A public consultation into plans by UK Oil & Gas to explore for oil at Arreton on the Isle of Wight has opened.
The company is seeking permission to drill a vertical and horizontal well on farm land off the A3056 road between Newport and Sandown.
The application was published online last month. But at the time Isle of Wight Council said it was delaying the consultation and decision because of the coronavirus outbreak.
It had not been able to post site notices and the public were unable to visit offices to see paper copies of the application.
The council has now included the application in its council’s weekly planning list, dated 12 June 2020.
Frack Free Isle of Wight, which opposes the application, said today:
“This morning’s news came as a great surprise to us, since we had been assured by planning officers that the application would not go live until the members of the planning committee had undergone their virtual training, which was anticipated to be undertaken in July.
“We were also told that the application would not be posted until the public were able to visit the site and view printed versions of the Environmental Statement reports.”
The group said it had been told by the council that the government had “put in place temporary legislation that removes the requirement for Environmental Statements to be viewed as a hard copy in the office – instead they can be placed online.”
The council also said that the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions meant that people could go out as long as they wished. It added:
“We have no reason to delay advertisement of major applications”.
The planning list originally suggested that the consultation period would be 21 days but has been changed to five weeks, taking the deadline to Friday 25 July.
The application can be viewed online and at Seaclose Offices, Fairlee Road, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2QS.
- Isle of Wight highways officials, who are consulted on planning applications, have recommended the scheme should be refused permission. They said the proposal was flawed and could lead to accidents DrillOrDrop report The island’s MP has also opposed the application DrillOrDrop report