Study of ‘ancient village’ needed before work starts on Rathlin’s new well site

West Newton B trenching 1

Archaeological trenches dug at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-B site

Rathlin Energy has confirmed it cannot begin work on its second oil and gas site at West Newton, north of Hull, until there has been an archaeological survey of what could be an ancient village.

The company was granted planning permission in June 2015 to drill and test two wells and build an access track at the site, known as West Newton-B, near Burton Constable.

But no site work has yet been carried out and Rathlin has not set a date for construction to start.

A geophysical survey on West Newton-B four years ago concluded that features under the ground could belong to a medieval village. But they could date back to Roman or prehistoric times.

Rathlin Energy’s operations engineer, Caroline Foster, told residents last week that some trial trenches had been dug on the site.

But she said the company had not yet complied with a condition on archaeology in the planning permission.

Before work can start, the condition requires Rathlin to strip ploughed soil from the site, then investigate, record and recover archaeological remains.

DrillOrDrop reported on the geophysical survey of the West Newton-B site in 2015. This revealed potential archaeological features across the proposed wellsite and access track.

It concluded:

“[These] most likely represent field boundaries and other anthropogenic features of an unknown date.”

It also said:

“To the north of the site are earthworks that belong to the medieval village of West Newton, and it possible that the linear features identified by the survey relate to this, although it is equally plausible that they are of earlier date.”

Archaeologists have reported that the Holderness landscape was settled by early people up to 10,000 years ago. Research has revealed Iron Age, Romano-British and Anglo-Scandinavian settlements, as well as Bronze Age barrows and Mesolithic flint-knapping sites.

Drilling details

West Newton B location Rathlin Energy

Location of site (red triangle) and access track.

Details of plans for the West Newton-B project were given to members of the community liaison group, comprising residents and local representatives.

Rathlin Energy said it planned to drill to about 2,100m to target the Kirkham Abbey and Cadeby reservoirs. It said it would not drill into the Bowland shale, at about 3,000m and there were no plans for high volume hydraulic fracturing.

The meeting heard that the Environment Agency had granted consent for drilling and drill stem tests. But the permit would need to be varied to include an extended well test and flaring.

Before drilling could start, Rathlin said it would also need to get consent to drill from the Oil & Gas Authority. It would have to notify the Health and Safety Executive and the Coal Authority. The design of the well would be submitted for approval to the Environment Agency.

Site construction work was expected to take about 12 weeks, the company said. It described as “ambitious” suggestions by an investor in the scheme that site work would start in the first quarter of 2020, drilling in second quarter and testing in the third quarter.

The meeting was told the access track would be built across farmland from Pasture Lane up to Crook Lane and Engine Lane and then onto the site. Water monitoring boreholes, required by the Environment Agency permit, may be drilled before site construction work began, the company added.

The route for traffic would be through Bilton and Wyton to Sproatley then towards Aldbrough before going towards Humbleton and Pasture Lane, the company also said..

Under the planning permission, work must start by June 2020.

  • Rathlin Energy also explained why testing had been suspended at its other local site, West Newton-A site. It said there was no enough energy in the wellbore to recover reservoir fluids to the surface. The operation needed a pump, and this, in turn, would need a review of the site’s environmental permit. This was expected to take about two months, Rathlin said.

18 replies »

  1. Could be a settlement for lubricating axles of chariots and carts!

    Discovery of an ancient oily rag could send the share price through the roof.

  2. Yep, WD, just like pumps needed in S.Yorkshire.

    You know, the ones that will be run on diesel and used to dry out some homes, and to prevent others from being flooded.

    Perhaps better to just rely on buckets?

  3. Another headline which is factually incorrect. The CLG meeting made no mention of an ancient village. [Edited by moderator] Just repeating what the activists tell them to write.

    • “ancient village” is in quote marks in the headline, showing this is an opinion rather than a fact, and the first sentence ends “..could be an ancient village”. Presumably this is one of the things which the survey will seek to establish.

  4. Martin, I know it’s difficult at this time of year but you must abide by your own rules. No posting of comments outside of daylight hours. So no more comments from you before sunrise or after sunset please.

  5. Except Fifi, when I am in the UK I am not anti the production of oil and gas in the UK for the generation of electricity, or to be used for other valuable reasons-like the red diesel being used by the farmers around South Yorkshire currently, and the diesel fuelled water pumps being called for. So, my use of energy is against that consideration.

    What are you suggesting? That there are “antis” in other countries telling people in UK how they should not be producing gas and oil??

    Maybe they are not “antis” but exporters, or representing exporters, or investors reliant upon exports, or useful idiots employed by any of those three?

    Nah-that has never been observed, has it??? LOL.

    (Social media=A cheap source of promotion.) Shock/horror!

      • But, I do not preach that Fifi!!

        You mistake me for an anti. I just raise the question regarding the hypocrisy that is evident to many, like me, who are not anti.

        Maybe they all then plant a few trees and their sins are forgiven?? Goodness, the Catholic Church have been preaching that sort of approach for centuries, and the comparison is quite apt, as the rich can cover more sins than the poor. Bit ironic when anti capitalism is added into the mix.


        Just another addition to the worlds largest industry, which is anxiety. Sorry, count me out. The Internet is based upon it, the pharma companies make much of their profit from it, politicians justify trillions of taxation around it. Once anxiety is seen as a huge industry, it is quite easy for many to decide to be anti that industry and park being anxious about everything else.

        I shall now go and spray my roses, not with anxiety about what will happen if I don’t, but happiness that if I do I will get a much better display next year.

  6. Thought it needed an adult, Fifi.

    Just the climber to sort out now. (Covered in thorns and going in the wrong direction.) I shall think fondly of someone as I guide it back in the right direction.

    Eddy Stones work is never finished.

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