About 10 police officers supported the eviction of a camp that had been monitoring operations at Rathlin Energy’s oil exploration site at West Newton in East Yorkshire.
People living near the site had appealed to the council last week (20 February 2019) to drop the eviction plans. But the council leader, Stephen Parnaby, told a meeting of the authority in Beverley: “Due to safety concerns the council will not withdraw the notice served.” (DrillOrDrop report)
The camp was established to monitor work at the West Newton, where Rathlin Energy has permission to drill and test a second well. During testing of the first well in 2014, observers reported concerns which resulted in the Environment Agency recording at least 14 breaches of conditions of the environmental permit.
The monitoring group said they believed the official regulators did not have the resources for effective checks on operations.
On 21 February 2019, the group confirmed it had moved the equipment, tents and caravans to a new roadside location on Fosham Road.
But this morning enforcement officers working for the council evicted the new camp.
A statement from the authority said:
“East Riding of Yorkshire Council has serious road safety concerns about the encampment at West Newton.
“The safety of road users and the safety of individuals at this encampment is our top priority.
“These are narrow, unclassified roads with no road markings and are used regularly by farm machinery and heavy goods vehicles.
“Cars and caravans parked on the sides of these narrow roads cause obstructions and visibility issues for drivers and therefore increase the danger of accidents.
“Because of these safety concerns, the council served notice on 15 January, under sections 143 and 149 of the Highways Act 1980, requesting the removal of all caravans, tents, wooden huts and other items from the roadside as soon as possible, but no later than 20 February.
“Last week, however, the vehicles, caravans and other items were moved to an even narrower stretch of road nearby, thereby posing an even greater danger to the people themselves and to other road users.
“Today the council and police took appropriate action to remove all vehicles and items from this area.
“This action was taken under the emergency procedure contained in section 149(2) of the Highways Act 1980.”
One person was arrested during the eviction on suspicion of breach of the peace, possession of offensive weapon, affray and obstructing police. But police decide to take no further action because there was insufficient evidence.
Last week, West Newton Monitoring and Information Station vowed to find a way to continue to monitor operations at the exploration site. This post will be updated with reaction from the monitoring group when we have it.