“Oil drilling puts Isle of Wight Biosphere status at risk” – AONB chair

UKOG IoW 191216 dod5

UKOG’s proposed Arreton well on the Isle of Wight. Source: UKOG diplay panel

Proposals to drill for oil on the Isle of Wight could threaten the island’s new Biosphere status, it was alleged yesterday.

Jonathan Bacon

Jonathan Bacon

Jonathan Bacon, chair of Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), made the comments in what he described as a “strong objection” to a plan by UK Oil & Gas plc (UKOG) to drill near the village of Arreton.

He said:

“if it were to proceed, the proposed development could impact upon and possibly lead to loss of Biosphere Status. This is because it would show a failure to support the principles and aims of the Biosphere.”

“Failure to adhere to the principles and commitments which led to the award of Biosphere status will obviously [put] that status at risk.”

Last year, UNESCO designated the whole of the Isle of Wight and marine areas along the coast as a Biosphere Reserve.

Biospheres are internationally-recognised protected areas that show there is a balanced relationship between people and nature for sustainable development. There are about 700 Biospheres in more than 100 countries.

Mr Bacon said Biosphere status could be removed if monitors decided the Isle of Wight had failed to live up to the designation’s requirements.

“The impact of decisions made now will be relevant to their considerations.”

He described the UKOG application as a “test” of the island’s stated commitment to Biosphere status:

“Proposals which will adversely impact upon environmental sustainability are counter to Biosphere status.

“Onshore oil drilling … runs counter to the aims of sustainability inherent in Biosphere status.

“The application would damage aspects of the environment which contributed to the overall make-up of the Island which was deemed to be of sufficient quality to merit award of the status.”

A public consultation on the UKOG application continues until Friday 24 July 2020. At the time of writing, there had been more than 1,000 online objections.

Mr Bacon said even without the Biosphere status, the proposals did not “adhere to Isle of Wight planning policy guidance”. He said it failed to comply with:

  • Policy SP5: requires proposals to protect, conserve and/or enhance the natural environment
  • Policy DM13: requires proposals to protect, enhance and manage a network of green infrastructure assets
  • Policy P52 in the AONB Management Plan: requires development proposals relating to energy to fully consider the impacts on the landscapes and seascapes of the Isle of Wight AONB
  • Isle of Wight Strategic Plan: Seeks to promote green energy and reduce the carbon footprint

Mr Bacon said:

“It is clear that to promote alternative energies while simultaneously permitting high polluting industries, such as oil extraction, is a contradiction in terms and would seriously undermine the current commitment to Biosphere status.”

He described UKOG’s estimated greenhouse gas emissions for the project as “entirely contrary” to the Isle of Wight Council’s policies to reduce emissions. This level of emissions would be “an unacceptable source of pollution” for an area with Biosphere status, he said.

He also raised concerns about the impact on island roads and a re-wildling programme in the area of the proposed site.


A spokesperson for the opposition group, Don’t Drill the Wight, said today:

“Jonathan Bacon’s submission regarding the importance of the Biosphere has come at a significant time.

“Some of our local parish and town councillors are also now discussing how they plan to respond in the coming days.

“Our UNESCO Biosphere status, traffic, AONBs and impacts on our re-wilding programmes, have been some of the many concerns repeatedly highlighted in objection statements, currently sitting at 1044 and climbing.

“Given the restrictions of Covid 19 during this consultation period, the public response to and support of our work to promote the Don’t Drill The Wight campaign has been tremendous and almost beyond our expectation.

“Islanders have realised that the promises of mitigation to the multiple potential risks and impacts that this application has highlighted, are completely inadequate and they are adamant that fossil fuel extraction will not go unopposed.”

The application can be viewed online on the Isle of Wight Council planning portal. Search for application 20/00513/FUL.

