The oil company, Egdon Resources, should get another three years to drill an exploration well at North Kelsey in Lincolnshire, planners have recommended.
The company was granted planning permission in 2014 to construct a well site and drill and test the borehole. But it failed to do more than begin work on the site access before the deadline of December 2017.
Egdon blamed a low oil price, the withdrawal of a partner and delays at another oil site at Wrestle near Scunthorpe.
The company’s application to extend permission until December 2020 will be discussed by Lincolnshire councillors next week.
In a report to the county council’s planning committee, officers have recommended the application be approved, despite opposition from local councillors and some residents.
The report concluded:
“Subject to the development continuing to be carried out in accordance with the conditions attached to the original permission, the proposed extension of time is considered acceptable and can be supported.”
Some opponents of the application have urged the council to limit the extension to one year. The company had said that the duration of the project is a total of 49 weeks. But it said drilling rigs of the type needed for the proposed well were not freely available and usually required a long lead time:
“owing to the nature of the oil and gas industry and as construction has not been completed, Egdon is seeking to extend the existing planning permission for a further three years.”
The site, between Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Market Rasen, is on farmland at the end of a single-track road. Egdon proposes four phases of work:
- Construction of the drill site- 6-7 weeks
- Drilling using a 50m rig – 8 weeks
- Testing – 28 weeks
- Restoration – 6 weeks
Egdon Resources has an 80% stake in exploration licence PEDL241, the area in which the site is based. The other partner is Union Jack Oil. The licence was awarded in 2008 and has seen no drilling for oil for 20 years.
The planners’ report said the application was opposed by North Kelsey and South Kelsey and Moortown Parish Councils, along with two local county councillors and 34 residents. They raised concerns about:
- Number of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)
- Competence of the company
- Egdon’s failure to communicate with local residents
- No value to local community
- Threat to wildlife and habitat
- Inadequate bunds to prevent spills and pollution
- Impacts on health
- Noise and light pollution
- No need for onshore exploration
- Lack of clear information on waste disposal
- Poor record of self-regulation
The report said there were no objections from the Environment Agency, Highways Authority, Network Rail or West Lindsey District Council.
No comments were made by Natural England, the Environmental Health Officer at West Lindsey District Council, Anglian Water, Lincolnshire Police, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust or the Ministry of Defence.
The report’s author said Egdon was not proposing to change its previously permitted operations beyond extending the time limit.
“the Mineral Planning Authority is only required to consider the question of the proposed amended/varied condition(s) and so is not required to reconsider the principle or acceptability of the development itself.”
The report said planners were satisfied that the time extension would not breach local planning policies.
Other conditions on the original permission included:
- No site preparation works involving destruction or removal of vegetation from March-August unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Mineral Planning Authority;
- Limits on the hours that HGVs can enter and leave the site
- Limits on site operating hours
- Day and night-time limits on noise during construction and drilling
Lincolnshire County Council’s planning committee will discuss the application on Monday 9 April 2018 from 10.30am at the Council Chamber, County Offices, Newland, Lincoln LN1 1YL. Link to agenda