In July 2018 Egdon announced the submission to North Lincolnshire Council (NLC) of a new planning application (the Application) for the development of the Wressle oil field, which the Company believes comprehensively addresses the reasons for the refusal of the original planning applications and the subsequent appeals.
The Application is supported by a detailed planning and sustainability statement, a suite of technical drawings showing construction and layout details and updated and new technical assessments.
The Company believes that the Application takes full account of the key findings of the Planning Inspector’s decision to dismiss the Company’s appeals as set out in his decision letter of 4 January 2018, which identified three key issues in his decision; the absence of a ground conditions survey report; the absence of sufficient evidence on the adequacy of the Geosynthetic Clay Liner (GCL) covering; and uncertainty with regards to the near surface geology and specifically the presence of capping layers to the underlying aquifers.
The first issue has been addressed by the production of an independent Ground Investigation Report which evaluates and confirms the underlying ground condition at the wellsite using information gained from geotechnical site investigation boreholes drilled in Q1 2018.
The second issue has been addressed through the proposed reconfiguration of the wellsite to install a new high-density polyethylene (HDPE) impermeable membrane above the existing GCL, with additional associated protection layers across the entire wellsite. The specification of the HDPE impermeable membrane, associated protection layers and thickness and suitability of the stone covering layer, has been informed by the Ground Investigation Report, tested and validated in a laboratory, and agreed between the membrane manufacturer and Egdon’s consulting civil and structural engineers.
The third issue has been addressed through an updated independent Hydrogeological and Flood Risk Assessment (HRA), which includes the results of samples tested from two deeper cored boreholes drilled in Q1 2018. The HRA confirms the detail of the near surface geology and conclusively demonstrates the presence of laterally continuous capping layers to the underlying aquifers.
The new planning application (the Application) seeks permission for the Proposed Development, which comprises:
“Retention of the Wressle-1 Wellsite and access track for the Production of Hydrocarbons, together with an extension of the site by 0.12ha for the installation of additional security facilities; site reconfiguration to facilitate the installation of a new impermeable membrane, French drain and surface water interceptor; construction of a bund, tanker loader plinth and internal roadway system; installation of up to 2 additional groundwater monitoring boreholes and deepening of 3 existing groundwater monitoring boreholes; well operations; installation of production facilities and equipment; installation of gas engine and electrical grid connection; oil and gas production for a temporary period of 15 years; and restoration to arable land at Lodge Farm, Clapp Gate, Appleby, Scunthorpe.”
The planning application is accompanied by the following documents:
- Planning and Sustainability Statement;
- Planning Application Form;
- Oil and Gas Checklist;
- Site Plans and Design Drawings;
- Technical Assessments comprising:
- Air Quality Assessment;
- Archaeology and Heritage Impact Assessment;
- Civil and Structural Design Statement;
- Ecological Appraisal;
- Hydrogeological and Flood Risk Assessment;
- Landscape and Visual Appraisal;
- Lighting Assessment;
- Assessment of Environmental Noise Emissions; and
- Transport Statement.
Whilst the Inspector supported Egdon’s position on many aspects of the previous applications the Inspector identified the following as key issues in his decision to dismiss the Company’s appeals as set out in his decision letter of 4 January 2018:
- The absence of a ground conditions survey report;
- The absence of sufficient evidence on the adequacy of the Geosynthetic Clay Liner (GCL) covering; and
- Uncertainty with regards to the near surface geology and specifically the presence of capping layers to the underlying aquifers.
Egdon believes that these issues have been fully addressed in the Application as summarised in the RNS and as detailed further below.
- A number of geotechnical site investigation boreholes and two deeper cored boreholes were drilled on the Wressle-1 wellsite during Q1 2018.
- The nature of the underlying ground condition at the wellsite has been assessed and an independent Ground Investigation Report prepared which details the existing ground conditions at the wellsite, confirming the Company’s view of the suitability of the site and satisfying the first of the Inspectors key reasons for dismissal of the appeals.
- This Ground Investigation Report has been utilised by an independent firm of consulting civil and structural engineers, to prepare a Civil and Structural Design Statement. This document details the design criteria, guidance and regulations applicable to the redesign and reconfiguration of the wellsite as proposed in the Application.
- The proposed wellsite reconfiguration will result in the installation of a new high-density polyethylene (HDPE) impermeable membrane and additional associated protection layers across the entire wellsite. As part of this, the existing site surface aggregate will be stripped and regraded, before being re-laid on top of the new HDPE impermeable membrane system.
- The installation specification of the HDPE impermeable membrane, associated protection layers and thickness and suitability of the stone covering layer, has been tested and validated in a laboratory against the maximum expected site loading, and agreed between the manufacturer and Egdon’s consulting civil and structural engineers to ensure the HDPE impermeable membrane is protected throughout the life of the wellsite.
- Although on inspection it was found to be in effective condition, the existing GCL membrane will remain in place but will no longer be relied upon as tertiary containment, as it is being overlaid with the new HDPE impermeable membrane system.
- A Construction Quality Assurance plan will be used to ensure the installation of the lining system is robust and constructed to the highest engineering standards.
- A poured reinforced concrete internal roadway will be constructed to provide even greater weight distribution and protection above the HDPE impermeable membrane in the most heavily trafficked area of the site.
- The installation of a new HDPE impermeable membrane, which has been informed by the ground investigation report and designed and tested by Egdon’s consulting civil and structural engineers, in consultation with, and in agreement with the manufacturer, along with other measures as detailed; comprehensively addresses the Inspectors concerns in relation to point b above.
- In relation to point c., Egdon commissioned an independent Hydrogeological and Flood Risk Assessment (HRA) to address the uncertainty identified by the Inspector with regard to the near surface geology and specifically the presence of capping layers to the underlying aquifers.