The Environment Agency has defended the way it approved changes to the rules governing an oil site in East Yorkshire.
A local resident called for the suspension of the variation to the environmental permit for the West Newton B site in Holderness. Harry Clark said there should be a public review of the decision.
He alleged the Environment Agency (EA) had been inconsistent in the way it dealt with application, compared with similar changes at the West Newton A site, also run by Rathlin Energy.
One of his main concerns was that the EA had organised an information event for West Newton A, but not for West Newton B. He also complained that he had not received a leaflet about the permit changes for West Newton B, when he had for West Newton A.
An EA said today it would not be suspending the permit variation. A spokesperson said:
“We followed the correct process for both West Newton A and West Newton B permit variation applications.
“We ensured the application documents were available for viewing online through our consultation website Citizen Space, and delivered information leaflets to residents living close to each site to ensure they had the opportunity to view the applications.
“An information event which was held for the West Newton A site in 2019 attracted less interest than we anticipated so based on the low level of public interest we made the decision not to host an event for West Newton B.”
The EA said Mr Clark would not have received a leaflet about West Newton B because he lived further away from that site and was “less likely to be impacted”.
The agency also said the application documents for the permit variation were published on the Environment Agency West Newton B well site web page in November 2020. They remained there until the permit variation was issued in May 2021, the EA said. Then, they were replaced with the permit variation notice and decision document, it said.
Mr Clark also alleged the EA had been inconsistent in approving the use of carbon dioxide to lift fluids out of the well at West Newton B. But the permit for West Newton A had allowed just the use of nitrogen.
The EA said
“Rathlin Energy decided not to propose use of carbon dioxide for lifting as a technique at the West Newton A well site and for that reason it was not included in the West Newton A permit variation.
“The choice of either nitrogen or carbon dioxide for gas lifting does not lead to a significant difference in the environmental impact from well lifting operations.”
Rathlin Energy told DrillOrDrop that the permit variation was discussed at, and noted in the published notes of, the community liaison meeting on 29 October 2019.