Officials investigate Sunday working complaints at Broadford Bridge oil site

BB 171022 WOW

Broadford Bridge oil site, 22 October 2017. Photo: Weald Oil Watch

Council officers are investigating complaints of Sunday working at the Broadford Bridge oil exploration site in West Sussex.

Residents reported operations at the site near Billingshurst on the past two Sundays, allegedly in breach of the planning permission.  They said they saw a crane head moving above the trees and heard sounds from moving vehicles and machinery. Similar complaints were made in August.

A condition of the planning permission for Broadford Bridge restricts work to Monday-Friday and Saturday morning, except during the 24-hour drilling phase which is now over. The reason given for the condition is to “protect the amenities of occupiers of nearby residential properties.”

Broadford Bridge dcision extract

Extract from the decision notice of the Broadford Bridge planning permission

A spokesperson for West Sussex County Council confirmed there had been four complaints about working on the site on 22 and 29 October 2017. The spokesperson said:

“WSCC is investigating the complaints and will determine how to proceed once we have further details.”

Drone footage of Broadford Bridge site, 29 October 2017, showing crane head rise. Video: Weald Oil Watch

“Safety management reasons”

UK Oil & Gas Investments plc, the parent company of the site operator, told DrillOrDrop:

“We have reviewed our activity on site at Broadford Bridge on Sunday October 22 and Sunday October 29.

“On October 22 we were finishing off an operation which had begun a few days earlier and needed to be completed for well safety reasons. The crane was in use and we can confirm that noise levels were extremely low.

“On October 29 we were in the middle of some well intervention work which had also been started prior to the Sunday and needed to be finished for safety management reasons. Again, noise levels were very low.

“We have been in very regular communication with West Sussex County Council. They are fully aware of our activities.”

When asked about the safety issues, the spokesperson said:

“They were simply ongoing activities which could not be suddenly terminated without detriment to our health and safety standards.”

“Mockery of conditions”

Broadford Bridge Action Group, which has campaigned against activities at the site, said:

“UKOG openly admits to working out of permitted operating hours because there is no penalty for them doing so.

“This makes a mockery of the conditions of operation and further confirms that the regulatory authorities are not fully regulating activities on site.

“Their relationship is far too cosy and that’s not in the interests of local taxpayers.”

After the complaints in August, West Sussex County Council told residents the matter had been investigated and there had been no significant or long-term harm.

The council said it would “overcome matters” without taking formal action if that was possible. The authority said it would not prioritise what it called “technical breaches” that it did not regard had caused harm.

30 replies »

  1. Perhaps a foolish question but couldn’t they have planned the work so that there was no chance of it having to be completed on a Sunday i.e. allowing sufficient time plus contingency? Unless they are understating that this was an unforeseen emergency, their statement reads along the lines that we started something that we couldn’t finish in time so carried on. If this was foreseeable and wasn’t a genuine, reactive emergency, then I’m afraid this is the industry yet again showing complete disregard for locals and planning conditions.

  2. John, you obviously want to force the share price down for your own motives. Who knows what your motives are, maybe speculation?

    Perhaps there is some work to be done on site because there is so much oil that extra work becomes necessary? (That should compensate for your attempts.)

    It is well known the Weald contains oil which will not be straight forward to extract. It does not dictate that it can’t, or will be dangerous to do so, and it certainly does not dictate that fracking will be required.

    I would like this exploration to be done properly and safely, and if it requires a little extra work, so be it. Your own speculation regarding reasons is a little pointless. There will shortly be an RNS which will have to explain events. No disrespect John, but I can be patient for facts rather than feed off speculation.

  3. KatT-not a foolish question, but one that does not reflect the reality of this type of exploration. I know it is very tempting to speculate about all the problems that may have arisen. Equally, you could suggest that the work force had a curry that caused unforeseen reactions and so work planned against a full compliment ended up with half a work force having to take more regular comfort breaks.
    As I stated to John, the details are still being investigated, so we could fill DOD with speculation, but I suspect we would all be wide of the mark.

    • KatT, it’s as you say a matter of planning and scheduling, the excuse for the breach of Sunday working, if not an emergency is simply laziness, even if the excuse is safety, that is just bad or absent planning.

