Campaigners commit to 24/7 monitoring of West Newton exploration site

200708 West Newton B 4 UWOC

Rathlin Energy’s West Newton B exploration site in East Yorkshire, 8 July 2020. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

Opponents of oil and gas exploration at West Newton in East Yorkshire have set up another camp to monitor operations in the area.

They say this is the seventh camp established by campaigners since local operations by Rathlin Energy began more than seven years ago. Others were removed by bailiffs or closed when operations ended.

The most recent camp will monitor what is happening at the company’s new West Newton B site, the campaigners said.

The site has planning permission for two years for construction of a well site and access track and the erection of a drilling rig up to 50m high.

In April 2020, Rathlin Energy’s partners, Reabold Resources and Union Jack Oil, confirmed that work had begun at West Newton B.

The 1.5km access track has now been built and recent drone pictures show work is now underway on the site compound.

In 2014, a camp next to the West Newton A site alerted officials to problems during well testing. It later emerged that Rathlin Energy had breached at least 14 environmental permit conditions in four months.

A spokesperson for the current camp said:

“The protectors at West Newton and Sproatley observation camp believe that the UK government and East Riding Council have been complicit in the destruction of the northern countryside for long enough.

“It is outrageous that this development has been allowed to go ahead when we are facing a climate change catastrophe.

“We will carry on our monitoring of Rathlin, Reabold and Union Jack Oil and will highlight their incompetences, like we did at West Newton A. We want the wider public to see and understand the destruction they are bringing to our beautiful countryside, both to humans and wildlife.

“They may get away with what they intend to do, but we will be there 24/7 in one form or another to monitor, record and publish their failings.

“Rathlin have taken full advantage of the Covid crisis and ploughed on unabated with construction of their private access track and wellpad. Now we are here and intend to stay and carry out our promise from last year to the local communities that are and will be affected.

“The impact of high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) was highlighted massively at Preston New Road. Although this is not HVHF, it is our belief that acidisation will be used at West Newton B and that alone is fracking by stealth. We will not stand by and allow this to happen.”

Rathlin Energy said it had carried out an evaluation to understand the carbon footprint and potential climate impact of the West Newton exploration sites.

It said:

“A recently completed Carbon Intensity Study of a notional West Newton development plan, conducted by Gaffney Cline and Associates, has given the plan an AA carbon intensity rating. This is the best possible rating for low carbon emissions based on the Oil Production Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimator developed at Stanford University.

“Rathlin Energy (UK) Limited, as operator of West Newton, is encouraged by the results of the study and will strive to ensure that any development proposed for West Newton will employ best industry practices to deliver a domestic source of low carbon energy to help meet the energy requirements of the UK.”

13 replies »

  1. Perhaps the spokesperson for the group could explain in more detail on how acidising below the formation fracture pressure is fracking by stealth?

    It would also be interesting to learn how the group are going to use the camp to monitor Rathlin’s activities 24/7 and not used it as just a base from which to cause disruption, when you cannot see the well pad or the site entrance from its location.

    • Looking forward to their explanation John. Perhaps they don’t know the meaning of the term “fracking” or what fracturing rock actually is? Are these the same group who called out the fire brigade and wasted their time and our money?

      “They may get away with what they intend to do, but we will be there 24/7 in one form or another to monitor, record and publish their failings.”

      I fully expect them to excute their drilling program in accordance with the various regulatory permits issued by the Authorities – better wording for “They may get away with what they intend to do”?

      “Rathlin have taken full advantage of the Covid crisis and ploughed on unabated with construction of their private access track and wellpad. Now we are here and intend to stay and carry out our promise from last year to the local communities that are and will be affected.

      Perhaps they could explain what this is supposed to mean? Were Rathlin supposed to shut down and wait for the antis to set up camp? I believe wild camping is still prohibited under theCovid-19 regs – arrests and evictions next?

      They could certainly do with appointing a better spokesperson, one who understands the industry.

      • Yes Paul, this is the same ‘monitoring’ group that called out the fire brigade when a low pressure hose failed due to a manufacturing defect. Contacted the HSE because welding was carried out on the site, reported Rathlin to the EA for contravening their environmental permit due to using the flare as a safety device during drilling (EA had to explain about the pilot flame) and claimed a vehicle found with minor advisories following a DVSA inspection was totally unroadworthy.

  2. I am familiar with this part of the world and originally opposed the Rathlin operations as I didn’t really understand what the works entailed. Despite this, after doing a bit of research I believe having a source of domestic low carbon intensity resources is fantastic for the UK and saves us importing fuel from abroad and therefore reduces our carbon footprint as we align towards carbon neutrality. Unfortunately we cant switch to 100% green overnight, but we will get there eventually by using low cost natural gas (much cleaner than the dirty coal days of the past) as a transition fuel towards an eco friendly future. What does confuse me is how folk can sit around in ‘camps’ 24/7 to monitor and not have day jobs? Baffling!

