New rules at an East Yorkshire oil and gas site should be suspended because of alleged inconsistencies by the environmental regulator, a resident has argued.
Earlier this month (May 2021), the Environment Agency (EA) approved changes to the permit for the West Newton B site, giving the go-ahead for extended well testing.
But a local resident has called for the approval to be suspended to allow a public review of the decision.
Harry Clark, who lives near the Rathlin Energy-operated site in New Ellerby, said a similar variation application in 2019 for a nearby oil site had been handled differently.
Then, the EA allowed only the use of nitrogen to lift fluids out of the well at West Newton A, he said. But at West Newton B, the EA approved the additional use of carbon dioxide.
Mr Clark also said the EA’s communication for the West Newton-B changes was “totally opposite” to an example set at West Newton A.
In January 2019, he said, the EA had circulated a Keeping you informed leaflet, which explained the changes sought for the permit at West Newton A. The EA also invited residents to a local information event. Another leaflet was distributed when the permit variation was granted.
For West Newton B, Mr Clark said the EA did not publish the application. There were also no documents on the EA’s webpage for the West Newton-B site, he said.
Mr Clark said Rathlin Energy has not informed residents or the site’s community liaison group about the West Newton B variation application.
“I request that the Environment Agency suspends the permit variation granted for the West Newton B wellsite, until such time as a public review can take place and be considered as part of the application.”
The West Newton B well test was said to be “imminent“, one of the site’s partners said yesterday.
DrillOrDrop invited the Environment Agency and Rathlin Energy to respond to Mr Clark’s concerns. On 20 May 2021, the EA defended the way it handled the West Newton B application and said it would not be suspending the variation to the permit. You can read the EA’s response here
On 21 May 2021, Rathlin Energy told us that the permit variation was discussed at, and noted in the published notes of, the community liaison meeting on 29 October 2019.