Adoption of EU Directive 2014/52/EU on Environmental Impact Assessments

John Wilkinson made this Freedom of Information request to Environment Agency

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Dear Environment Agency,

1. Has the UK Government adopted, or does it intend to adopt, EU Directive 2014/52/EU on Environmental Impact Assessments of projects?
2. If adoption of the Directive is not intended, can you please indicate why?
3. Can you also please confirm that fracking schemes come within the definition of projects covered by the Directive?
4. Do you agree that planning applications for all fracking schemes should all have an Environmental Impact Assessment?
5. If not, can you please indicate why?

Yours faithfully,

John Wilkinson

Enquiries, Unit, Environment Agency

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National Requests, Environment Agency

Dear Mr Wilkinson

Thank you for your request.

We are treating your enquiry as an Information Request under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004/Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your request will be dealt with by our National Request Team under reference NR43483

The Environment Agency covers England only.

For Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, please see the links below:

http://www.sepa.org.uk/

http://www.doeni.gov.uk/niea/

http://www.naturalresourceswales.gov.uk/

The Environment Agency’s obligation under the relevant legislation is to provide you with the requested information within 20 working days from the date your enquiry is received, but we shall endeavour to respond as soon as we can.

In the meantime should you have any queries regarding this request please contact us at: [email address]

Kind regards

Maria Bisby
Environment Agency
National Requests Team
Part of National Operations
03708 506 506
[email address]

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National Requests, Environment Agency

Dear Mr Wilkinson,

 

Thank you for your enquiry.

 

Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and the decision whether or not to
require them from oil and gas operators is a matter for the local mineral
planning authority and falls within the regulatory remit of the Department
for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). Your enquiry has therefore
been transferred to our contacts in this department who will respond
directly to you.

 

Whilst the Environment Agency does not decide if an EIA is required for a
site, as this is part of the planning regime, we are a statutory consultee
in both the assessment and planning permission application. We also
require companies to have a number of environmental permits in place
before any hydraulic fracturing (fracking) can take place. As part of the
permitting process we require operators to undertake detailed site
specific hydrogeological risk assessments which we will scrutinise. This
assessment is separate to the EIA required by planning and is compulsory
for every hydraulic fracturing site. We will not allow hydraulic
fracturing to take place if think there is a risk to people or the
environment.

 

Yours sincerely

 

National Requests Team

National Customer Contact Centre

Environment Agency

 

 

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Dear National Requests,

Thank you for your response dated 18/4/2017.

I hope though you can expand on the comment that you "will not allow hydraulic fracturing to take place if (we) think there is a risk to people or the environment". I ask for clarity on this issue because of the prospect that fracking can induce seismicity or result in the fugitive vertical migration of gases and fluids through fault lines.

In this context I note that you approved construction of a multi-well pad at Roseacre Wood which entailed a vertical fracking well to a depth of over 3,000m, and a lateral well at a depth of just over 2,000m stretching for a distance of about 1,500m. Both wells appear to be planned to intersect the Mid-Elswick and Graben Faults, and the lateral is planned to come very close to the Thistleton Fault.

Yours faithfully,

John Wilkinson

Roger Wand,

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Wilkinson,

 

Your communication of 29 March below has been passed by the Environment
Agency to this Department for reply.    With apologies for the delay in
replying, please find our response under the particular questions you have
raised. 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Roger Wand

 

 

Roger Wand I Planning - Infrastructure Division I DCLG

Third floor | Fry Building | 2 Marsham Street | London SW1P 4DF I T: 0303
444 1688

 

[1]cid:image001.png@01D05658.D5A697C0

 

 
 

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National Requests, Environment Agency

Dear Mr Wilkinson

Thank you for your enquiry.

Please accept our apologies for the delay.

The potential for the operations at Roseacre Wood to create induced seismicity and any impacts this could cause are included in the Environmental Statement documents that formed part of the planning application, and the Environmental Permit application.

In particular there is a chapter and a detailed appendix entitled Induced Seismicity that reviews the potential risks and sets out mitigation measures to reduce the risk of any environmental impact. Briefly, these mitigation measures require that;
• hydraulic fracturing injection points will be located away from any faulting identified on the 3D seismic surveys by a minimum distance of 2.5 times the expected fracture extent. This includes regional faults such as those mentioned in your email.
• the operations will be carried out using a stepped volume approach. This approach involves operations starting with small volume injections and monitoring the progress of the fractures before increasing the volumes, if suitable to do so.

