Local councillors in East Yorkshire are still waiting for a government ruling on whether expansion plans at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-A well site need detailed environment research.
Planners at East Riding of Yorkshire Council decided that an application for six more wells at the site and long-term oil production did not require an environmental impact assessment (EIA).
But almost 30 representatives from six councils in the area disagreed.
In a letter, dated 26 February 2021, they asked the communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, to issue his own ruling on the EIA.
Under EIA regulations, the Secretary of State should make a screening direction within three weeks following a request.
It is now more than seven weeks since the date of the councillors’ letter. DrillOrDrop asked the Minister of Communities, Housing and Local Government whether a decision had been made.
A spokesperson for the department said:
“In line with the Regulations, consideration of the case will commence formally only once we are satisfied that all the information needed to inform the Secretary of State’s direction has been provided.”
The spokesperson said the department was waiting for consultation responses from several statutory agencies and that these were due “imminently”.
The spokesperson added:
“Once all the consultation responses are received, they will be reviewed and if we are satisfied we have all the information needed to determine the cases, the formal consideration period referred to in the Regulations can commence.
“The initial 21-day period referred to in the Regulations is not a statutory target and can be extended.”
An EIA usually increases the amount of work and time needed to compile a planning application.
In recent screening decisions, council planners ruled that proposals for oil production at Horse Hill in Surrey and Biscathorpe in Lincolnshire both needed EIAs.