Shropshire gas bid firm still optimistic after fracking ruling

Energy bosses behind plans to drill for gas in Shropshire remain optimistic despite a council's decision to turn down a similar scheme in Lancashire.

Shropshire gas bid firm still optimistic after fracking ruling

Chiefs at Dart Energy said while they are disappointed that councillors refused permission to frack in Lancashire, they remain positive when it comes to their plans to operate an exploratory borehole for coal bed methane extraction in Dudleston Heath, near Ellesmere.

Stephen Bowler, CEO of IGas Energy incorporating Dart Energy, said: "This is obviously disappointing that, in spite of a recommendation from planning officers, legal and other experts, councillors have refused the application.

"We are encouraged however that the planning officers accepted the principle of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas exploration and appraisal, and that all environmental and safety issues associated with this process were addressed.

"This is just one application and each application is decided upon its merits.

"We have a long history of onshore exploration in the UK and have successfully mitigated noise and traffic impacts at other onshore locations on both brownfield and greenfield sites.

"Shale gas has the potential to cut UK gas import dependency by 50 per cent as well as being important economically and as part of a de-carbonisation strategy."

Councillors in Lancashire voted 10-4 to refuse the application put forward by Cuadrilla on the grounds of "unacceptable noise impact" and the "adverse urbanising effect on the landscape".

But in Dudleston Heath, Dart Energy hopes to use a site to operate an exploratory borehole to extract coal bed methane –it has insisted it has no plans to extract shale gas from rock by fracking, a method that uses high pressure water jets deep underground.

The energy firm put the plans forward last year and has since submitted an appeal over the length of time it took Shropshire Council to make a decision.

A public inquiry will now see Shropshire Council, Dart Energy and campaign group Frack Free Dudleston given the opportunity to put forward a case, call witnesses and cross-examine other witnesses and evidence before a final decision is made.

But Frack Free Dudleston has said that the decision in Lancashire could also strengthen its own case against the Ellesmere plans.

Group leader Chris Hesketh said: "We are immensely happy for the people of Lancashire.

"We have spoken to some of the people there who are campaigning just like we are and fully understand how hard they are working.

"We have examined the legal advice that was provided to the Lancashire councillors and believe that it will be useful to our case.

"We've known all along that we are lucky in that we have a wider range of robust planning arguments to bring to bear on our case.

"It is very pleasing to see democracy overcoming politics and vested interests."

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