Hampshire County Council

Regulatory Committee

10 September 2003

Applicant: Star Energy UK Onshore Ltd

(1) Installation and operation of gas gathering processing and control facilities at Weston Common and Wellsite A and construction of 2.1 kilometre gas gathering pipeline, Humbly Grove Oilfield, Lasham

(Application No. BDB/55931) (County Council Ref. BA057 )

(2) Variation of condition of planning permission BDB46946 to allow continuation of the oilfield to 2025

(Application No: BDB55930) (County Council Ref: BA057)

(3) Variation of condition of planning permission F26326/9/CMA to allow continuation of the oilfield to 2025

(Application No: F26326/010/CMA) (County Council Ref: EH133)

(4) Variation of condition of planning permission 00/00024/CMA to allow continuation of oilfield to 2025

(Application No: 03/00517/ADJ)(County Council Ref: HR037)

Report of the Chief Planning Adviser to the Regulatory Committee

Item 13

Contact: Peter Chadwick, ext. 6728 email: peter.chadwick@hants.gov.uk

1. Summary

1.1 The proposal is to take gas during periods of low demand and store it in the Humbly Grove Oilfield underground, to improve the recovery of oil from the oilfield and also to provide a gas reserve during periods of high demand. The planning applications are to provide the necessary infrastructure, and variation of conditions to extend the life of the oilfield which would result from increased recovery. The gas pipeline from Barton Stacey to the oilfield is not included within these applications because, due to its length, it requires Pipeline Authorisation. The recommendation is to grant permission.

2. Site and proposals

2.1 The Humbly Grove Oilfield, as shown on the attached plan, was discovered in 1980. Following further exploratory drilling to assess the extent of the oilfield, planning permissions were granted in 1984 for the development of the oilfield. The proposals included eight wellsites for production, a gathering station to collect the oil, an export terminal at Holybourne and pipelines linking the sites. The planning permissions were subject to Review in 1990, and a new set of planning conditions approved.

2.2 Whilst the majority of the oilfield lies within Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council's area, two well sites are in Hart District Council's area and the oil terminal at Holybourne is in East Hampshire District Council's area.

2.3 The proposal is to inject gas into the oilfield to increase pressure and so increase the volume of oil recovered and extend the life of the oilfield to 2025. The gas would be imported at times of low demand. Gas storage would also enable the gas to be exported back to the main supply at times of high demand

2.4 A 27.4 kilometre pipeline from Barton Stacey to Humbly Grove would be constructed to link the site to the gas main. This pipeline is subject to authorisation from the Department of Trade and Industry, and therefore is not part of these applications.

2.5 The proposals which are the subject of this application are a 2.1 kilometre pipeline from Weston Common to Wellsite A, where the gas will be injected into the geological structure, and additional gas processing and treatment equipment at Weston Common and at Wellsite A. In addition, applications have been submitted for variation of condition for an extension of time for the oilfield to 2025.

2.6 The surrounding woodlands are Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs), and there are also a number of Public Rights of Way in the vicinity. The nearest houses are about 500 metres away from the Weston Common site.

2.7 The proposal is subject to the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, and an Environmental Statement has been submitted.

3. Development Plan

3.1 Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton Minerals and Waste Local Plan (Adopted December 1998) policies 7, 8 and 9 concern proposals for minerals development, whilst Policy 31 concerns oil development.

4. Consultations

4.1 Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council raises no objection.

4.2 East Hampshire District Council raises no objection.

4.3 Hart District Council raises no objection.

4.4 Froyle Parish Council raises no objection.

4.5 Binstead Parish Council raises no objection.

4.6 Weston Patrick Parish Council raises no objection subject to conditions.

4.7 Weston Corbett Parish Council - comments awaited.

4.8 South Warnborough Parish Council raises concerns about the impacts of a further 11 years for the oilfield operating and delay in reinstatement, and additional concerns about subsidence and gas leakage from the reservoir.