DrillOrDrop reports

Application details

Objection by highways officials

Key facts and timeline of the Arreton proposals




25 replies »

  1. It’s official, we’re at 1.5*C average global warming. Paul Beckwith citing James Hansen: (if you can’t watch the whole video, watch from c12.30-13.30 minutes)
    Chart at 12.30 shows 1.2*C above 1880 baseline. Paul explains to get to a more accurate 1750 baseline we add 0.3*C for warming between 1750 and 1880. Hence now at 1.5*C above the 1750 baseline.

    More fossil fuel development is madness. But then it is now known that the increased CO2 levels leads to decreased cognitive function, so maybe we’re all going mad.

    What’re we going to use for energy going forward? We’re not Martyn, Degrowth is the only way forward, planned or imposed, it’ll happen.

  2. Have I missed something? I thought the UK government had put some kind of a moratorium on fracking. Maybe I was having a dream of hope….

  3. This is Not Right the Government has sold these Company’s Exploration Rights. and Encouraged them to spend Vast sums of money on these Projects Only to be thwarted at the Last post by the Nimby Brigade. who con,t seem to grasp that even if the Uk were to Produce Zero Emissions. the result would not even amount to 1% difference globally. All they are doing is increasing fuel poverty for the less well off like Pensioners who have to choose between eating & Heating. & Bankrupting these exploration company’s.

  4. This could be the final nail in UKOG’s coffin , nailed on refusal imo , well done Mr Bacon and all on IOW .

  5. The irony of your comments is that long before any Biosphere award was issued the UK goverment sold the oil & gas exploration rights for the IOW the fact that this was ignored or not mentioned in the attainment of the award renders the retainment of the award in jeopardy not this planning application. The rest of the speil. is just excuses.

    If the IOW council do not want drilling on there island will the council & it’s taxpayers compensate UKOG & it’s shareholders for the value of the oil in place on the island for not allowing the company to exercise it right?

    • I’m surprised that investors aren’t asking for compensation from UKOG for losses since 2014 , IOW refusal will probably save you more financial pain than failure to produce commercial volumes of oil. I can’t believe you are still falling for the BS after all this time . “Billions of barrels of oil I tell you “

      • You mean like they would be asking for compensation from Tesla for losses over a MUCH longer period, Jono?

        (If you mean losses on the share value, then your comment is just nonsense. I have invested in UKOG since 2014, and made a profit. Enough to arrange a lease on a hybrid to try. That was rubbish, so back to petrol. So, my punt on UKOG could have made me a convert, but it didn’t because the products are not there yet to convert me-and many others, including antis.)

        BOTH companies are invested in for the possibility of future profits. For one, the share price represents that the share holders are confident of the BS, for another not so. In both cases, buyer beware! Giggle South Sea Bubble. There were some pretty intelligent individuals who were caught by that one. How about investing in tulips, Jono? Now there is a nice Green option.)

        Nice of you to be so concerned about the investors, Jono. However, they might be noting that you really don’t know what you think you know, and volunteer. Very similar on the UKOG chat site too.

        If they want compensation, Jono, then SCC is probably a better bet. Just IMHO, but that could be investigation number 2.

        (You will probably find no more UKOG investors on DoD than on the UKOG chat sites you so frequently visit. But, maybe your objective is just to falsely promote that those who don’t agree with you are investors and to be discounted? Not that you have tried that before. LOL.)

  6. Yes, we know IOW is an enclave for the Greens!

    So, they can mobilize a FEW of them to write letters and make comments.

    However, whether that changes anything within the Planning Process remains to be seen.

    IOW Greens may think they can declare UDI, but actually they still came third in the last election and their percentage of the vote decreased, whilst both the Tories and Labour increased.

    Oil price heading upwards again today as world demand starts to rebuild. Nice blue skies starting to be criss-crossed by vapour trails, again. What the Greens want, is not the current REALITY.

  7. Well then a biosphere it must stay, please could all 141,538 IOW inhabitants est. 2019 census, please vacate the island in order to maintain and sustain the biosphere…

    Oh an Education on the importance of industry and let’s not let a little thing called employment foggy the opposition of the green party’s narrative!

