Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 4, 2016

The Geophysical Survey In Halsall

Readers will recall the article on this website a week ago, describing the appalling pursuit by Aurora of rights to gain access to private land to enable geophysical surveying, and the equally determined pursuit by Labour Candidate for Halsall Maureen Mills maureenm to discover the legality of it all.

We can report on the latest news, that negotiations on access rights are under way and consequently the referral to the courts is on hold. Maureen Mills received this reply below.

Dear Ms Mills

Thank you for your email of 5th April 2016 to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) requesting confirmation of the outcome of Aurora Energy Resources Limited’s application for ancillary rights under the Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act 1966 (the “Mines Act”).

Your email does not contain a request for recorded information held by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Where a ‘request for information’ does not contain a specific request for copies of information held by DECC, we deal with such requests as a ‘normal course of business’ enquiry rather than a formal request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

The Secretary of State is required under the Mines Act to refer an application to the court for determination where she considers a prima facie case has been made. Please be aware that a reference to the court does not prejudge the application. The prima facie case test is a procedural step in order to enable the applicant to bring a case before the court. The Secretary of State’s role is therefore a screening role rather than a determinative one.

In relation to Aurora’s application, I can inform you that the [Brexit enthusiast] Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom leadbrexit (on behalf of the Secretary of State) concluded that a prima facie case had been made by the applicant in relation to three of the four landowners. She therefore concluded that it was appropriate to refer the matter to the court for determination (in respect of these three landowners). This was communicated to Aurora and the landowners.

However, subsequent to communicating this to Aurora and the landowners, we were informed that negotiations on access rights between the relevant landowners and Aurora had started to take place. In light of this change in circumstances, it was considered appropriate to put the referral of the matter to the court on hold for a short period to allow progression of these negotiations.

Yours sincerely,
Department of Energy and Climate Change

Meanwhile, residents of Halsall are unaware that the sitting borough councillor and Conservative candidate might be remotely interested or concerned in the outcome of this matter.


  1. Well done Maureen and thank you for the effort put in on behalf of the residents of Halsall. If only our present (and hopefully soon departing) Borough Councillor would make a similar effort!

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