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.
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.