Environment Agency urged to oppose Isle of Wight drilling plans on climate grounds

The Environment Agency is being urged to oppose oil drilling plans on the Isle of Wight after its leader said “fast thinking” was needed to tackle climate change.

Photo: Don’t Drill the Wight

The Environment Agency (EA) has said it does not object to a planning application by UK Oil & Gas for an exploration site at Arreton.

Today, Don’t Drill The Wight, which opposes the application, urged the EA to rethink its response.

It was reacting to comments by Sir James Bevan, the EA’s chief executive, who said the UK was already experiencing the worst-case scenarios of climate change.

Speaking at an insurance conference yesterday, Sir James said extreme weather would kill more people through drought, flooding, wildfires and heatwaves than most wars have. The effort put in to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic was also needed for the climate emergency, he said:

“That is why our thinking needs to change faster than the climate. And why our responses need to match the scale of the challenge.”

Sir James said:

“We know exactly what we have to do. We need to mitigate the extent of climate change. We need to adapt to its effects. And we all need to lead by example.

“The Environment Agency is doing those things. We are reducing the speed and extent of climate change by regulating down greenhouse gas emissions from industry, and by running the UK’s new Emissions Trading Scheme.”

Don’t Drill The Wight urged Sir James to “make good” on his statements “without delay”. It urged the EA to “radically change” its response to the Arreton application with “immediate effect”.

A spokesperson for the group said:

“the very agency that is supposed to be protecting our environment doesn’t have any objections to plans to industrialise a greenfield site in order to look for new sources of oil.

“It is giving the green light to a project that will damage the environment at every stage of the operation and whose sole purpose is to extract more fossil fuels, the consumption of which are the main drivers of greenhouse emissions. 

“Come on James, let’s see if you really mean it.

“Please no excuses or deferring to other agencies – this is on your watch and the country is watching you.”

UKOG said in its application for Arreton that indigenous exploration for oil represented “the most efficient use of resources by virtue of proximity and the opportunity it affords UK regulators to control the exploration and extraction process in the best interests of climate change mitigation”.

  • DrillOrDrop has asked the Environment Agency if it has ever opposed a planning application or environmental permit on climate change grounds. We’ll report the organisation’s response when we receive it.

5 replies »

    • The most efficient use of indigenous resources would be to maximise our renewable potential. There is no justification for new onshore exploration when the North sea can meet our declining oil and gas requirements.

      Estimate of the UK Continental Shelf’s remaining recoverable petroleum resources. There remains in the range 10 to 20 billion barrels or more of oil equivalent.
      On the basis of current production projections, this could sustain production from the UKCS for another 20 years or more.

  1. That’s why EXISTING oil fields in the N. Sea are being closed down then, jP?

    Nope. It is because many of the reserves left are not economic to extract.

    So, “keep it under the sea” and “get it out of the ground” if more economic to do so. Already happening, if anyone wants to look at the oil coming into Fawley Refinery. Just so much better if as local as possible and risk of another Torrey Canyon removed.

    The use of oil and gas does NOT minimise renewable potential. It just means that the “good old days” when land owners could be guaranteed a net profit per wind turbine of £150k per year are gone, and great that they are-unless you are someone who relies upon that. Renewable subsidies are large enough.

    Perhaps the good people of IOW, who import their energy-including fossil fuel for the Cowes Power Station-may be a little more understanding than the activists with their dogma? And talking about imported energy, not far from the IOW there are other activists protesting about interconnectors (Aquind), so the EA has enough on it’s plate.

    • The UK chooses a diverse range of suppliers to meet our energy requirements. There is a need to do so to protect supply and price.
      UKOG want to drill the IOW. Wanting is not relevant in mineral extraction planning applications. There has to be proven need. I doubt UKOG can prove need in this case as the Government state there is no supply issues.

  2. You contradicted yourself there, jP!

    A diverse range of suppliers. Yes, indeed. So, if you want to protect supply and price, then you maximise local supply. Forgotten about PPE already?

    Otherwise there could be a sudden hike in prices and lack of security when a Beast from the East struck and someone would be left with egg on his face. Now, you might quite enjoy egg, but fortunately someone with the responsibility to get it right is required to do so, and be held responsible when they do not.

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