    • It’s most certainly is baffling!, the very privileged few who don’t know how privileged they are until the lights go out! But are quite content in wasting life by sitting in camps, in a tent, barbecuing with gas?, and involving themselves in others industrial affairs!

  3. OMG-the “j” word.

    Drew, that is a taboo on this site. Jobs and the taxation they produce, industry and the jobs and taxation that produces. Taboo.

    Stopping traffic for those on the way to their jobs, to produce taxation, that is to be embraced! As is the diversion of the police to sort it out, rather than deal with County Line issues.

    And then those that do it, and are identified as doing it, just happen to be imposters into the ranks of the folk with higher morals than others, who levitate to such areas, using no fossil fuels in the process.

    I think there must be one of those computer “games” to be constructed around the whole process. After all, if you can run a farm (I know someone who runs THREE!) on a computer without knowing much about the subject, then folk could easily do the same regarding oil and gas. According to the one survey that has looked at the issue, the level of knowledge is equally poor, but then some just try and redefine what knowledge is!

    I see a product opportunity. And, it involves plastic! If there are not too many of these camps around the place, there may be a little of that left for others.

    • Martin Collyer,

      Once again you and your friends are painting with a very broad brush.

      We who are against fracking are very content to discuss JOBS.

      Cuadrilla’s planned short term, maybe 20 years maximum, exploitation of the Fylde, while creating a few temporary low paid jobs for local security staff and lorry drivers, would have permanently, through contamination, destroyed our centuries old and very successful farming and tourism businesses.
      There you go, discuss that!

      • Except, Peter, the farmer decided he could possibly make more money out of that field via Cuadrilla than “very successful farming”, which makes a nonsense out of your post! (Didn’t require much discussion, did it?)

        Other farmers have come to the same conclusion and allowed wind turbines on their land.

        In both cases, as tempus has fugitted, both have lost out.

        Solar farms often come with a 99 year lease, so at least the (ex) farmer has longer term security. Just the locals who are left who suddenly find that change of use of agricultural land opens the gates to all sorts of other developments!

        Oh, I think you will find the only need for night time deliveries was to avoid those residing in Gate Camps, or, reporting from Gate Camps. Without that, you could all have emerged from your beds normally, and watched a convoy during normal daylight hours-without interference. LOL.

  4. Genuine concerned local residents around the West Newton site, please ensure that all recordings of site activities are kept safe away from the site on a daily basis.
    All the records kept by the brave folk at Gate Camp, PNR were destroyed apparently following it’s closure.
    Don’t forget it’s only because of Gate Camp that the illegal overnight fracking convoys with police escorts were exposed to the general public!

    • Peter, they have not applied to frack or indeed planning to apply to frack at the two West Newton sites.

      They do have permission to carry out an acid wash at the ‘B’ site, using the same procedures used at the ‘A’ site last year. Six and a half tonnes of acid were used out of the permitted eleven tonnes, which is far less than Yorkshire Water use routinely on the drinking water boreholes in the area.

      If the methods used by Rathlin can truthfully be called fracking, then all the locals have been drinking fracked water for donkeys years.

      The focus of exploration has also changed away from gas to oil. Yet the activists are still claiming West Newton and Sproatley as the gateways to the gas fields.

      The people gathering at the camp are not concerned locals, they are people who have been residents at all the camps over the past couple of years. Indeed the names and faces will be very familiar to you at PNR.

    • Peter, the monitoring of the West Newton ‘B’ site has already been replaced with disruption, the shout for poor reviews on local business’s websites to people who have never used these companies services has gone out.
      How long before the PR campaign for victim status commences with the claims of illegal evictions?

  5. Indeed the exploration of natural resources is and will continue to be, a contentious issue. I would expect most people understand that the economy and ultimately the welfare state is dependent on revenues from such activities. Having worked in contaminated land risk assessment for many years, and having reviewed the documentation provided by Rathlin to date, I have personally concluded that the operations appear to be extremely low risk. I would be extremely interested to hear if any of the camp folk/protestors could present a coherent argument explaining a contrarian opinion in the interest of debate, especially as there is to be no fracking being undertaken in contrast to the likes of Cuadrilla sites as mentioned above. From watching the news and looking online the camps generally comprise people glueing themselves to machinery and ‘surfing’ on lorries. Very bizarre behaviour in all honesty.

  6. I understand your viewpoint Drew.

    Natural resource exploration should not be contentious though. Not many electric vehicles without lithium and cobalt. Cobalt that is exploited in DRC and causes ill health to young children-including cancer as it is a carcinogen-and a pittance paid out to them. Black Lives Matter? Hardly, with that level of exploitation, but I have questioned two antis on this site about that. One, a Doctor, gave no answer, another replied there is usually some adverse aspects to energy sources-and then a few days later was posting about unproven claims against fracking in Pennsylvania! And now we see the start of ocean mining for such materials, but not a word against that from the antis but a stream of nonsense about the use of plastic, which should really be directed at the disposal of plastic.

    Very bizarre.

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