Updated: Planners seek more details on national importance of Egdon’s Biscathorpe oil plans

Planners in Lincolnshire have said an oil company has failed to prove that its proposals for drilling and production in a protected landscape are in the national interest.

Biscathorpe oil exploration site, Lincolnshire, 6 January 2019. Photo: Eddie Thornton

Egdon Resources wants to produce oil from a new sidetrack well for 15 years at its Biscathorpe site in the Lincolnshire Wolds area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

The company has claimed the development would make “a small but important contribution” to UK energy security.

But planners at Lincolnshire County Council said the application failed to address the impact on local people and landowners. In a letter to the company, the head of planning, Neil McBride said:

“The application has failed to fully demonstrate that there is a sufficient overriding national interest … to warrant a long-term industrial drilling and oil extraction facility within the AONB.”

He said Egdon had also not fully assessed the impact of site lighting and had provided little evidence of measurable ecological benefit of the proposed site restoration scheme.

Mr McBride asked the company to provide more information to support the application, to include:

  • Assessment of all impacts from long-term use of the site on the special qualities of the Lincolnshire Wolds
  • This should include the scenic beauty and rural charm of the Wolds, peace and tranquillity and dark night skies
  • Photo-montages and drawings to illustrate the potential impacts of the development
  • Further proposals to reduce the adverse impacts on the landscape
  • Assessment of impacts on the local community and other land users
  • Proposals for planting to screen the site and improve conditions for wildlife

Egdon Resources has until Friday 11 June to provide the information. The council must publicise and consult on the new material.

“Significant harm”

The countryside charity, CPRE, has said it strongly objects to the application. Its concerns included the impact on tranquillity, landscape, sky glow and glare and climate change.

It said:

“CPRE ultimately consider that the proposals will cause significant harm to the scenic beauty of the AONB, and this is not in conformity with national or local planning policies and should be refused.”

It said a “lack of information” about parts of the proposal meant that the county council could not “satisfactorily determine that the proposals would result in no detrimental harm to the surrounding environment, wildlife and nearby populations”.

The Biscathorpe proposal is considered to be a “major development” in an AONB and must pass a test in planning law that it is needed.

Egdon Resources said Biscathorpe could produce up to 28.35m barrels of oil over its lifetime. In 2020, the UK produced 1.13 million barrels of oil each day.

CPRE said the scheme did not pass the “need” test.

“Scant information has been presented to demonstrate any ‘local benefits’ of the scheme in terms of local communities”.

It also said:

“CPRE believe that the development of a new fossil fuel extraction site is wholly inappropriate and cannot comprehend how the proposed development of this oil production site would fit with these statutory commitments to decarbonise the economy.”

The organisation recommended the county council should clarify whether unconventional hydrocarbon would be extracted from Biscathorpe and whether a form of fracking would be used.

Egdon has said it intends to target oil in the Basal Westphalian sandstone at 1,200m depth and the deeper Dinantian Carbonate at 2,100m.

CPRE said:

“this deeper extraction [the Dinantian Carbonate] would likely require a form of hydraulic stimulation under pressure – or fracking. The fact that this information is missing from the application is perplexing and most unusual when compared to other environmental statements for similar operations.”

Other objections

Since DrillOrDrop last reported on the progress of the Biscathorpe application, Welton le Wold parish council has also objected to the scheme.

It said the proposal was “incompatible with preservation of the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”. It also said a new source of fossil fuels was “incompatible with the policy of the government and local authorities in Lincolnshire to promote renewable fuel sources and to phase out fossil fuels”.

Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service, a section within the county council, said it was unable to support the application.

It said:

“on balance we believe that the development proposal will cause significant local and long-term harm to the special qualities and underlying rural character that contribute to the Lincolnshire Wolds natural beauty, including its unique sense of place and its overriding tranquillity.”

East Lindsey District Council said it did “not feel that the applicant has yet demonstrated that the
benefits of producing oil from this site in the AONB has provided the exceptional circumstances required by the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] to allow the application even when taking into account the great weight to be attached to the production of that oil.”

It said:

  • Onshore oil would be a “vital part of the UK energy mix by 2050”
  • Egdon’s assessment “down-played the harm” from the scheme onthe landscape
  • Lighting would have adverse effects on humans and wildlife
  • “The overall impact of the scheme on the AONB and its special qualities has not been fully assessed”
  • The scheme is a high risk for pollution and soil contamination which has not been fully assessed


Lincolnshire County Council has agreed a request by Aecom, the planning consultant for Egdon Resources, to extend the deadline for the additional information from 11 June to 30 June 2021.

