People living near Rathlin Energy’s East Yorkshire oil and gas site have vowed to continue monitoring the company’s activities.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council refused today to drop an eviction order against a group of people who have been reporting round-the-clock on the West Newton well site since January.
The group has established the West Newton Monitoring and Information Station on the grass verge outside the site. It said the official regulators did not have the resources for effective monitoring.
In 2014, observers reported concerns about operations at West Newton, which resulted in the Environment Agency recording at least 14 breaches of conditions of the site’s environmental permit.
This afternoon, Harry Clark, the nearest resident to the well site, urged the full meeting of the council to take into account community support for the monitoring station.
‘In view of the very strong support of very many of the residents of the communities surrounding the well site at West Newton, demonstrated by the receipt of a large number of letters of support and of the admitted lack of resources preventing the Environment Agency – who welcome the monitoring station – and the Health and Safety Executive from providing acceptable levels of site monitoring, would the Leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council please withdraw the eviction order served on the Monitoring and Information Station, located adjacent to the well site at West Newton?”
But Stephen Parnaby, the leader of the council, said the council and Humberside Police were concerned about the safety issues of the encampment outside the well site. He said:
“Due to these safety concerns the council will not withdraw the notice served.”
A letter from the council, dated yesterday, said the tents, caravans and structures must be removed by today.
Mr Clark, who has campaigned against Rathlin’s activities for more than five years, said he was disappointed but not surprised at the council’s response.
“We have seen enough from East Riding of Yorkshire Council to be able to predict the likely outcome today.”
But he said:
“Other legal options are being sought for the monitoring station at West Newton.”
Mr Clark said 50 letters from local people had been sent to the council in support of the monitoring station. He said:
“There are probably about 500 people in the community around the well site who are supporting what is happening. With that support we are hoping we will be able to find an alternative location for the camp.”
Members of the monitoring group said after the meeting:
“We are disappointed that the council has failed to listen to the local community.
“In the time we have been there, there have been no issues to the safety on the highway.
“The council has consistently refused to enter into a dialogue about what these safety issues were and the lack of transparency shows a lack of respect to all involved.
“In contrast, we have recorded several health and safety issues and breaches already by Rathlin Energy.
“The community, together with the monitors, will find a way to continue to hold this company to account. We will not abandon the local community in the way that East Riding Council has.”
The group said it did not want to cost tax payers money for an eviction operation but added “We will find a way to stay there and hold Rathlin Energy to account.”
Last month, Rathlin Energy drilled the conductor pipe for a second oil and gas well at the West Newton well site.
In November 2018, the council narrowly approved a second extension of the site’s planning permission.
Rathlin Energy has until November 2021 to drill and test the second well and restore the site or make a new application for production.
On Thursday 21 February 2019, the West Newton Monitoring and Information Station confirmed that it had moved about 100m away to a new site at Fosham Road.
Reporting from this meeting was made possible by individual donations to DrillOrDrop