Energy company denies its lorries will pass through Yorkshire village roads every 14 minutes if it expands oil and gas drilling operation

An energy company has denied plans to expand oil and gas drilling would lead to one lorry passing through East Riding village roads every 14 minutes following claims from environmentalists.

A lorry at the West Newton site (Credit: Rathlin Energy)

A spokesperson for Rathlin Energy, owner of the West Newton oil and gas well, said it already agreed to cut HGV trips from 25 to 10 a day.

They added the cut followed a review consultations with locals on its plans for the site’s expansion recently lodged with East Riding Council.

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But environmental campaign group Fossil Free East Yorkshire commissioned an independent study into the plans which claimed they were “fundamentally flawed”.

The group stated thousands of lorries would be needed to move oil and gas from the site to refineries, fuelling HGV traffic and endangering users of small rural roads.

Its study, by KVA Planning Consultancy, worked on the assumption that up to 25 vehicles a day would travel to and from the site.

The dispute comes after Rathlin Energy lodged plans to expand the site, in Fosham Road, High Fosham, which were validated by council officers in June.

The plans would see the company first run tests on oil and gas deposits below the site, currently home to wells, to explore their extent.

Up to six new wells could then be built depending on deposits’ size, with the site restored at the end of its 15 to 20 year forecast life span.

Rathlin Energy previously stated the expansion was needed to help close a “supply gap” in domestically produced fossil fuels, even as consumption is expected to decline.

But the plans have seen Conservative East Riding Mid-Holderness ward’s Councillor Jacob Birch writing to Environment Secretary George Eustice to order an Environmental Impact Assessment which the minister ruled out.

Councillor Andy Walker, ward member for Bridlington South and Yorkshire Party environment spokesperson, branded the plans “insane” in light of the council’s climate emergency declaration.

Fossil Free East Yorkshire stated the council’s Planning Committee should vote the expansion down over the traffic and environmental concerns.

The group stated: “It is quite clear from the frightening increase in news reports detailing the climate catastrophe that we need to stop burning fossil fuels for our very survival and stop drilling for more.

“The head of the UN says so, the International Energy Agency says so, and UK government policy says so.

“And yet here is a planning application for major new oil drilling right here in the East Riding.

“Now this report, by independent planning consultants, exposes just how flawed and incomplete this planning application is, especially when it comes to the huge increase in traffic, and spells out exactly how and why it should be refused.”

But Rathlin Energy’s spokesperson said the study did not take into account that tanker trips would be less than the original 25 proposed.

The spokesperson said: “Rathlin Energy has submitted a planning application supported by eight technical assessments, all of which were produced by qualified professionals in their respective fields.

“The application was validated by East Riding Council’s planning team in June this year.

“To clarify, the planning application stated the reduced number of 10 vehicles per day during production rather than the originally proposed 25 vehicles.

“This figure was reduced after internal technical review and public consultation on the proposals.

“Net Zero does not mean that we will not use hydrocarbons in the future, they are used in most of the manufactured products we see around us as well as fuel for aviation and shipping, pharmaceuticals and PPE.

“Our dependence on hydrocarbons means that we cannot easily replace them over night.

“The Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget outlines the government’s path to Net Zero and this project is line with the budget for oil and gas production.”