4.9 Upton Grey Parish Council - comments awaited.

4.10 Alton Town Council raises no objection.

4.11 Holybourne Village Association - comments awaited.

4.12 The Highways Adviser raises no objection subject to conditions.

4.13 The Environment Agency raises no objection subject to conditions to protect water resources.

4.14 The Environmental Health Officer, EHDC raises no objection.

4.15 The Environmental Health Officer, BDBC raises no objection.

4.16 The Environmental Health Officer, Hart District Council - comments awaited.

4.17 English Nature requires further information.

4.18 Hampshire Wildlife Trust requires further information.

4.19 The British Horse Society /Ramblers Association - comments awaited.

4.20 Mid Southern Water raises no objection.

4.21 Thames Water - comments awaited.

4.22 Southern Electricity - comments awaited.

4.23 Network Rail raises no objection.

4.24 The local Members, County Councillors McNair Scott, Sir James Scott, and Ludlow have been informed.

5. Representations

5.1 One letter has been received from a local resident, raising an objection on the grounds:

6. Chief Planning Adviser's Comments

6.1 This proposal is to use gas to increase pressure underground and so increase the proportion of oil which can be recovered. The principle of maximising the amount of oil recovered from the Humbly Grove Oilfield is in accordance with policy. In addition the storage of gas in times of low demand and its use in times of high demand would benefit gas usage.

6.2 The main implications of the proposal are the additional infrastructure required in terms of pipelines and onsite equipment, in particular the extension to the Weston Common site. The additional infrastructure within the oilfield would not be intrusive and would be visually acceptable.

6.3 The main pipeline from Barton Stacey to Weston Common is not part of these applications as it is authorised by Pipeline Consent. However, the County Council has been consulted. The environmental issues have been fully addressed and the pipeline should not cause excessive disturbance. Therefore it is recommended that no objection be raised to the pipeline.

6.4 The other main impact is the extension of time for the oilfield, and consequently extending the period of disturbance. The operation of the oilfield is very low key and has not been intrusive nor caused unacceptable environmental problems. This proposal would not result in any increase in environmental disturbance when operational, although there would be short term impacts during construction.

6.5 With regard to concerns about leakage of gas or subsidence, the site is geologically suitable for this storage as the underground structure provides a suitable cap that would prevent the gas from permeating to the surface. The depth of the reservoir is such that there would not be problems of subsidence.

6.6 In conclusion it is considered that the proposed infrastructure and future operation would be environmentally acceptable, and that the extension of time for the operation of the oilfield would be acceptable.

Recommendation

Application 1

That planning permission in respect of (1) Installation and operation of equipment and 2.1k pipeline for injection of gas at Humbly Grove Oilfield (BDB/55931) be granted subject to the following conditions:

Application 2

That planning permission in respect of (2) Variation of condition of planning permission BDB46946 to allow continuation of the oilfield to 2025 (Application No: BDB55930) be granted subject to the following condition:

Note: All other conditions remain in force.

Application 3

That planning permission in respect of (3) Variation of condition of planning permission F26326/9/CMA to allow continuation of the oilfield to 2025 (Application No: F26326/010/CMA) be granted subject to the following condition:

Note: All other conditions remain in force.

Application 4

That planning permission in respect of (3) Variation of condition of planning permission 00/00024/CMA to allow continuation of oilfield to 2025 (Application No: 03/00517/ADJ) be granted permission subject to the following condition:

Note: All other conditions remain in force.

Section 100 D - Local Government Act 1972 - background papers

The following documents disclose facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report.

NB the list excludes:

1.

Published works.

2.

Documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.

