“We are perplexed and disappointed by the decision of Lancashire County Council’s Development Control Committee (DCC) to refuse our planning application for Grange Hill. The refusal was contrary to the advice of Lancashire County Council planning officers, the HSE and the EA all of whom recommended it for approval. It is not clear what the technical basis of the Council’s decision was. As a consequence, the Grange Hill well appears to be in planning limbo since permission to plug the well and restore the site has been refused. We are awaiting clarification from the Council before deciding on next steps.
This application was to use the existing well at Grange Hill to carry out seismic and pressure monitoring after which the well was to have been plugged with cement and the site restored to greenfield status. The application did not entail any drilling or hydraulic fracturing operations.”
Planning permission was originally granted for the Grange Hill site in 2010, and the well was safely drilled to its target depth of 10,700ft in 2011. Cuadrilla applied for planning permission to use the existing well to carry out seismic and pressure monitoring, The proposed monitoring works at Grange Hill would complement the seismic monitoring arrays that Cuadrilla plans to install around its proposed new shale gas exploration sites at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road. The proposed monitoring work complies with the recommendations made by the Royal Society and The Royal Academy of Engineering for the monitoring of background seismicity, before during and after hydraulic fracturing. The application also requested for the site to be fully restored at the end of the monitoring process.