New bid for 20 years of oil production in South Downs National Park due soon


As expected, the company behind the so-called Gatwick Gusher oil well in Surrey, has confirmed it is preparing to submit a planning application for oil production in the South Downs National Park.

UK Oil & Gas Investments PLC has put up legal notices (see above) around its wellsite at Markwells Wood in West Sussex alerting people that a planning application will be submitted to the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA).

The application is described as “appraisal and production of oil for a 20-year period” at the site at Forestside, near Rowlands Castle.

Advance warning of mineral applications is required under  Article 13 of The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015. (DrillorDrop understands the Markwells Wood notice quotes an earlier order, which has since been superseded).

Under the order, minerals developers must give 21 days notice of a formal planning application to landowners and tenants of land under which they want to work.

The notice for Markwells Wood said the plans can be viewed from tomorrow (Friday 9 September 2016) until Friday 30 September 2016 at the South Downs Centre in Midhurst. This does not replace the formal public consultation on the application (see below).

The application

The South Downs National Park Authority confirmed this afternoon that UKOG had not yet submitted the application but it was expected very soon.

When this happens, it must be validated by planners at the authority. This means the company has completed the application form, met national and local requirements on information and paid the correct fee.

The application will then be posted on the authority’s planning website and open for public comments. The consultation period usually lasts at least three weeks but can be six weeks or more.

DrillOrDrop will report on the contents of the application when it becomes public.


The Markwells Wood well was drilled by Northern Petroleum to a depth of 1,397m in 2010. Core samples indicated the presence of oil and the well was tested for six months in 2011-2012. More details

In 2015, UK Oil and Gas Investments (UKOG) acquired a 100% stake in the well and the surrounding petroleum exploration licence area, PEDL126.

The company announced it was working on a field development plan for Markwells Wood  to exploit the Jurassic Great Oolite limestone reservoir. The proposals included a side-track development well, which is expected to be in the planning application when published.

In July 2016, the SDNPA required UKOG to carry out an environmental impact assessment of the proposal. The SDNPA argued there could be significant effects on the environment, including generating extra traffic, producing significant volumes of waste and releasing pollutants to air, land and water. More details The environmental impact assessment will be published alongside the planning application.

The first term of PEDL126 was due to expire on 30 June 2016 but the Oil and Gas Authority extended it for a year until 30 June 2017.

Drilling in the South Downs

IGas operates six oil and gas wells at Singleton in the National Park in West Sussex. The company also has three wells at Storrington, also in West Sussex, where planning permission for oil production runs until 31 December 2017. The Horndean oil field, to the east of Markwells Wood, is just outside the park boundary.


5 replies »

  1. Still no sign of application although others submitted on the 9th have been included in the database. I use “Dean Lane” when searching as Markwells does not show up all previous applications.
    SDNP/16/03912/SCOPE and SDNP/16/03075/SCREEN are two of them.

    • Hi Mike. Thanks for your comment and for the advice about the search term, which is very helpful. I’ll check again with the National Park about whether it has been submitted. The application has to be validated after submission before it goes online. I’ll keep checking and update this post when the application is public.

    • The latest from the South Downs National Park Authority (morning of 15 September 2016) is that it has not yet received the application but is expecting it very soon.

  2. How depressing! Even National parks are not safe from the greedy, self serving frackers and politicians. Why don’t they wise up and go study so they can get up to date with the latest technology for clean and green energy! Perhaps they actually enjoy destroying areas of natural beauty. Frack the Sahara but not a small, overpopulated island for crying out loud! Some of us have to live here!

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