Council urged to rethink ruling on West Newton drilling plans

A council in East Yorkshire is being urged to reconsider its decision on whether proposals to expand an oil site need an extensive environmental study.

The West Newton-A well site in East Yorkshire. Rathlin Energy wants to extend the site into the neighbouring field, trebling its width. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

Rathlin Energy wants to drill six more wells at the West Newton-A site and produce oil for 20 years. (See DrillOrDrop report)

As part of the planning process, East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) ruled that Rathlin did not need to carry out an environmental impact assessment. This is a detailed environmental report that is often required as part of a planning application for larger developments.

Three members of the council’s leading Conservative group have now asked the council’s chief executive, Caroline Lacey, to revoke the decision on the environmental impact assessment (EIA). Ellerby Parish Council has also asked ERYC to rethink its decision (see update)

In a letter last week, county councillors Jacob Birch, Brian Skow and John Holtby, who represent the area around West Newton, said “serious concerns” had been raised with them about the decision.

They said the ruling, made by planning officers last month, “goes against the fundamentals of the Council’s commitment to the environment”. Later this month, the authority is expected to agree to reduce its carbon footprint, promote a healthier climate and declare a climate emergency.

Their letter said:

“We therefore resolve and implore you to request that this Council reconsiders the decision to not set this out as an EIA development.

“That this Council revokes this decision in favour of allowing further and full consultation and debate on this proposal before any decision is taken.”

Letter sent to East Riding of Yorkshire Council chief executive, Caroline Lacey. Cllr Birch posted the letter on his Facebook page.

The councillors said the proposed extension at West Newton-A would have “significant impacts” on the environment and should qualify as an EIA development.

If the site went into production, Rathlin has estimated that 20-25 tankers would visit the site each day of the year. This would total more than 180,000 journeys over a 20-25 year period, the councillors said.

These lorries will pass through and around many rural communities”, they said.

“These actions are clearly going to have a detrimental impact on the environment with each vehicle polluting the surrounding area.

“There will be a significant number of HGVs [heavy goods vehicles] travelling on country lanes, which are often used by the local community in their day-to-day business. The traffic will no doubt have a detrimental effect on horse riders, cyclists, dog walkers and school buses.

“The works carried out and the movements of HGVs will be huge contributors to noise and light pollution as well as odours and vibrations.”

The councillors were also concerned that the EIA decision had been decided in just over a month, during the Christmas and New Year period. More time for consultation should have been allowed for the decision, they said.

They also said they had been informed only after the decision had been made.

“We as elected members[s] should have been alerted directly to such a proposal so that we could be consulted and so that our residents could be given the opportunity to give their comments.”

A similar application to expand the Horse Hill site in Surrey and to carry out long-term oil production did require an EIA.

Update: Parish council concerns

Ellerby Parish Council has also written to ERYC saying an EIA is needed for the West Newton-A proposals.

In its letter, the council said of the EIA ruling:

“We have grave concerns about this decision and strongly support the letter you received from Jacob Birch setting down his own reservations.”

The parish council said it “strongly objected” to the comment by a council planner that the site expansion “would not have the potential to have significant adverse impact on the environment within the meaning of the 2017 regulations”. The council said:

“These are relatively new regulations which obviously put little store by the safety and comfort of those they are intended to safeguard.”

The letter also accused ERYC of “being willing to sacrifice parts of East Yorkshire and the lives of its residents” because the EIA ruling said the impacts would be limited to the local area.

Ellerby Parish Council added:

“We are concerned that your decision was made quickly and without consultation with elected and parish councillors and without full regard to the wishes of local residents who have shown displeasure in the way our environment has been misused by Rathlin in the past.

“We therefore request that the Council reconsiders its decision not to request an EIA for Rathlin’s proposed development at West Newton and allows time for further scrutiny.”

  • DrillOrDrop asked ERYC how its chief executive had responded to the councillors. We will update this report when we receive a response from the council.”

Updated on 17 February 2021 with more details of objections from Ellerby Parish Council

16 replies »

  1. Good evening Ruth
    Your article about West Newton had popped up on my Google tonight and I was wondering as a resident of the area why are you reporting on this if there is no fracking involved at the nearby oil works? We have been already informed by the company that this will not take place. Are you a protester trying to damp down any future employment and increase local economy or an environmental journalist reporting on the wrong development? Before you decide to throw your resonse at me, I too am an environmental campaigner who would like to see fracking stop in the UK but it is not happening in the East Riding. Happy to discuss further. Regards

    • Thank you for your comment. is a news website run by journalists who report on the UK onshore oil and gas industry. The articles cover what the industry describes as conventional operations, as well as fracking. The website includes news reports on oil and gas exploration and production in areas where there is no fracking, such as Lincolnshire, Surrey, West Sussex, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, as well as East Yorkshire. This link will give you a summary of the oil and gas sites that reports on:

  2. How many residents are peed off Ruth. It really is time you stopped listening to Pete. 3 Parish councillors hardly counts as an uprising.

    • Maybe these 3 councillors should practice what they preach, give up using their cars… Or the many goods, food, clothing, vegetables etc That are transported by HGVs… Not forgetting the list of essential products made from crude oil.

      Better still get right back to nature, live off the land & clothe themselves in dock leaves or hessian woven apparel. The sheer hypocrisy is astounding..

    • Thank you for your comment. The councillors who wrote to the chief executive of East Riding of Yorkshire Council were members of that authority, not parish councillors. The letter was posted on social media by one of the councillors.

  3. Perhaps the countryside should also exclude HGVs for and from the farms? Oops-that what makes it the countryside, and why a road network is there!
    Deliveries of red diesel in/ fuel oil for grain drying, fertilizer to encourage the crops, maybe even HGVs with fossil fuel derived product to resurface the same roads, and then oil and crops out. What a neat and balanced situation.
    Bikes, horses and dog walkers can manage without roads, which they do not pay for. Much safer. Perhaps the Councillors would do better making sure there are off road opportunities for non vehicular use, and remember that roads are there for vehicular use? Otherwise, how would the antis manage?

  4. Depending on what size tanker is used (44, 26 or 16 tonne) the estimate of 20 – 25 required each day, would mean that site production for West Newton A would be between 1,329 and 6,000 bopd. Not bad for a field that has not had one well flow tested as yet.

  5. Cuadrilla’s attempts to test frack fields around Roseacre in Lancashire were dismissed following several appeals due to road safely concerns.
    Maybe activists from the two areas should be working together and Councils should be networking to share crucial information?

  6. [Edited by moderator] if you are so unfriendly to own domestic oil & gas companies then u will be buying oil from Russians and supporting their economy.

  7. And, Alex, even bought from the friendly Norwegians, adds to their already accrued $1 trillion Wealth Fund, and sometimes risks a maritime disaster, as was almost the case a while ago when a tanker collided with one of their naval vessels.

    I would suggest that a cyclist avoiding an HGV is somewhat more manageable, and potentially far less costly to the environment.

    • Ahh, the Mystic Meg of DoD returns!

      I, for one, am not an investor in this company, Jono.

      But, interesting you have to try and speculate to create a platform. And yes, Ruth does a wonderful reporting job-from one angle.

      Independently against rather than independently on.

      This outfit still has not missed a target formation within their drilling program, which is the reality, so it is always useful for those interested in the complete picture, and there are some, to have some content from other angles. If you find that uncomfortable, sorry, but perhaps concentrate on the issue rather than try and place some motivation upon others which at the best is speculation.

      However, based upon your track record, those who are invested are now-after your comment-likely to see a large increase in their investment!

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