Firm seeks extension for exploratory drilling in East Yorkshire

CAMPAIGNERS are urging people to oppose a bid by energy firm Rathlin Enery UK to extend planning permission for another three years on a potential oil and gas well in Holderness.

A view across the West Newton A wellsite
A view across the West Newton A wellsite

The company, which is owned by Canadian company Connaught, is seeking a further three years to explore reserves at West Newton A, at High Fosham, in Holderness.

There has been no activity at the site for around three years, where the company previously reported discovering a “potentially significant gas field” in the Permian rock layer.

In its latest application Rathlin states that its “confidence in commercial oil and/or gas development in this part of its licence area is very strong.”

It adds: “The applicant still considers it most important to retain the option to drill and test the second well from the West Newton A wellsite and is proposing to vary condition one of the planning consent to extend the life of the wellsite for a further 36 months.”

It says if “economically viable” reserves are found then a further planning application would go to the Minerals Planning Authority seeking permission to produce petroleum.

Explaining the delay in starting work, it said it was partly due to the process of securing permits and approvals, but also due to the downturn in the global gas and oil markets “which affected worldwide investment in the industry.”

But it argues that the UK is now a net importer of oil and gas and additional secure reserves need to be found.

Burton Constable parish council is not objecting. However mid Holderness councillor John Hotlby, who is a farmer, said he could not see any benefit to the area.

Coun Holtby said: “Personally I would rather they weren’t doing it.

“I can’t see any benefit for the area, or the residents at all. I don’t think it will create many jobs as people who work on the site will come from away.

“I would want to be certain that no pollution would be caused by drilling and would rely on the agencies to ensure that there isn’t. I will be encouraging the Environment Agency and the council to ensure there is no pollution.”

Campaigners from Frack Free East Yorkshire argue that fossil fuels contribute to climate change and are urging people to object saying it will cause air pollution, create large numbers of truck movements, and disturbance from noise and light.

They state: “Should we be allowing them more time to explore for yet more fossil fuels, even as the climate breaks down around us, with millions fleeing their homes in the face of raging storms, after a summer of heat waves, and forest fires as far as the Arctic Circle?

“The permission allows Rathlin Energy to explore and test for oil and gas, including drilling a second well, large numbers of HGV movements, noise, light, hazardous chemicals, toxic waste, air pollution from diesel fumes, methane emissions, carbon dioxide, gas flaring, and so on.”

A spokesman for the company stressed that Rathlin “has no intention of drilling for, or fracking for, the unconventional shale layers.” The deepest they would drill would be to 2,000m - 1,000m above the shale.

He added: “Rathlin’s East Riding of Yorkshire Council planning permissions for both the West Newton A and B sites have ‘no fracking conditions..

Shale gas exploration and fracking form no part of Rathlin Energy’s proposed programme of works.”