Campaigners against drilling for oil and gas in East Yorkshire are urging councillors to refuse permission for another three years at a well site in the county.
Rathlin Energy has asked East Riding of Yorkshire Council for another 36 months to operate the West Newton-A site in Holderness, north of Hull.
This is the second time the company has sought an extension of the planning permission, originally granted in 2013.
No operational work has been carried out at West Newton-A since autumn 2014. Rathlin Energy blamed delays in the regulatory process at another site and previously low oil and gas prices. It told the council the extra three years would allow it to drill a second well at West Newton-A.
Planning officers at the council have recommended the application should be approved when it is discussed at a meeting in Beverley this afternoon. A report to the council’s planning committee said there were no planning reasons to refuse the application.
But there have been more than 100 objections, including those from local parish councils at Withernwick and Ellerby.
Jennie Dixon of Frack Free East Yorkshire said:
“Rathlin Energy wants to see if it can extract from under a large area of East Yorkshire including the rural areas around Beverley and Holderness and as far west as South Cave.
“We have been warned that we need to stop using fossil fuels as soon as possible if we want to avoid climate catastrophe which could hit Hull and East Yorkshire hard. So looking for more gas and oil, as Rathlin wants to do, is the last thing we need.
“East Yorkshire needs clean fields not gas fields so we call on East Riding Council to reject this application.”
The previous permission at West Newton-A included a condition preventing hydraulic fracturing. But campaigners have said they are also concerned that Rathlin might in future want to use hydrochloric acid to extract gas and oil.
Ms Dixon said:
“The government has created its own definition of hydraulic fracturing, which is so tight it effectively means that a company can use extreme extraction and say it is ‘not fracking’.”
She said East Riding Council should consider other definitions, as North Yorkshire County Council had, based on pressure and fracturing of rocks, rather than solely on volume.
DrillOrDrop reported earlier this month on Rathlin Energy’s annual accounts for 2017. The statement with the accounts from auditors KPMG said debts of almost £34 million “constitute a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern”.
Wendy Cross, of Frack Free East Yorkshire, asked:
“Is this the sort of company we want to be drilling in East Yorkshire? We don’t want the council and taxpayers to be left to clean up Rathlin’s mess. The company needs to show that it has the funds to complete any work or pay for any damage that it causes.”
Rathlin has said it planned to settle the outstanding loans through share issues, equity financing and farm-in agreements.
- DrillOrDrop will be reporting from today’s planning meeting. 2pm, County Hall, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Beverley HU17 9BA. Link to agenda