Councillors in East Yorkshire voted unanimously this afternoon to give Rathlin Energy another three years to operate an exploratory gas site in Holderness. But they added a condition preventing hydraulic fracturing.
The extension of time at the West Newton A site, north of Hull, will allow Rathlin to drill and test a second well. But opponents of Rathlin’s operation said after the meeting the no-frack clause would reduce the value of the company’s assets in East Yorkshire should it decide to sell.
The decision on the application was reached in less than 40 minutes by East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s planning committee. Members heard two presentations lasting under 10 minutes in total, one from an opponent of the scheme and one from a consultant for the company.
After the vote, objectors to the application called out to the committee: “Shame on you”, “You are a shower” and “You don’t listen”.
One person asked: “Would you want that in your back yard?” Another said: “You believe what Rathlin say. They lied and you believed every word.”
The committee’s chair, Cllr Phyllis Pollard, told them: “You have made your point. I would like you to go.”
The meeting at County Hall in Beverley heard there had been a total of 87 objections, of which 54 had been received since a report by planning officers was published a week ago. They included concerns about noise, traffic, a pollution incident at the site last September, risks to environment, wildlife and water and questions about trust in the company.
Councillors were told that one objection, received this morning, alleged Rathlin misled the public about a mini fall-off or mini-frack test at the existing well at West Newton A. The company had permission for the test but has said consistently it decided not to do it.
The objection referred to a video, said to have been filmed on 3rd August 2014, which had been released this morning. The meeting heard that the video appeared to show the company’s field manager saying that a mini frack was underway.
This afternoon, Rathlin said again that it did not carry out the test and questioned the authenticity of the video. But during the meeting, Jon Mager, for objectors to the application, said the company had an environmental permit that allowed it to do another mini-frack at West Newton A.