On 18 July 2017, INEOS was granted an environmental permit to drill an exploratory borehole to take core shale samples at a site near Common Road, Harthill, South Yorkshire. It was the second permit granted by the Environment Agency (EA) to INEOS in less than three weeks after a similar ‘standard rules’ permit was approved on 29 June 2017 for another site near Bramleymoor Lane, Marsh Lane, North Derbyshire.

Despite the protests of environmental campaigners, the EA was keen to stress that the permit only consents for INEOS to carry out drilling and waste management at the site as a means of taking rock samples but “it does not allow fracking.”

INEOS was not required to carry out an environmental impact assessment for either site as part of the previous planning permission process. However, the EA made it clear that standard rules permits are only issued to companies that demonstrate they understand and can manage risks to people and the environment.

These permits were issued in the context of Cuadrilla’s ongoing legal battle to resume hydraulic fracturing at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire and are being regarded by the shale industry as a key stepping stone for fracking taking place in England again for the first time since 2011.

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