'Villagers have accused Britain’s richest man of making “a joke of local democracy” after his petrochemical firm applied to overturn a council’s decision to stop it from drilling a shale gas well in the Yorkshire countryside.
Residents in the village of Woodsetts, in South Yorkshire, said the plans by Ineos to carry out test drilling would “ruin so many people’s lives” and “devastate” the local community.
Councillors in Rotherham have twice refused planning permission for Ineos to carry out test drilling on the green belt land, citing concerns about highway safety and a lack of information about any environmental impacts.
But on Tuesday the multinational firm argued for those decisions to be overturned as a planning inquiry got under way in Rotherham. Amid demonstrations from dozens of local residents, Gordon Steele QC, representing Ineos, told the planning inquiry that concerns about fracking were “simply not relevant” to the application.
Steele said Ineos was only seeking permission at this stage to drill an exploratory core well for a “very limited timescale”. “This does not include fracking,” he told the planning inspector Katie Peerless. “Accordingly, any objections which are based on a concern about, or opposition to, fracking are simply not relevant at this inquiry.”
The tiny village of Woodsetts, home to just 1,700 people, is the latest frontline in the shale gas industry’s faltering attempts to make a success of fracking in Britain.
Councillors have raised concerns that the proposed drilling site is next to a sheltered housing development for the elderly and seriously ill, including residents with dementia, epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder.'
Read more: Villagers say gas well application is 'a joke', as inquiry opens
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14 July 2019
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