A group opposed to plans to drill for oil on the Isle of Wight said its campaign had been boosted by more than 670 objections in 17 days.
Don’t Drill the Wight predicted that in the remaining 10 days of a public consultation objections to an application by UK Oil & Gas would top 1,000.
There have been more 30 comments in support of the scheme.
The objections include submissions from the Isle of Wight MP, Bob Seely, and Arreton Parish Council.
Mr Seely said the oil and gas industry was “not appropriate for the island”. The application was contrary to local planning policy, he said, and the local ambition for the Isle of Wight to achieve the lowest carbon footprint in England by 2020.
He said the site would increase traffic movements, be visually intrusive and have negative associations, threatening island tourism.
In 2019, the island was designated a UN biosphere as a learning site for sustainable development. Mr Seely said:
“Restarting oil exploration does not demonstrate our commitment to this designation.”
He said that the island needed to preserve its conservation status, with 28 miles of Heritage Coast and 395 local wildlife sites. He added:
“The development conflicts with our economic aims. Our visitor economy is worth £520m annually. Oil exploration may threaten that.
“We need to make sustainability part of the Island’s identity.
“The island has a unique opportunity to pioneer tidal energy, recycle 100% of its own waste, develop a smart grid, and reduce the use of oil-based plastics. We must not put off this action.
“Restarting oil exploration on the island has the potential to harm the Islands conservational status, economic aims and identity as a sustainability leader nationally.”
Arreton Parish Council made 26 separate objections to the proposal. These included concerns about highway safety, groundwater and river contamination, light, noise and air pollution and the impact on the biosphere reserve and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Arreton Parish Council said:
“Approval of this project would seem to be incompatible with the Isle of Wight Council’s recent declaration of a climate emergency.”
“Land is a finite resource, especially that given over to agriculture, and it should not be lost to speculative non-agricultural development.”
The objection concluded:
“The members of Arreton Parish Council feel that the risks posed by this project outweigh any potential benefits.”
A spokesperson for the Don’t Drill The Wight campaign said:
“It has been inspiring to see the passion and concern that Islanders have for the environment.
“They recognise both the need to protect the sustainable tourism and agricultural sectors of the local economy and to play a part in tackling the wider global issues of climate change, habitat loss and threats to water supplies.
“To have these views backed by our MP and the local parish council sends a clear message to the fossil fuel industry that the time for new oil exploration is over.”