Link to Biscathorpe planning application

Updated 4/6/2021 with details of the response from East Lindsey District Council

Updated 16/6/2021 to include extension to deadline for further information

11 replies »

  1. Dear Friends, Usual Lincs County council Properganda Biscathorpe should have been refused permission to operate there any way I opposed it Then and Now Its still an environmental catastrophe waiting to happen With little or No environmental assessment made Yours, Rob Redford Lincoln LN1
    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  2. I do find some of the stated concerns very odd with respect to this part of the world. For instance, most of the agriculture in that part of the country, which does much to produce the appeal of the countryside, does very little to benefit the local community either. Crops are grown in said countryside, with the use of minimal local labour, thanks to red diesel, and transported to areas of consumption. No different for oil. What is relevant to both, is that whilst areas of UK consumption are eating and also using fossil fuel, then minimal transport of both is indeed helping to decarbonise the economy.

    Fossil fuels, as oil and gas, are projected to be key elements of UK energy beyond 2050, so my maths. show 2021+15 gets to 2036. Whilst the antis seem to have a different concept of maths. I am not convinced they are relevant within a planning process.

    • I hope you know what you are talking about, Martin. Do enlighten us on the proportion of Lincolnshire crops which are not consumed locally. Do tell us what proportion of Lincolnshire agricultural labour is not local. Do tell us how the red diesel is used. Your second sentence is incomprehensible, ending as it does with “either”. The final sentence of your second paragraph, important for confirming that we eat and use fossil fuels, seems to do very little but show that you have managed to add 2021 and 15. Well done. Congratulations on the sums. Where does the ” maths “come in, or the distinction between “antis” maths. and, presumably, polluters’ maths?
      I’m sure you’re right, by the way, that minimal transport of anything is better for the economy, but in the case of fossil fuels, it’s a little difficult to see how they, arch producers of emissions, are helping the economy decarbonise, even if they are used locally. To clarify, more carbon doesn’t help decarbonise. Your tactics are those of the ‘contrarian’ position. You know global heating is happening but you avoid having to do anything about it by taking issue with irrelevancies, false comparisons, imaginary data, etc.
      However, thanks for proving you’re still there and taking a keen interest in….something! For heaven’s sake! But you know all this, don’t you?

      • Well, 1720, that was a whole lot of confusion!

        I’m sorry, but it is not for me to educate you, but you can help yourself there. Perhaps start with taking a closer look at the picture supplied by DoD and you will see, for yourself, how red diesel has been used. If you are unable to see what is there to see, get someone else to explain it to you. In addition, you could check on the many sources of information regarding Lincolnshire agricultural output and also population and then do some maths. Oops-I see your problem, but others will not have that issue. As a clue, start with ducks!

        My tactics, 1720, include encouraging people to do what they are able to do as individuals, to help mitigate against climate change. Your tactics seem to be to discourage them from doing things that do help mitigate simply because that does not fit your dogma even though you can’t coherently argue that it would not mitigate! (Just like your stance regarding HS2.) In other words, you are part of the problem, not the solution and are encouraging others to be the same, whilst claiming to support the environment. No wonder the word “contrarian” entered your head. Thankfully, those in France who invested in the TGV are now able to stop internal flights, and have not avoided doing anything but avoided those who were against building the TGV.

        No, it is NOT more carbon, it is LESS-which is what happens when transferring production to a more local source. (You jumped into that trap some while ago. I will start picking my courgettes next week, and many in Lincolnshire will do so around the same time. Far less carbon than those trucked up from Spain. My French Beans will be a little late due to the weather this year, but they will arrive, and supply enough for me and family for the rest of the year. Far less carbon than those flown in from Kenya. But, I suspect there are also those from Spain and Kenya willing to lobby that transfer can not reduce carbon if they have an interest in perpetuating a myth.) That silliness, from others, cost £400k and now you are trying to excite others to rinse and repeat and by so doing, risk costing the local community. Those tactics are quite clear. And, 1720, you have no idea whether I “avoid having to do anything”, that is pure fabrication, and that tactic is also quite clear. Fake news. Certainly not the reality for my bank, who saw the latest transfer go through today.

        So, indeed confusion. Inability to understand what is presented, unwilling to accept that transfer is not addition, and topped off by fabrication. 1720, the year of the South Sea Bubble confusion-that cost a lot of people, as well. Even Isaac Newton was confused and referred to “irrational exuberance”, and lost a lot of money! 1720 and 2021-more than 300 years but same old. I can see where the “title” came from.

        You might find most residents in the Wold are a bit more interested in reality, rather than confusion. I recognize you are embarrassed to have fallen into the transfer trap, but no chance of you escaping when you thrash about repeating the same basic errors. The thrashing around simply alerts others that someone is in the trap! By the way, “minimal local labour” refers to agricultural mechanisation, hence the link to red diesel. Perhaps a little learning about that, as well, in respect of Lincolnshire, and why tanks were developed in that part of the country even back to WW1? Most in the Wold will be fairly knowledgeable around that already.

