Oil and gas drilling expansion plans for up to six new wells at Yorkshire site are 'insane', councillor says

A councillor has said plans to explore expanding oil and gas drilling at an East Riding site are “insane”.

Rathlin Energy said in a statement the plans had been drawn up following consultation

Coun Andy Walker, on East Riding Council and the Yorkshire Party’s environment spokesperson, said he was “fundamentally opposed” to plans for up to six new wells at the West Newton site.

The councillor added Rathlin Energy’s plans would come just months after East Riding members backed his motion to declare a climate emergency.

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Rathlin Energy said in a statement the plans had been drawn up following consultation with residents and stakeholders, with proposed vehicle movements cut from 25 to 10 a day.

The company added in plans submitted to the council that locally sourced fossil fuels were needed to guarantee “secure, diverse and sustainable” supplies.

The plans come after Environment Secretary George Eustice ruled they would not require an Environmental Impact Assessment after Mid Holderness ward’s Councillor Jacob Birch wrote to call for one.

Rathlin Energy’s plans would first see the company test the West Newton site, in Fosham Road, High Fosham, currently home to two wells.

Up to six new wells could then be built depending on the extent of oil and gas deposits found there.

The site would then be filled in and restored once the wells reach the end of their estimated 15 to 20 year lifespan.

Company plans stated the oil and gas were needed to help close a “supply gap” forecast for UK fossil fuels, even as consumption as expected to decline.

The plans stated: “There is a continued risk that energy supply gaps for hydrocarbons will remain.

“The UK has a globally recognised reputation in the regulation of oil and gas activities both on shore and off shore, stretching back many decades.

“The development of indigenous hydrocarbon resources not only increases security of supply but also ensures that the UK is not overly dependent on the import and oil and gas from countries with less stringent regulatory regimes.”

But Coun Walker said he “utterly rejected” the notion that locally sourced oil and gas was “better for the planet”.

Coun Walker said: “We have just declared a climate emergency and we’re asked to consider the extraction over decades to come and the transport by road of highly flammable crude oil and the combustion of fresh supplies of fossil fuels, this is just insane.

“I do not blame Rathlin Energy, companies do what companies do which is focus on their share price.

“But I expect our elected council to have our backs, this needs to be rejected once and for all.”