Egdon Resources has won an appeal over the right to operate its Wressle wellsite for another year.
The company had challenged the refusal by North Lincolnshire Council in August 2018 to extend consent at the site.
In a decision published yesterday (24 January 2019), the planning inspector, Elizabeth Pleasant, overruled the council.
This is the latest in a series of applications, refusals and appeals involving the Wressle site near Scunthorpe. DrillOrDrop key facts page
The company is also appealing against another refusal of permission for long—term oil production at the site.
Today Egdon welcomed the decision and said the time extension would allow it make pursue this appeal.
The planning inspector said in her decision document that restoration should be undertaken without delay and that it is not acceptable for temporary permissions to be renewed indefinitely.
But she added that government policy required “great weight to be given to the benefits of mineral extraction” in deciding planning applications.
She said this outweighed the conflict with two local planning policies which seek to ensure oil and gas sites are restored after exploration.
Ms Pleasance said, taking account of the planning history of the site, it would be “expedient to grant a further temporary consent”.
She said she appreciated concerns of people about long-term hydrocarbon production at the site, the impacts of climate change and the company’s management record. But she added this was not the concern of the appeal.
She also accepted the council’s concern that the site’s appearance had deteriorated. But she said the site did not have an adverse visual impact on the surroundings or harm the living conditions of local residents.
She allowed Egdon another 12 months of planning consent, to expire on 24 January 2020.
Mark Abbott, managing director of Egdon Resources, said
“We are pleased and encouraged that the Inspector supported our position in relation to this appeal.
“We look forward to a Planning Inspector considering at a public inquiry our appeal against the refusal in November 2018 of our revised development proposals for the Wressle oil field.
“We strongly believe that the new proposals for the development of the Wressle oil field comprehensively addressed the reasons highlighted by the Planning Inspector in his dismissal of our original appeals in January 2018.
“This position was supported by the recommendation for approval given by the Council’s Planning Officer as reinforced by an expert third party review undertaken on behalf of the Council.”
” We plan to submit the appeal documentation in relation to this in the coming week.”
Elizabeth Williams, who opposed the application, said:
“How can we possibly begin to have confidence in the safe running of an inherently hazardous operation when Egdon does not practice timeliness or thorough maintenance of the wellsite in question, which has become more and more derelict.”