Rotherham fracking plan: INEOS wins test drill appeal

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Anti-fracking protestors included Friends of the Earth and the Green Party as well as Harthill Against Fracking
Image caption,
Anti-fracking protestors outside the public inquiry included Friends of the Earth, the Green Party and Harthill Against Fracking

A fracking firm has won an appeal for exploratory drilling near Rotherham.

Petrochemical firm Ineos wants to drill a test well at Common Lane, Harthill. The council had opposed its plan over concerns about the impact on roads.

Now, a planning inspector has ruled drilling equipment can be installed for up to five years, said the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

Campaigners said they were "devastated" by the news, which came after the plans were subjected to a public inquiry.

Ineos intends to dig a 2.8km (1.7 mile) well to extract rock samples for testing to see if it is viable to extract gas. It chose the site because of favourable "seismic data".

Protesters claim the drilling will lead to environmental and safety concerns, including increased traffic and pollution.

The firm lodged an appeal after the authority rejected the application citing ecological concerns and safety on the roads.

Image caption,
Ineos want to drill a well on land to the east of Harthill

The site can only be approached by country lanes and the council was concerned increased traffic could only be managed by the use of a series of passing places.

But in his ruling, planning inspector Stephen Roscoe said: "I do not consider that the proposal would be likely to have an unacceptable adverse effect on the use of these lanes by other vehicles."

He said the plans did "not represent inappropriate development and would not be harmful to the green belt".

He also made it clear the council would be responsible for developing a traffic management plan for the site.

But MP Kevin Barron said he would continue to fight against the decision.

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Ineos, which claims fracking is safe and a national resource to help meet future energy needs, is also planning a second attempt to win permission for a similar development in Woodsetts.

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