Plans by UK Oil & Gas to explore for oil at Arreton on the Isle of Wight should be refused because they may be a hazard to road users, highway officials have recommended.
Island Roads, the statutory organisation that comments on planning applications, said the scheme had flaws and could lead to accidents.
It criticised the application for:
- Inadequate access
- Inadequate turning area
- Insufficient information on drainage
- Insufficient information on access by large vehicles
- Insufficient information on the temporary site access
- Insufficient parking on site
- Likely to attract standing vehicles on the highway
UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) submitted the application in March to drill a vertical and sidetrack well on farmland, off the A3056 road between Newport and Sandown.
It said its plans would not “negatively impact” the A3056 or the Island’s wider strategic road network. It also said there were “no existing road safety issues pertinent to the development of the site”.
But Island Roads said the scheme failed to comply with local planning policy on seven counts and could not be supported.
The organisation said the access was “unsatisfactory” because the junction was “unacceptable” and forward visibility was not good enough.
It could not be supported because of the potential hazard to site and road users, Island Roads said.
The proposal did not provide “adequate facilities to enable HGV vehicles [heavy goods vehicles] to enter and leave the proposed site working area in a satisfactory and safe manner”, it added.
Island Roads also criticised the application for insufficient information on the site access, drainage, traffic management and access for HGVs towing a 22m trailer. It said the local planning authority was unable to consider fully the effects of the application on the A3056 because information on drainage was inadequate and not detailed enough.
“In the absence of further details, it is considered the proposal may represent a hazard to highway users.”
The organisation added that information on the site access and management of 22m trailers was “seen to be essential for means of highway assessment due to the negative impact each of these matters could have on highway safety”.
“Interrupt free flow of traffic”
UKOG’s proposal was “likely to attract” standing vehicles on the A3056, Island Roads said. The limited setback area in the access would “interrupt the free flow of traffic” and “add to the hazard to road users”, it added.
“When approaching from the east there is a risk that this may result in rear end shunt type incidents.”
There appeared to be inadequate turning space for HGVs inside the site, Island Roads said. It was concerned that HGVs could not turn without wheels running up the sides of a concrete ramp, potentially causing trailers to destabilise.
Island Roads also said the proposal had “insufficient parking provision” – inconsistent with guidelines in local planning policy. Site staff would be dependent on private vehicles to access the site, potentially requiring 26 parking spaces, rather than the 12 in the application.
“It is therefore essential that an adequate level of onsite parking be provided without it negatively impacting on vehicle turning areas and access routes.”
UKOG’s transport statement said there were no “identifiable collision issues” associated with expected movements of the proposed development.
But Island Roads said there had been four incidents near the site in the past three years that raised concerns.
They showed that stationary vehicles on this section of road should be minimised and that visibility at a junction should be adequate, it said.
“Flawed” speed assessment
The organisation criticised UKOG’s speed assessment.
- It used a design standard that had been withdrawn
- It took only 100 readings in either direction when the standard required a minimum of 200 in each direction
- It had been carried out in a single period, not across a minimum of two periods at different times
- The methodology used by assessors had given inaccurate speeds and this had an effect on the design of the junction and the visibility splays
Isle of Wight Council published the application on 14 May 2020. But at the time it said the public consultation and decision had been delayed by coronavirus restrictions.
The public consultation has now opened. The council’s weekly planning list, dated 12 June 2020, says comments are due by Friday 24 July. The application documents can be viewed online and at Seaclose Offices, Fairlee Road, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2QS. More details in DrillOrDrop report