An energy company wanting to flow test its existing Ellesmere Port gas well is ‘pleased’ a planning officer is recommending permission is granted.
But anti-fracking activists fear consent would mean a ‘step closer’ to a full scale fracking operation with all the associated fears around water and air contamination as well as earthquakes.
Campaigners will hold a peaceful demonstration before next Tuesday’s planning committee (January 25) at Cheshire West and Chester Council HQ where the decision will be made.
Applicants IGas have confirmed the latest plan at Portside North does not involve hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’, and only relates to flow testing the existing well to assess whether commercial hydrocarbon production is possible.
A spokesperson said: “IGas is pleased that the planning officer has recommended that Chester West and Chester Council’s planning and licensing committee grant planning consent for the application to carry out further tests on the rock formation encountered in the Ellesmere Port-1 well, drilled in late 2014, called the Pentre Chert, including a flow test, to better understand the volumes of gas it contains.
“IGas was granted the required environmental permit by the Environment Agency in November 2017. IGas businesses have been drilling wells and producing oil and gas safely and in an environmentally responsible manner for over 30 years and we will continue to uphold the highest standards in the future.
“The company will await the councillors’ decision on this application currently scheduled for 25 January 2018.”
Planning officer Robert Charnley recommended approval in a report to go before councillors.
Mr Charnley wrote: “It is considered that great weight is given to the benefits of potential mineral extraction that may arise as a result of this appraisal. It is considered that, subject to conditions, the proposals would not give rise to unacceptable adverse impacts on the natural environment and human health, having particular regard to noise and particle emissions.
“The landscape and visual impacts of the proposals will be minimal when considering the location of the site and the time limited operations involved. The highways impacts of the development will also be limited for the same reasons.”