TITLE: Star Energy UK Onshore Ltd

LOCATION

Installation and operation of equipment and 2.1k pipeline for injection of gas

(Application No. BDB/55931)

(County Council Ref. )

8141/PDC

APPENDIX

HAMPSHIRE, PORTSMOUTH AND SOUTHAMPTON MINERALS AND WASTE LOCAL PLAN (ADOPTED 17 DECEMBER 1998)

Policy 7

The Mineral and Waste Planning Authorities will grant planning permission for minerals and waste development provided they are satisfied that, where appropriate, the proposed development pays due regard to:

(i) the relationship of the proposal site to other properties and land uses (particularly residential and other environmentally sensitive properties) and the likely effects of the proposed development on the locality by reason of noise, dust, smoke, fumes, illumination or any other factor and the need for buffer zones between the development and residential and other properties;

(ii) the likely volume and nature of traffic that would be generated by the proposed development and the suitability of the proposed access to the site and of the road network that would be affected, in terms of highway capacity and safety and environmental impact, and whether any highway improvements required could be carried out satisfactorily without causing unacceptable environmental impact;

(iii) the likely visual impact of the proposed development and the need for additional planting and screening, including planting in advance of the commencement of the development;

(iv) the need to safeguard the character and amenities of individual settlements and to safeguard open gaps between settlements from permanent development which would cause long-term harm to the function of the land;

(v) the likely effects of the proposed development on and the need to protect and safeguard sites of nature conservation, geological, archaeological, historic, architectural and landscape importance and their settings;

(vi) the extent and quality of agricultural land to be taken by the proposed development and the proposals for its subsequent restoration and the likely effects of the proposals on farm structure and management;

(vii) the likely effects of the proposed development on and the need to maintain the distinctive character of the landscape; the likely effects of the proposed development on and the need to safeguard and protect individual species, habitats and landscape features, including woodland, trees and hedgerows; and the likely effects of the proposed development on forestry and woodland management;

(viii) the likely effects of the proposed development on sites used for recreation and public rights of way and the need to protect or secure the satisfactory diversion of public rights of way;

(ix) the likely effects of the proposed development on and the need to safeguard the flow and quality of watercourses, water supplies, floodplains, groundwater, the drainage of the site and adjoining land and the level of the water table in the locality and the likely effects of the proposed development on the immediate setting of any river;

(x) any potential danger to aircraft from birds being attracted to the site;

(xi) the possible amenity implications of any landfill gas that might be generated at the site and of any provisions that might need to be made to deal with it; and

(xii) the likely cumulative impact of the proposed development in combination with any other significant development taking place or permitted to take place in the locality and the need to minimise the impact of mineral extraction and waste disposal operations by securing, where appropriate, the phased release of sites and progression of working and restoration.

Policy 8

Applications for planning permission for minerals or waste development in the following areas will not be granted save when the development would not prejudice the purpose of the designation and where there is an overriding need for the development to take place in the public interest:

(i) the New Forest Heritage Area;

(ii) Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty;

(iii) National Nature Reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation and Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites);

(iv) Scheduled Ancient Monuments and their settings;

(v) Conservation Areas, Listed Buildings, and sites on the National Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.

Policy 9

Applications for planning permission for minerals or waste development in the following areas will not be granted save where there is an overriding need for the development to take place and any adverse effects can be satisfactorily ameliorated:

(i) Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation and Local Nature Reserves;

(ii) Ground Water Source Protection Zone 1 (Inner Source Protection) areas;

(iii) sites on the County Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

Policy 31

Following the drilling of an initial exploratory borehole, development, either in connection with an appraisal programme or of facilities for producing, processing or transporting oil or natural gas, will be permitted provided that the Mineral Planning Authority is satisfied that:

(i) the development is necessary to confirm geological structures or to confirm or exploit the oil or gas resource, and the need for the development outweighs any adverse environmental impact or other detrimental effect that would be likely to be caused by it ; and

(ii) the proposed location of the development is the most suitable taking into account environmental, geological and technical factors; and

(iii) the development would not give rise to any unacceptable environmental impact; and

(iv) the proposal is consistent with either an agreed overall scheme or a production strategy for the area.