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.”
Updated 21/9/2016 to include reaction