Since the Conservatives won a majority in the general election just over three weeks ago, there has been an increase in the number of planning applications submitted relating to hydraulic fracturing.
This observation comes after a marked rise in the share price of many fracking companies since fracking-friendly Amber Rudd was selected as secretary of state for the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
And while fracking did not get a direct mention in the Queen’s speech on Wednesday, it was noted that “measures will be introduced to increase energy security and to control immigration.”
‘Energy Security’ has often been highlighted as one of the major reasons for pushing ahead with fracking, and this subtle implication could be interpreted as continued support in the push for more unconventional oil and gas extraction in the UK.
Let the Applications Begin
Firstly, and perhaps most controversially, is news of Third Energy’s planning application to hydraulically stimulate and test its existing gas well at Kirby Misperton.
The application was submitted to North Yorkshire County Council by the energy company last Friday.
The recently elected Conservative MP for Thirsk, Malton and Filey, Kevin Hollinrake, wants to ensure that fracking is safe if it is to get the go-ahead.
Hollinrake took over as the Conservative Party candidate after Anne McIntosh was deselected last year. This was quite controversial at the time, as McIntosh was outspoken against fracking and was also the chairwoman of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs' Select Committee.
In addition, McIntosh did not support the government’s Infrastructure Bill, and demanded that the government’s heavily redacted report on fracking be made wholly transparent for the public.
Third Energy’s other controversial planning application, submitted in September 2014 for two waste water reinjection wells at Ebberston Moor, was due to be discussed by the North York Moors Planning Committee on Thursday 14 May, but discussions have been deferred yet again and it’s likely that they will be debated at some point in June.
Meanwhile, in East Yorkshire, Rathlin Energy is seeking approval of plans for a second exploratory oil and gas well at the West Newton site, in Holderness, East Yorkshire.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council, which remains a Conservative-controlled council following the 2015 local elections, has recommended that the application should be granted to the company but the council’s planning committee will make the final decision on Thursday 4 June.
Many of the people who objected to the application raised concerns about Rathlin Energy breaching environmental permits at their existing drilling site at West Newton.
In North Nottinghamshire, IGas has identified a new site where it wants to explore for shale gas. Nottinghamshire County Council announced on Monday that IGas had asked for a scoping opinion on the site: the first step that needs to be taken before making a full planning application.
According to the press release, the site is off Springs Road, north-east of Misson, in Bassetlaw, near the local authority boundary with Doncaster and North Lincolnshire. IGas is expected to submit a planning application at the end of June.
Lastly, it was brought to the public's attention this week that Nick Grealy, the chief executive of London Local Energy, has applied for a hydrocarbon licence in the London Borough of Merton. As well as Merton, the company has also applied for a licence in North London and other parts of Surrey.
Grealy is expecting a response from the government by August this year, and, if successful, the drilling could start at the end of next year.
Photo: Cuadrilla via Creative Commons