Rathlin Energy has revealed proposals to add six new wells at its West Newton A wellsite in Holderness and seek consent for 25-years of production.
In a short statement on its website, the company said it planned to drill, test and produce from up to six new wells. It also wanted to test, appraise and produce from the existing two wells.
Rathlin said East Riding of Yorkshire Council had ruled that the proposed expansion would not need an environmental impact assessment.
The company said it would carry out a public consultation on the plans “over the coming months”, before submitting a formal planning application.
Neither Rathlin nor East Yorkshire Council have published the resulting size of the expanded site if the plans were approved. But maps on the council’s planning website suggest that the area would more than double.
The company also said it would apply for planning permission for two other well sites in the area, to be called West Newton C and D. If these and the expansion at West Newton A were approved, there would be planning permission for 18 hydrocarbon wells in the area.
The latest news coincides with a call from Conservative leaders on East Riding of Yorkshire Council to declare a climate emergency. A report on the issue, due to be discussed by the full council next month, described the region as “at the centre of transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy”. It did not refer to the West Newton drilling sites.
West Newton A, on land off Fosham Road, High Fosham, was first granted planning permission in 2013. The duration of consent has been extended twice, in 2015 and 2018.
The first well, WNA-1, was drilled in 2013 and tested in 2014.
In 2015, the Environment Agency investigated breaches of the environmental permit at the site.
That year, Rathlin Energy described a gas discovery at West Newton A as “very encouraging”.
The second well, WNA-2, was drilled in April 2019. That year, Reabold Resources, the major shareholder in the West Newton licence, described it as “potentially UK’s largest onshore hydrocarbon discovery since 1973”.
In a statement today, Stephen Williams, the co-chief executive of Reabold, welcomed plans to extend West Newton A:
“It is encouraging that activity continues behind the scenes at West Newton, with progress being made ahead of testing and eventual production on the licence.”
Campaigners against Rathlin’s activities have opposed the expansion of West Newton A. One said:
“this new climate crisis paperwork [climate emergency report] the council chucked together doesn’t mean a thing in the face of potentially six more wells, on top of the four planned for West Newton C and D.”