This story by Jennifer Scott was originally published in the Nottingham Post.
Fracking could be a step closer in Nottinghamshire after a planning committee voted through plans to monitor groundwater in Misson.
The process has to take place for a year – under government legislation – before any attempts are made to extract shale gas, leaving residents fearful about what the next steps could be on the site off Spring Lane.
But members of Nottinghamshire County Council said they could only vote on the proposal in front of them at yesterday’s meeting, and may take a different view when, or if, applications for fracking are later submitted.
The plan, which was voted through nine votes to two, will see four 40 metre monitoring boreholes drilled into the ground. The company in charge of the process, iGas, will then monitor groundwater for levels of methane.
The works are expected to take up to eight weeks, with each hole taking two weeks to create, but monitoring of the site will then continue for the rest of the year.
Protesters filled the public gallery at County Hall yesterday to hear from all sides of the row – from local politicians and campaigners to the company itself.
Helen Mitchem, member of campaign groups Frack Free Nottinghamshire and Bassetlaw Against Fracking, fought against the borehole plans, claiming the noise levels would affect local people and wildlife in the area.
“We want to see our council put the health of local people; protection of the countryside and the conservation of wildlife ahead of the wishes of a business whose actions will ruin the landscape and contribute to climate change with little benefit to local people.”
And local MP for the area, John Mann, told the committee there were better sites for the eventual fracking process than rural Misson.
“Your critical powers as a council are about the location,” he said. “Uniquely, there is only one road through Misson… and at one end there is a quarry and a mushroom farm.
“If you put this on the other end, you will trap the village and industrialise it.”
But Spencer Warren, who represented iGas at the meeting, warned the Government was seeking to amend rules around boreholes, meaning eventually the company would not even have to go to the council for planning approval.
Councillor Stan Heptinstall, who sits on the committee, said: “We have been told that in the near future there will be no need for this planning so even if we turn this down it will be overidden in a few months time.
“I feel convinced by what has been said today that the [water] monitoring will be done properly.”