Fury after councillors approve drilling extension for oil and gas in East Yorkshire

Protestors outside County Hall, Beverley
Protestors outside County Hall, Beverley
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Protestors have vowed to fight on after councillors approved an extension to explore reserves at a gas well near Hull.

East Riding councillors voted six to five in favour of giving another three years to Rathlin Energy (UK) at the West Newton A site, at High Fosham in Holderness.

The company says it is planning to drill a second well at the site "immediately."

As annoyed objectors started to protest, Rathlin’s chairman David Montagu-Smith and his group were hustled out by a side door to a waiting car.

Earlier resident Harry Clark made an impassioned plea to councillors at County Hall, Beverley, saying that coastal erosion on the Yorkshire coast, already one of the fastest eroding in the UK, had sped up due to sea level rise caused by global warming - and now "we are now looking to explore for fossil fuels beneath the Holderness plain."

He said Rathlin's track record at the site was exposed in Environment Agency reports when they drilled the first well more than three years ago: "Air pollution, light pollution, noise pollution, serious vapour pollution, spillages on the road leading to the site. These are all serious incidents as far as locals are concerned."

Although one of the 17 conditions on the planning permission is an anti-fracking clause allowing conventional oil and gas exploration only, many believe there will be fracking of the lower lying shale in future.

Coun Andy Strangeway, who also spoke, told the meeting: "Make no mistake this is for fracking", and alluding to the earthquakes at the Cuadrilla frack site in Preston added: "The committee must not impose earthquakes on East Riding residents."

But Conservative councillor Bryan Pearson, who sits on the committee, said the "fear and threat" of earthquakes was "absolute nonsense."

And another Tory David Rudd said he didn't see "any problem" giving Rathlin another three years, as the conditions on the planning were "adequate to look after the interests of residents."

Jennie Dixon, of Frack Free East Yorkshire, said afterwards they would keep fighting: "I think there's a general misunderstanding of what's going on with extreme energy.

"This isn't the end, we are not going away."