Research by Frack Free North Yorkshire (FFNY) has revealed potential plans by fracking firm Third Energy to install a gas pipeline and associated infrastructure on land directly adjacent to Rains Farm, the property owned by pro-fracking spokesperson Lorraine Allanson, founder of ‘Friends of Ryedale Gas Exploration’. This highlights a possible conflict of interest which calls into question the independence of Mrs Allanson, who has been forthright in her opinions on fracking in Yorkshire.
The research begins in February 2012, when Third Energy submitted a scoping application for as gas processing facility and additional pipelines to the North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC).
The initial proposals for the controversial project included the construction of a new gas pipeline linking Third Energy’s Knapton Power station to the existing national gas grid. The new pipeline would be linked to the existing ‘national transmission system’ (NTS) via a ‘hot tap’ connection and other related infrastructure at Allerston Lane in Ryedale.
For an explanation of what a ‘hot tap’ is, please see this video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHAnv3W-mZE
The proposed scheme would allow Third Energy to pump the gas extracted from well sites such as Kirby Misperton, Ebberston Moor and future gas wells in the area directly onto the grid via the new pipeline and connection at Allerston Lane. If large quantities of gas are extracted within Third Energy licence blocks, this could become very lucrative for the stakeholders involved.
It is unlikely that Third Energy would submit such a request without discussing this with neighbouring land and property owners.
Please see below for the scoping opinion document from Third Energy’s consultants, Barton Willmore.
As part of the ‘scoping opinion’ process Third Energy were required to submit a detailed map showing the route of the new pipeline. An annotated extract of the map can be found below.
The proposed pipeline route would be routed directly under Rains Farm in Allerston, Ryedale, which is also in close proximity to the location of Mrs Allanson successful bed and breakfast business. This route would require the construction of a ‘hot tap’ connection and an ‘above ground installation’ (AGI) on land directly next to the B&B.
Third Energy would be required to seek permission from the land owner and agree terms and conditions with the land owner before laying the pipeline and connecting the ‘hot tap above ground installation’ to the NTS pipeline.
In previous projects, such as Third Energy’s KM8 application in Kirby Misperton, a fee was believed to have been paid to the land owners by Third Energy for access to build a well pad and drill for gas.
According to documentation obtained via the Land Registry, Rains Farm is also subject to a ‘Deed of Grant’ to the Gas Council. However, the Land Registry titles also confirm that land within the boundary of Rains Farm has been sold off by the Allanson family in 1994.
The February 2012 scoping document also states the following;
“The proposed pipeline required from Knapton Gas Station direct to the closest point of the national Transmission System would be 4.0km in length (2.5 miles). This would also require the construction of a ‘hot-tap’ above ground installation/connection at Allerston Lane to feed the treated gas into the National Transmission System (NTS) (Subject to agreement with National Grid)
Interestingly, in 2014, NYCC granted planning permission to Third Energy for the gas processing plant and a pipeline, but this didn’t include permission for the connection onto the NTS (Gas grid). We have not been able to ascertain why Third Energy omitted the pipeline from the application.
However, in February 2016, the connection onto the NTS gas pipeline was back on Third Energy’s agenda again. According to meeting notes between representatives from Third Energy and Husthwaite Parish Council, Third Energy confirmed that the connection onto existing gas network was part of the company’s strategy.
The meeting notes dated 06/02/16 state:
“if they have sufficient gas, the plan will be to pipe that into either the NTS (national transmission system) gas grid, or the LTS (local transmission system) for North Yorkshire. Either way, they will sell gas which is in excess of what they can use at Knapton.”
Until Third Energy submit a planning application for the new pipeline and connection onto the NTS, we will not be able to fully ascertain the routing of the pipeline and the exact location of the associated infrastructure.
Mrs Allanson has not declared during any of her many presentations on behalf of the fracking industry this possible conflict of interest, so there is a possibility that Third Energy didn’t consult her regarding a pipeline under Rains Farm or the infrastructure that could be cited close to her property on Allerston Lane.
However, the information available to date does raise serious concerns regarding the independence of Mrs Allanson, who published a statement on the FORGE Facebook page on the 3rd January 2017 stating that she has “never been paid” by the fracking industry:
FFNY requests that Mrs Allanson reads the research published above and answers the following key questions;
***UPDATE*** – A response was received from FORGE to the 4 questions below and the answers have been provided in full bellow;
1.Was Mrs Allanson aware of Third Energy’s 2012 scoping application, which included plans for installing an underground pipeline, and the construction of above ground infrastructure adjacent to her property?
A – No, not at all.
2. If so, Did Mrs Allanson enter into any discussions with Third Energy regarding this scoping application prior to it being submitted to North Yorkshire County Council?
A – Not applicable as I had no knowledge of the scoping application.
3. Has Mrs Allanson ever entered into any discussions or contractual arrangements with Third Energy regarding any future access to her property to allow the company to install an underground pipeline and associated infrastructure?
A – No, never, no one in my family have ever had any discussions at all, EVER in all their years at the farm withn any gas companies or their representatives.
4. If so, what fees would Mrs Allanson receive to allow Third Energy access to her property to conduct the proposed work?
A – Not applicable as no discussions have ever taken place.
Link to PDF of Scoping opinion – https://onlineplanningregister.northyorks.gov.uk/register/PlanAppDisp.aspx?recno=8351
Link to detail map provided by Viking Gas – https://onlineplanningregister.northyorks.gov.uk/register/PlanAppDisp.aspx?recno=8351
Link to NYCC response to the Scoping agreement – https://onlineplanningregister.northyorks.gov.uk/register/PlanAppDisp.aspx?recno=8351
Huswaithe parish – site visit notes – http://husthwaitevillage.com/user/files/brw.pdf
PDF of the map referenced above – Proposed-Layout-Plan