New Rathlin application disappoints Holderness villagers


Campaign groups in East Yorkshire say they remain opposed to Rathlin Energy’s drilling activities in the county, following the company’s application to extend its operation at an exploratory wellsite

Rathlin has applied for a three-year extension of planning permission at West Newton-A in Holderness, north of Hull. It has already drilled one well on the site and, at a meeting earlier this month, it said it wanted to “retain the option” to drill another. More details

Communities of Holderness Against Onshore Drilling criticised the lack of consultation about the application with local people. In a statement to DrillOrDrop, the group said:

As concerned residents living locally to the well site, while we are unsurprised by the news, we are extremely disappointed that no community consultations have been carried out to inform residents of future developments at West Newton-A”.

“As communities we are united in our opposition to Rathlin Energy UK Ltd and their programme of on shore drilling in Holderness.”

The statement said the group could not overlook incidents in 2014, when the company breached conditions of its environmental permits at West Newton-A. These included a flare releasing gases into the atmosphere because there was insufficient pressure in the well to burn them. The statement said:

“This did make residents affected by noxious odours ill”.

“Rathlin Energy were found by the Environment Agency to have breached permits on 14 occasions and the Health and Safety Executive had cause to investigate two serious incidents. These issues have left communities totally lacking in confidence in Rathlin Energy’s work practices.”

Another group, Hull and East Yorks against extreme energy (HEY Frack Off), has called on Rathlin Energy’s chair, David Montagu-Smith, to apply a promise made in Northern Ireland to East Yorkshire.

The group posted a video of Mr Montagu-Smith in 2012, when he said:

“Our ability to function profitably or commercially in Northern Ireland will depend more heavily on one thing than on any other and that is the support of the local communities in which we work. We also would not be able to function, nor would we try and function, if we are at odds with the local communities.”

Hey Frack Off said:“We call on him to honour that commitment in East Yorkshire.”

Rathlin Energy organises community liaison meetings with representatives of local parishes in Holderness. The minutes of the most recent meeting said: “Rathlin will continue to work with and communicate with local communities in the West Newton area through the now well-established community liaison meetings (involving representatives from all surrounding parishes).”

Rathlin abandons Ballinlea-1

An update on Rathlin’s website confirms that it will soon begin abandoning its Ballinlea-1 well in County Antrim. Rathlin said it had until April 2016 to permanently plug the wellbore and restore the site to its original condition.

The company said the work was expected to take 10-12 weeks. Four to five vehicles an hour were predicted to leave the site peak periods.

Rathlin said well testing in 2009 found non-commercial amounts of oil at Ballinlea-1. The well was retained for research on geothermal energy. But the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland no longer intended to undertake an investigation at the site.

The company has applied to the Northern Ireland Executive to drill a second well at Ballinlea.

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