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Agenda Item No.

 

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 13TH APRIL, 2015

 

REFERENCE FROM PLANNING COMMITTEE: 12TH MARCH, 2015

 

 

GENERAL PLANNING MATTERS (DDS) –

 

(i)       The Town and Country Planning (Notification) (Unconventional Oil and Gas) (Wales) Direction 2015

 

The Committee received a report to apprise it in relation to the publication of a new direction by Welsh Government which required that any planning application for onshore gas or oil development which proposed to use unconventional methods (including hydraulic fracturing) to stimulate extraction for any stage of development (exploration, appraisal or commercial extraction) be referred to the Welsh Government, where local planning authorities are minded to approve them.  On 13th February 2015 the Welsh Minister for Natural Resources wrote to all Chief Planning Officers to notify them of the new Direction.

 

This new direction would apply to any application for planning permission registered as valid on or after 16th February 2015.  Guidance had been provided to clarify the new requirements and was attached at Appendix A to the report.

 

The Welsh Government advised that they had adopted a precautionary approach to the development of unconventional oil and gas resources in Wales.  In support of this approach this Notification Direction required that where it was proposed to approve a planning application for unconventional oil and gas development which would involve using hydraulically fracturing technology then the Local Planning Authority must first refer the planning application to Welsh Ministers to determine whether the application should be called in.  This would provide Welsh Ministers an opportunity to consider whether appropriate scrutiny had been given to environmental and public health concerns, as these may raise issues of more than local importance.  The Welsh Ministers may choose to call in the planning application or, if appropriate, issue a direction that the application may not be approved until such time as directed by the Welsh Ministers.

 

Members were minded to recall that in recent years the Council had received a number of applications for test drilling for shale gas, as follows:

 

2011/00115/FUL - Unit 1, Llandow Industrial Estate, Llandow - Drill and test the insitu lower limestone shale and associated strata. Withdrawn 12/04/11.

 

2011/00812/FUL - Unit 1, Llandow Industrial Estate, Llandow - Drill and test the insitu lower limestone and associated strata for the presence of gas.  Refused for the following reason:

 

The applicant had submitted insufficient information to satisfy the Local Planning Authority that the quantity and quality of groundwater supplies in the vicinity of the site, would be protected, in accordance with the requirements of paragraph 30 of Minerals Planning Policy Wales (2000) (MPPW) which advised that development should ‘not cause unacceptable impact, or otherwise damage or adversely affect water resources or sources of water which might be an integral part of sites of high landscape value or nature conservation importance’ and where doubt remained,

Councils should adopt the precautionary principle.  Accordingly, the development was contrary to the advice contained in the above guidance and Policies MIN 1 – Mineral Exploration and ENV 29 – Protection of Environmental Quality, of the Adopted Unitary Development Plan 1996-2011.

 

A subsequent planning appeal was allowed subject to conditions on 6th July 2012.

2013/00333/FUL - Site located in field 400m along an unnamed road between the A4266 and Duffryn (grid ref 308215 : 171623) - Drill a single vertical exploration borehole.  Approved 04/10/13.

 

2013/00334/FUL - Unit 20, Sutton Spring Road, Llandow Trading Estate - Drill a single vertical exploration borehole. Approved 04/10/13.

 

2013/00335/FUL - Land on the west side of the road leading from Llancarfan to Bonvilston (Grid ref. 305209:172962) - Drill an exploration borehole to test for gas reserves.  Approved 04/10/13.

 

The Direction clarified the arrangements and criteria for notifying the Welsh Ministers in relation to planning applications for unconventional oil and gas development, that being development involving the onshore exploration, appraisal or production of coal bed methane or shale oil or gas using unconventional extraction techniques, including fracturing (but does not include the making of exploratory boreholes which do not involve the carrying out of such unconventional extraction techniques).  Therefore, the applications considered to date in the Vale of Glamorgan area would not be covered by the Direction. National Planning Policy governing the consideration of these applications remained unchanged at this time.

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)      T H A T the content of the report be noted.

 

(2)      T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet for information.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)      To inform Planning Committee of the new direction and the implications for the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

 

(2)      To inform Cabinet of the new direction and the implications for the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

 

 

(Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson spoke on this item with the permission of the Planning Committee.)

 

 

 

 Attached as Appendix – Report to Planning Committee: 12th March, 2015

 

 

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