THE company which wanted to create a 2,800-metre vertical well on farmland in Woodsetts has said it is disappointed that the plan has been thrown out.
Councillors voted unanimously to reject the proposal on Dinnington Road on environmental and highway safety grounds yesterday (March 8) after a two-hour planning debate.
Members of protest group Woodsetts Against Fracking and local residents voiced their views at the packed meeting, and there have been hundreds of written objections to the project.
Planning officers had recommended refusal.
Now Ineos Shale have said the firm is saddened at the decision which could have national ramifications.
The application had been for a drill to test what was below the surface at Woodsetts rather than for the extraction of shale gas — so-called fracking — which would have required another planning application.
Planning officers admitted at the meeting that the application could not be rejected on highways or visual amenity grounds, particularly since it was a temporary project which would last five years — but was rejected on environmental grounds as officers deemed there to be have a lack of research into the impact on wildlife and ancient woodlands.
Councillors added their own highways safety objections to the reasons for refusal following concerns about dozens of HGVs going along the roads at Woodsetts each day.
A spokesman for Ineos Shale said: "The application allows for the drilling of a single vertical core bore well to gain scientific knowledge of what is below the surface, which has been agreed by many councils many times in the past to support the coal industry. This is no different.
“It is important to note that a completely separate application must be made for the extraction of gas.”
The company spokesman said Ineos Shale believed it had carried out “the right amount of ecological mitigation”.
It said that shale gas is “a resource that is of strategic importance to the UK and issues of energy security always have to be factored in".
The company said that the recent spate of bad weather had left the country on the brink of running out of gas and that there was a security argument to make Britain “less reliant on countries such as Russia or the Middle East” for supplies of fuel.
One of the protestors’ arguments was that Ineos Shale would use any shale gas extracted in the future to make plastics rather than offer it as a fuel supply for homes and factories.
But Ineos Shale said that people had ignored the economic arguments when refusing the application.
The spokesman said: “Rotherham relies on manufacturing jobs at places such as at Liberty Steel, but these are not secured or created without investment and there is precious little investment in the North of England in manufacturing at the moment.
“Recent figures on jobs and investment estimate that the shale industry is expected to bring in £33 billion of investment into England alone over the next two decades.
“Furthermore, shale gas offers the potential to bring down energy prices. High energy costs are badly affecting businesses up and down the country and was one of the reasons cited in the recent near closure of Liberty.
“The resources beneath our feet can be used to create jobs, heat our homes, go a long way towards self-sufficiency and improve our balance of payments and the environment all at the same time.”