  8. Strange that some of the other Biosphere locations ALSO have oil extraction, and at least one, I note, exports oil to UK!

    Just Giggle it.

    Oil and ecology can exist side by side quite comfortably. Take a SHORT trip to Wytch Farm.

    Ecology and tourists not such good neighbours.

    E-G: There is a lot of difference between the Green Party, compared to those who follow green practice. That is why there are a lot who aim to lead a reasonably green lifestyle but would never vote for the Green Party-who are like a water melon, Green on the outside, red on the inside and because of that even fail to make headway when they opt to join a “progressive alliance.” Any party needs to show how their agenda would be paid for, and the Green Party has failed repeatedly to do that to anyone who would challenge it.

    Norway does quite well supporting a pretty green environment-largely via the income from oil and gas. And “enjoy” Biosphere status.

    • Martin why should oil & biosphere not go together the oil is completely organic!

      Oil in reality just like any of the crops in the field except it is accumulated under the ground & has a different process of harvesting.

  9. It’s time the UK and other countries revolted !!! The rich are purely interested in getting richer the governments are not interested in putting the everyday man and woman first ! They just use them as cash cows and It would appear that we are now being killed off – slowly eroded the older we become and the less value we hold !
    The more and more damage these rich fools do to our planet the less time will exist where they have one utter greedy [edited by moderator] it’s time we stood together enough is enough ! We have the wrong people leading our countries and councils ???? Again corrupt bodies times need changing !

    • Well, Julie, you had the opportunity to elect the “right” people a short while ago.

      [edited by moderator]

    • Julie

      It’s surprising that you are not supporting this application with your comments then as I understand that UKOG has committed to supporting local commities though a 6% royalty from production.

      This will help support the community groups & organizations for improvements on the islands which could well include Islands roads that wants funds for the major improvements on the islands that it says it wants to make.

      The money does not grow on trees & there is nothing for nothing in this world but every little will help

  10. Good morning all.
    UKOG has waited 4 years to submit this application after dropping the offshore licence due to the environmental difficulties of attempting to drill from onshore and requesting a 2 year extension of the initial period of the onshore licence.
    UKOG is perfectly aware of the natural landscape of the island and the fact that the licence covers virtually all of the existing AONBs.
    UKOG is apparently also aware of the hundreds of sites of special scientific interest and nature reserves on the island, the fragility of the strata and the vulnerability of the limited indigenous water supply as it highlights them in detail in this application.
    There is no indication that UKOG consulted with, or informed UNESCO of its intention to apply to activate its licence, in order to inform their decision whether to continue or drop it in the same way as they dropped the offshore licence.

    One would have thought, given their understanding of the island’s geology, its aspirations, status and its landscape, that it was as plain as the noses on their faces that this application would be met with opposition and possible rejection.

    The IOW council at the time of the licencing round had already informed the Government of the time, that the licence should not be included in the 14th round because it was an inappropriate location due to the likelihood of multiple negative impacts.
    The Government ignored this and therefore would have no grounds to challenge the decision to oppose the application and UKOG should have done its homework and saved the money spent on it, to help boost the director’s bonus at that time.

    Jonathan Bacon is not a member of the Green Party. I’m not sure how that narrative was even brought into the discussion – although bashing the Greens and the glories of Wytch Farm seem to be steadfast standbys of those who like to throw their toys out of the pram when intelligent debate is too much like hard work.

    The current Conservative council secured the status of the Biosphere and the new Island Strategy, which outlines the policies for development of further ecological enhancement and biodiversity on the island – including the objective of increasing indigenous alternative energy and energy storage and does not include promoting the extraction of fossil fuels.

    The MP who has opposed the application is Conservative.

    Most objectors are not politically affiliated either. But Islanders love their Island – it’s not about Politics – it’s about protecting something that is worth fighting for.

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