Nottinghamshire County Council’s Planning and Licensing Committee (the Committee) has approved plans to drill the county’s first exploratory shale gas wells. The approval which permits drilling two wells to explore the rock geology near Misson was approved by a majority of seven votes to four.

Island Gas Ltd (IGas) submitted its planning application for the works in October 2015. The Committee’s decision on 15 November 2016, comes after an extensive period of consultation involving over 40 organisations and 2,600 individual representations. The chair of the Committee, John Wilkinson, commented that ultimately, the Committee were satisfied that IGas had demonstrated they could address key issues associated with the works such as potential impacts on local residents, traffic, noise, access, opening hours and impacts on wildlife, flooding, heritage and archaeology.

The Committee attached 40 conditions to the planning permission. These include a requirement for IGas to put up a restoration bond and additional noise, water and air quality level testing to be undertaken throughout the development period. The approval is also subject to the completion of a section 106 agreement requiring a designated route for heavy goods vehicles servicing the site, adherence to a drivers code of conduct and an obligation to remedy any highway damage caused during the operations.

The decision has been welcomed by the Chief Executive of IGas, Stephen Bowler, and by the industry body, UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) as providing “positive momentum” to the shale gas industry. The Misson site is the third to receive approval for shale gas exploration after decisions in Yorkshire and Lancashire earlier this year.

IGas will need to submit a further planning application if it wishes to use fracking to exploit any identified reserves as the permission is solely for exploratory work. Nottinghamshire County Council has not yet received a planning application for fracking in the county. However it is currently processing a planning application from Dart Energy for a similar proposal for exploratory drilling at a site near Barnby Moor, Nottinghamshire. The Committee is expected to consider Dart Energy’s application on 20 December 2016.