The local government secretary is to be asked to decide whether an extensive environmental study is needed for expansion and production proposals at an oil site north of Hull.
DrillOrDrop reported last month on a ruling by East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) that a planning application for the proposals at West Newton-A would not have to include an environmental impact assessment (EIA).
The decision, by planning officers, has been opposed by three local county councillors and residents. In letters to ERYC’s chief executive, they asked the council to rethink its ruling.
ERYC’s chief executive has said the decision cannot be called-in locally. Now Jacob Birch, one of the county councillors, is to ask the secretary of state to decide on the issue.
Cllr Birch said:
“I intend to write to the secretary of state to request he uses his discretion to issue his own screening opinion, as I firmly still believe that the decision by ERYC officers is wrong.”
He is seeking cross-party support from other members of ERYC, local parish councils and the region’s MP, Graham Stuart. He said he planned to send his request to the minister by the end of next week.
In a report to ERYC planners, the West Newton-A operator, Rathlin Energy, said it wanted to drill a further six wells and carry out oil production for up to 20 years. The proposal would treble the existing width of the site.
The company estimated there would be 30 visits a day to the site during the 12-week construction phase. During production, there would be an estimated 20-25 tanker visits a day.
ERYC said in its EIA ruling:
“The proposed development would not give rise to any significant effects on the environment within the meaning of the 2017 Regulations and the associated guidance.”
But Cllr Birch told DrillOrDrop:
“I question that because even a layman would say there would be impacts on the environment and they would be significant.”
He said one of the main impacts on the local area was likely to be the number of heavy lorries. He said:
“The report submitted by Rathlin Energy clearly shows there will be impacts on the environment and as such the proposals should be treated as an EIA development.”
DrillOrDrop has invited ERYC to comment on the objections to its EIA ruling. We are waiting for a response and will publish any reply we receive.