More restrictions added to seismic testing plan

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Nottinghamshire County Council has added further restrictions on where and how energy firm INEOS can carry out 3D seismic survey activity without planning consent.

Last month, INEOS notified the County Council about its plans to carry out a 3D seismic survey across parts of west Nottinghamshire for six months, commencing in early June.

The 250 square kilometre survey area also extends into Derbyshire and Rotherham.

Subject to certain restrictions and giving prior notification to the County Council, planning permission is not required for the survey as Government planning rules class it as ‘permitted development’.

In its response to the INEOS proposals, which already confirmed there would be no survey work in a number of sensitive areas, the County Council has applied extra restrictions, including:

Stand-off distances when surveying land near to Creswell Crags;

Maximum vibration levels and monitoring when surveying near designated sites (including SSSIs);

No shot holes to be drilled on any current or former landfill or spoil disposal site.

In addition to the new restrictions, INEOS has already confirmed that no seismic surveying will be undertaken within the following areas:

The Sherwood National Nature Reserve, including the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve;

Special Areas of Conservation;

Sites of Special Scientific Interest including Thoresby Lake, Welbeck Lake, Hills and Holes and Sookholme Brook, Warsop.

No surveying will be undertaken within any scheduled monuments in Nottinghamshire and as an additional measure, a 50 metre boundary zone will be in place to safeguard these protected areas from any nearby ground survey.

The survey will help INEOS to gain a better understanding of the geology and rock formations below the ground to understand where shale gas might be located. This will help the company to identify sites where future shale gas development could be undertaken.

Any future development would require full planning permission and no hydraulic fracturing would be undertaken as part of the survey.

INEOS owns a number of Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDL) across the East Midlands. These give the company exclusive permission to explore for onshore oil and gas within each Licence area.

Jonathan Smith, Development Management Team Manager at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Generally speaking, planning permission is not required for this type of activity, as Government planning rules class it as ‘permitted development’. However, we have worked with a number of partner organisations and in consultation with INEOS to identify sites and circumstances where restrictions should be applied.

“We are satisfied that these new restrictions, together with those initially proposed by INEOS, mean the survey can proceed as ‘permitted development’, within the classifications set by Government.”

To keep up-to-date with the latest information about planning and shale gas development in Nottinghamshire, you can sign up to the County Council’s email subscription service at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/emailme (select the Planning newsletter).