Environment Agency (EA) response to Friends of the Earth’s challenge to Third Energy’s permit to undertake hydraulic fracturing in Kirby Misperton

The following three items were the proposed grounds for judicial review


1- Third Energy have not provided complete details of air quality monitoring

We have assessed the information submitted by the operator and are satisfied that a sufficient baseline has been established for ambient air quality in and around the Kirby Misperton site in line with the permit pre-operational condition.

In our capacity as regulator, we have also recently undertaken our own ambient air quality monitoring on the Kirby Misperton site.

2- Third Energy have not provided 12 months groundwater monitoring in breach of the environmental permit

Third Energy’s environmental permit requires the operator to submit a minimum of three months groundwater monitoring before hydraulic fracturing can commence. This information has been submitted to us and therefore we are satisfied that the pre-operational condition has been complied with in full.

The Infrastructure Act 2015 requires operators to undertake 12 months methane monitoring of groundwater. We have made it clear to Friends of the Earth that is not a requirement of the environmental permit and it is for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to determine if this condition has been met before issuing the hydraulic fracturing consent to the operator.

3- The Environment Agency has not carried out a Best Available Technique (BAT) assessment before allowing changes to Third Energy’s waste management plan

During the original permit determination we carried out a BAT assessment in relation to the waste management techniques intended for use at the Kirby Misperton site. We would only carry out a further assessment where aspects of an operator’s proposal had substantively changed. Both the re-use and disposal of flowback fluid are already authorised under the permit.

Where it is not possible for the operator to reuse the flowback fluid, for subsequent hydraulic fracturing, we consider that disposal at an offsite permitted treatment facility is BAT.


The letter also raises a concern of high levels of methane that they believe could be a result of Third Energy’s operations at the KM3 well.

  1. believe the incidence of high methane levels in the Corrallian aquifer is far more likely to be attributable to the natural influences of the Kimmeridge Clay formation than it is from any man-made activity. Any claim that the water in the deep Corallian Limestone beneath the site has been impacted by activities from KM3 is a matter of supposition and that the data collected to date does not support this theory.