the Environment Permit would prevent pollution.

·         An Environmental Impact Assessment was not required for this application.

·         The applicant was required to meet those noise levels detailed in the conditions.


Comments by the Committee and the responses of officers, where applicable, included:-


·    The site visit had been useful.

·    The applicant should talk to objectors to allay their concerns.

·    The main concerns were about noise and highway issues.

·    The site needed to be restored following completion.

·    8 HGV movements a day associated with the site was small compared to the movement of agricultural traffic.

·    The passing places on Smithfield Lane should be extended.

·    The need to monitor the site to ensure that the improvements made to the highway were satisfactory and, if not, then the applicant should be asked to make further improvements.

·         There were no planning reasons to refuse the application.


On a motion by Councillor D Brailsford, seconded by Councillor P A Skinner, it was –


RESOLVED (unanimous)


That planning permission be granted subject to the conditions detailed in the report.






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