Updated: Plans submitted for 20 years of oil production in the South Downs


UK Oil & Gas Investments announced today it had submitted its expected planning application for 20 years of oil production in the South Downs National Park.

The application, which has not yet been published, is for a site at Markwell’s Wood near Rowlands Castle in West Sussex.

Friends of the Earth said it would oppose the application (see Reaction at the end of this post)


Northern Petroleum drilled an exploration well at the site in 2010. Oil was discovered during testing in 2011-2012.

UK Oil and Gas Investments (UKOG) said its application to the national park authority was for conventional oil production. It included:

  • One horizontal appraisal well
  • Up to three further horizontal production wells
  • One water injection well
  • 20 years of oil production

The company said feedback from a public consultation in July had been incorporated into the development design and planning application.

UKOG’s Executive Chairman, Stephen Sanderson, said in a statement:

“This is an important milestone towards monetising the Markwells Wood oil discovery. We look forward to further engaging with stakeholders and to a successful planning outcome.”

UKOG acquired Markwell’s Wood and the exploration licence area, PEDL126, in 2015.

A spokesperson for the South Downs National Park Authority said:

“The application was received today. The normal process if that the application will be checked to make sure all of the components are there. If they are, it will be up on the planning portal within 2 days. If not, we will need to go back to the applicant and ask them to supply any missing elements, which will take longer.”

A public consultation is expected to begin when the application has been validated and published. DrillOrDrop will post details of both the application and the consultation period when they are available.

The application will be decided by the authority’s planning committee. Last year, the Government said it expected decisions on those oil and gas applications that require an Environmental Impact Assessments – like Markwell’s Wood – to be made in 16 weeks.


Friends of the Earth said it was concerned that horizontal wells required extraction techniques that could risk the environment because of the processes, chemicals and pressure used.

Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth South East Regional Campaigner said:

“We believe that oil drilling should simply not be allowed in one of our most precious landscapes.”

“The processes they want to carry out have risks for our environment. We have serious concerns about the techniques needed to get the oil out of horizontal wells and reinjecting the waste water back underground is worrying.”

“Our national parks should be protected for people to enjoy not subject to two decades worth of drilling.”

Local resident Michael Harbour said:

“I regularly cycle on the South Downs and really don’t want to see this kind of industrial blot on the landscape for the next 20 years. This is a tranquil beautiful area that should not be opened up for an oil bonanza.”


UKOG announcement

Updated 21/9/2016 to include reaction

9 replies »

  1. How come this is allowed in a National Park? And if it goes ahead what on earth will this mean for the rest of the environment, as it will surely open up the door to frack anywhere!

    • 1. It’s not fracking
      2. A National park is not a museum, it’s a place with protection. People still work rest and play.

  2. Are they going to “frack”? The article above says it is for conventional oil production. Not, gas, not shale, not shale gas fracking.

  3. I think you’ll find that there are already small conventional oil wells dotted over Southern England, most notably Wych Farm which is close by the Dorset coast, also Singleton in West Sussex, Bletchingley in Surrey, Stockbridge in Hampshire etc, all been there years and mostly good neighbours in their area and causing no more disturbance than any other small industrial concern. Any industrial development is probably not what we want in an AONB but I think, as evidenced by Mrs May’s concerns about Hinkley, UK energy security will be an important consideration which will outweigh the concern about new development.

  4. The well head at Storrington may just be outside the SDNP although the oil is to the south.
    link to wells; and then add well “layer”

  5. Fracking, oil extraction, or hydraulic squeezing, once the process is started, what is to stop the switch between methods? it is an incursion into a National Park, whether the extraction is under a park is irrelevant, its just playing with words. Its a precedent and therefore should not be allowed under any circumstances. The threat is just the same. Where are the gold standards now?

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s