Alan Evans and Constanze Bell, representing North Lincolnshire Council, have secured the dismissal of Egdon Resources appeal against North Lincolnshire Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for the long-term production of hydrocarbons (conventional hydrocarbon extraction) at the existing wellsite in Lodge Farm, Scunthorpe.
Alan and Constanze represented North Lincolnshire Council. Planning Inspector Kerri L Williams dismissed the two linked appeals for long-term hydrocarbon production but allowed a third appeal extending the time limit for the restoration of the existing site. The decision can be read in full here*.
Inspector Williams concluded that “it has not been shown that a risk of material harm to local residents, the wider community and local industry would not remain” and “it has not been shown that a material risk of harm to groundwater resources and to water quality in Ella Beck would not remain”.
Highly material to Inspector Williams decision to dismiss the appeals was the Appellant’s concession at inquiry that the Appellant had not produce a ground investigation report as part of the geotechnical design process for the containment system. Guidance refers to the ‘compulsory provision’ of such a report. At  Inspector Williams held: “The appellant conceded at the Inquiry that no such report had been prepared, although the ground conditions are said to have been assessed and considered acceptable by a very experienced engineer prior to installation of the GCL. I consider this to be a serious omission, particularly as the site would operate over a very long period. In addition, Ms Wagstaff referred to the different qualities of the sub-surface material depending on the amount of water it contained. Nor is it clear from the Environmental Permit (CDG2) decision document that the absence of the necessary ground condition report was addressed through the Environmental Permitting process”.
A further concern was the adequacy of the covering layer on top of the Geo-Synthetic Clay Liner (‘GCL’) installed on site as an impermeable layer to seal the site in the event of any leakages. The Inspector considered that “The appellant’s evidence on the precise structure of the layers overlying the GCL was somewhat confused”. This was not a matter which Inspector Williams considered could be overcome by condition (see -).
The decision will be of particular interest to mineral planners and lawyers but also to those interested in the relationship between the planning and regulatory regime (see, for example ). The Environment Agency had considered the proposals acceptable subject to conditions, and an Environmental Permit had been issued.
This decision has been covered in local and national press. The inquiry process was followed in detail by the website 'Drill or Drop'.
A copy of the decision can be found here.
Winckworth Sherwood in conversation with Kings Chambers
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