Operators must also monitor fractures using microseismic equipment to ascertain the extent and orientation of the fractures that are produced as the operations progress- this is a requirement of the environmental permit. The hydraulic fracture plan which operators are required to produce must outline how they will adhere to the Traffic Light System (required by the Oil and Gas Authority). The Traffic Light System requires that seismicity is measured before, during and after hydraulic fracturing operations. The hydraulic fracture plan must also identify the methodology to be used during the hydraulic fracturing operations to ensure that seismic activity is limited and what actions will be taken should the pre-set thresholds be reached. The hydraulic fracture plan must be agreed with the Environment Agency and Oil and Gas Authority before any hydraulic fracturing can take place. The plan will also be made available on the public register.

When the Environment Agency determined the permit for this site we took all the above information into account. In issuing the permit we are satisfied that the risks of any detrimental environmental impact happening due to induced seismicity have been adequately addressed and that measures are in place to ensure that the situation is continually monitored so that action can be taken should it be necessary.

Kind regards
Onshore Oil and Gas team

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Dear National Requests,

Thank you for your response dated 2nd June 2017 to my request for clarification of a statement made in your FOI reply dated 18th April 2017.

Your response covers in detail the issue of induced seismicity caused by fracking. However it does not address the second prospect I raised that "fracking can .................. result in the fugitive vertical migration of gases and fluids through fault lines". Can you therefore please respond on this issue?

Yours faithfully,

John Wilkinson

National Requests, Environment Agency

Dear Mr Wilkinson,

Apologies for not fully answering you query in our previous response.

Operators must ensure fractures remain in the target formation (permitted boundary) and that they do not intersect with natural faults or fissures or other pathways which could lead fluid or gas to migrate into groundwater-bearing strata above the shale.

The environmental permit specifies the formation drilling and fracturing can take place in as well as permit conditions and hydraulic fracture plans requiring operators to monitor the extent of fractures and report this information to us. The operator must also undertake 12 months baseline monitoring of methane in groundwater before any fracking takes place, as well as monitoring during and after the fracking operation.

The Environment Agency must approve the operator’s hydraulic fracture plan before any fracking can take place. The plan will outline how fractures will be monitored and what mitigation measures will be put in place to ensure fractures do not extend beyond the permitted boundary or intersect with existing faults or fissures which might allow the migration of fluid or gas into overlying strata.

Kind regards

Onshore Oil and Gas team

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Dear National Requests,

Thank you for your response dated 13th June 2017 to my request for clarification regarding the prospect of fugitive vertical migration of gases and fluids through fault lines.

You may wish to reconsider the wording of your response. The first sentence in the second paragraph (beginning “The environmental permit specifies…..”) makes little sense. Furthermore, the second sentence in the final paragraph is virtually a repeat of your first paragraph.

Leaving semantics aside, your confidence in your permit conditions, hydraulic fracture plans, and operators’ compliance is laudable. How though do your controls deal with a situation where an area selected for fracking contains many, close knit, and inter-connecting fault lines, running up to the surface (through the shale layer) from a depth of 3km, and there is no clear prior knowledge about the formation pressures involved?

Can you please consider in your answer the need for the fracking operator to make a commercial return by resorting to lateral drilling at different levels in the shale layer in a radial pattern around a well head.

Yours faithfully,

John Wilkinson

National Requests, Environment Agency

Dear Mr Wilkinson

Thank you for your request.

We are treating your enquiry as an Information Request under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004/Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your request will be dealt with by our National Request Team under reference NR50125

The Environment Agency’s obligation under the relevant legislation is to provide you with the requested information within 20 working days from the date your enquiry is received, but we shall endeavour to respond as soon as we can.

In the meantime should you have any queries regarding this request please contact us at: [email address]

Kind regards,

Maria Bisby
Environment Agency
National Requests Team
Part of National Operations
03708 506 506
[email address]

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National Requests, Environment Agency

6 Attachments

Dear Mr Wilkinson,

 

Enquiry regarding onshore oil and gas permit compliance.

 

Thank you for your enquiry which was received on 13 June 2017.

 

We respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and
Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

 

Please find attached response to your enquiry reference NR50125.

 

Please refer to [1]Open Government Licence which explains the permitted
use of this information.

 

With thanks,

 

National Request Team

National Customer Contact Centre - Part of National Operations Services

 

( Tel: 03708 506 506

: Web Site: [2]www.gov.uk/environment-agency

 

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