Green light for East Midlands shale gas exploration

Energy company iGas has been given the green light by Nottingham City Council to explore for shale gas in the Misson region of the East Midlands.

In what is viewed by many as the first step towards the site being potentially fracked in the future, iGas will drill two wells at Misson - marking the UK’s third site to be approved for exploration this year.

Joining sites in Lancashire and Yorkshire, the Misson wells have been welcomed by United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) who highlight the ‘positive momentum’ in efforts to explore the UK’s shale gas potential.

Unlike the Lancashire and Yorkshire sites, however, iGas will need to make a further planning application if it wants to employ hydraulic fracturing to recover shale gas at the former cold war missile base.

Stephen Bowler, CEO of iGas, said: “I am pleased that the committee has made this positive determination following the recommendation by the planning officer. It has been a long process and everyone has been extremely thorough.

“We are at a critical juncture in the future of our energy mix and supply, as we move away from coal towards lower carbon energy sources. We rely significantly on gas in the UK, not just for electricity, but also in heating eight out of 10 homes and as a raw material in the manufacture of many everyday products, including plastics and clothing.”

However, among other groups, Friends of the Earth has labelled the decision as ‘completely wrong’. In October the group successfully delayed the council’s decision by arguing that approval would be an illegal act because the drilling is next to a protected nature site.

Chris Crean, Friends of the Earth’s West Midlands campaigner, said: “This is a very disappointing decision from the county council. This proposal failed to comply with many requirements and should have been refused for the negative impacts it would have on the local environment, including the protected wildlife site, the Misson training area Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

“Just a couple of weeks after the Paris climate change agreement came into force, pursuing extreme methods to get more fossil fuels out of the ground like this is completely wrong.”