      If you look at the previous page, that explains why such breaches do not happen in certain countries abroad.
      Essentially it’s about how big the penalty is. These corporations don’t work by anything other than expediency. Money talks, nothing else matters.
      There is no active or restrictive regulatory penalty here, its all empty unenforced rhetoric, so the operators laugh and are totally contemptuous of such minor issues of working time regulatory directive conditions, or apparently of any regulatory conditions at all?
      Do that in say Saudi Arabia and you will find yourself very quickly arrested, badly beaten up and summarily executed by decapitation in public by the religious police.
      Your colleagues will be dragged to the public execution square to witness it. Believe me I know this.

      It’s really simple and explains everything.
      Big penalties, particularly arrest and capital punishment, tends to concentrate the mind and regulate the working practices.
      Big penalty? No breach. No penalty? Who cares? Do what you want.
      “do what thou wilt shall be all the law.”
      Without penalties this will continue to the point where no regulations are observed at all or even recognised as relevant.
      The existing injunction and injunctions to come will even prevent anyone raising the subject without fear of arrest and imprisonment and confiscation of property.
      This is the total opposite to what is required to support regulations, it’s in fact a complete reversal of any rational regulatory incentive, it effectively gives the operators Carte Blanche to do what they want.
      Look at USA, Australia, Canada, and soon it will be the same here, utter operational and environmental chaos.

  4. A crane was seen The crane was probably on hire and time is money.
    What is wrong with this Country, everyone want’s everything but not happy about anything.
    Maybe they should shut the shops and petrol stations on a Sunday too.

  5. Jason-it is simply laziness. Many people on this site are anti-capitalists-ie. dreamers who whinge about the capitalist system and keep dreaming a better system, but fail continuously to make progress, so they do not enjoy progress, per se. Some of the others are anarchists who really are just even lazier anti-capitalists, who can’t even be bothered to try and come up with an alternative system. The internet provides a platform and some believe it really is real life, but it is a fantasy world, and eventually real life returns. What makes me smile, is when it does there are shrieks akin to vampires finding sunshine.

  6. Glad your beliefs make you smile Martin. That’s a very honest breakdown of your personal mythology and belief system. We’re in a country where we are taught not to deny other’s beliefs and I respect that too. The issue comes when you mistake your beliefs for the truth and see no other possibilities.

  7. Why state something that your previous posts totally deny PhilipP? Do you think others suffer from dementia and quite forget you posting your beliefs, some of which are based upon factually false information? Remember how fracking in US was not successful, and the Barclays Brothers were going to get a rough deal at Third Energy (twice)?
    I will do my research (unlike some) and if that research shows a pretty conclusive picture, yes, it will influence me. If others are too lazy to do the same but then falsely claim a knowledgeable high-ground that is their choice. That is not aimed as a personal attack, it is a comment about a general approach by quite a wide group.

    Talking of which, reference all the nonsense economics trotted out by the antis and how alternatives are a much better bet economically, perhaps you might have noted the most recent report about Tesla cash drain? It really makes a company like Cuadrilla or UKOG look like the Bank of England, when Tesla are losing $billions and missing recovery targets, yet their owner is living high off the hog-with or without Shiraz. Goodness, must be a Ponzi scheme, shame for the investors-greedy capitalists deserve everything they get. (The full text can be found easily, so I will not help with that as it would only encourage laziness.) Yes, investors and supporters of Tesla may EVENTUALLY see a return, but no greater chance of that then investors and supporters of Cuadrilla or UKOG.

    I do see other possibilities, but I do look at their downsides as well as their upsides.

    • Dear me Martin. How many times have you fabricated that ‘fact’. If you believe I have once pointed to US fracking being commercially unsuccessful then simply point to it with a link, so I can see how your interpretation works (or doesn’t). I have never made that point and your inventiveness when it comes to such ‘truths’ is a concern. Your ‘certainties’ are anything but certain and increasingly come across like a record player stuck in the groove. Meanwhile you cherry pick a blip in Tesla’s finances and unleash an absurd blanket assumption about its fortunes – no doubt an attempt at parodying the kinds of assumptions we ‘anti’s’ make (as if we’re all of one mind, which we certainly are not – another mistake you make constantly).

  8. Martin you know sometimes I agree with you. Not been a big fan of electric cars, no adequate infrastructure planned as far as I can see to support it. However I’ve seen enough research and video footage to inform me that fracking is not what we need. Instead we need an energy department that is not headed up by someone like Lord Prior who was involved with fracking in Poland, but by someone with the expertise to do right by our country. Taking into account our planets needs as well as infrastructure, investment and sustainability.

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