Protests fail to stop drilling work near village

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An energy company has been given the go-ahead to carry out exploratory drilling near an East Riding village, despite protests.

Rathlin Energy UK (Ltd)’s plans to drill up to two wells for oil or gas just outside Walkington were approved at a meeting of East Riding Council’s planning committee.

A seismic survey carried out last January found up to six potential reservoirs, between a depth of 1100m and 2500m.

Villagers were concerned about drilling through an underground aquifer which supplies much of the region’s drinking water.

Despite the company’s repeated denials, some residents remained concerned about the use of a technique called “fracking” to extract gas from underground rocks.

Yesterday an extra condition was added to those already attached to the planning permission that fracking would not be used.

The company, a subsidiary of Canada-based Connaught Oil and Gas Ltd, says drilling will be done in the same manner as other wells in the county. They will protect the aquifer by installing steel and concrete casing in the well to a depth below sea level - below the depth of the local aquifer.

Villager Nicky Dunning said: “This is a bad day for the village – we will have to live with this for years if they make a mistake.

“We just hope and pray East Riding Council monitor the situation closely. The councillors voted for a condition that fracking wouldn’t be used, which is a relief.”

Jonathan Foster, of Bridlington-based Moorhouse Drilling and Completions, which will construct the site, design the well and supervise the drilling, said they’d proposed the extra condition to reassure people: “We are pleased with the result, the onus is on us now to demonstrate to people that we will do exactly what we said we were going to do.”

They are hoping to start construction at the site in the Spring and initial test drilling will take between five and 10 weeks.

The company had argued that the North Sea oil fields were gradually depleting, having peaked in 1999. They said it was “imperative” that the supply was maintained and additional reserves of oil and gas found.