        • Do enlighten us on the proportion of Lincolnshire crops which are not consumed locally. Thanks for elucidation about what you were trying to say about local labour: now we know what red diesel has to do with it.
          Take time out from diversionary gobbledygook and tell us how the extent of knowledge of tanks is important for Wolds people, and why this is relevant. The South Sea Bubble did indeed cost a lot: though not as much perhaps as continuing to advocate fossil fuel development against the advice of those scientists whose contribution to the debate on fossil fuels you have refused to accept.
          Interesting, your insistence on transfer of emissions, presumably from polluter A abroad to polluter B, local. I think we’ve covered this before but why should you imagine that polluter A will hang up his polluting equipment just because local polluters have decided to do the job in the UK? It’s the old ‘one plus one plus transportation’ problem again, isn’t it Martin.

          • Nope, it isn’t.

            It is simply if an exporting company loses an overseas customer then that exporting company no longer produces for said lost customer. Maybe, 1720, you feel no one in Lincolnshire works for an exporting company, or has friends or family who do? Sorry, but that would be wrong, I know many who already have that knowledge in Lincolnshire which escapes you. If Harry Kane leaves Spurs this summer he will not play for his new club and Spurs. Lot of common sense in Lincolnshire, 1720. They will also have recognised very quickly what local labour and red diesel referred to, and had that knowledge that escapes you. And, many will have read the scientists reports that state local production is better for the environment than shipping goods half way around the world, and know that is common sense.

            Have you not researched ducks yet? Find your own answers. Many in the Wolds can give you the answer, that escapes you.

            Agricultural machinery/ reduction in farm labour and then tank production. Again, do your own research. Many in the Wolds can give you the answer that escapes you.

            And, many in the Wolds will appreciate what the NPA are now campaigning for, to eat more locally produced pig products, not least because of the higher standards of production, compared to imports, even though there were some who recently were lobbying that the EU raised such standards! So, whilst our discussion does show that a lot of lobbying does go on for the UK importing goods it could produce itself to a higher standard and reduce transport emissions in the process ie. transferring production, it still doesn’t really explain why such lobbying should be so reliant on incorrect maths., lack of knowledge and fabrication. I have seen it done so much better elsewhere, 1720, but you may a certain niche market now there is a University in Lincoln.

  3. I can see another appeal and another cost to the taxpayers just so councillors can pretend they are Green and on their side.

  4. I suspect you are correct, Jackie, then oil at $72/barrel could make the Wressle £400k look pretty small if claims for loss of revenue could be substantiated.

  5. Do enlighten us on the proportion of Lincolnshire crops which are not consumed locally.

    “It is simply if an exporting company loses an overseas customer then that exporting company no longer produces for said lost customer.” I think I’m being pretty patient with you, Martin. How is it possible to be so obtuse? Do you think it might just be possible that the exporting company will find another customer?

    The other vaguely- relevant- to-the- discussion point in your first paragraph: “‘local production is better for the environment than shipping goods half way around the world, and know that is common sense.” Your point is so obvious, Martin, and I’ve conceded it at least twice, but many of your Lincolnshire friends will see the difference between exporting pollution and football transfers.

    Your third paragraph does not explain the relevance of the points in question. Believe me, Martin, I always do the research when the challenge is relevant to the argument and has some sort of intellectual validity. This might explain why I am um unlikely to research agricultural machinery, tanks, the Wolds, the common sense of the good people of Lincolnshire, their employment preferences, Harry Kane, Spurs, ducks, pigs, the EU, maths, French beans, courgettes, the South Sea Bubble, anything else you can dream up, and now, the University of Lincoln. They are simply irrelevant, Martin, to the point at issue, which is, in the certain knowledge that I repeat myself, that one domestic polluter plus one foreign polluter equals two polluters. plus transport pollution. New domestic polluter does not ipso facto cancel out foreign polluter. Sums again, Martin.

    As I keep on saying, Martin, do keep on digging that Trumpian hole, but forgive me if I neglect further communication at the moment to concentrate on something more intellectually demanding – sleep. Last word to you again, no doubt.

  6. Ah, burning that midnight oil again, 1720! But then, when you have lost all credibility as someone who has any real interest in mitigating against climate change, why bother with the charade any more, eh?

    Talking of which, we have already discussed the overseas supplier’s options. Yes, they include finding another customer, if one can be obtained. If that is your concern, then you had better travel many more miles (remember that?) to go and protest at that other customer. China and India are places you might start with. That is a different matter, one you have no control over but continue to pontificate that UK taking certain action would educate that other customer from doing what they are doing! Nope, no sign of that working in reality, and hasn’t been since around Queen Victoria. Of course, the reality you avoid is that the overseas supplier simply does not drill a new well as old wells become exhausted, or turns down the production rate of existing wells as demand drops (take a look at OPEC statements, they do that all the time.) But, that last one is always ignored by the antis as that would create a balanced equation, and that can never happen within that group. My goodness, they even have to deny what the price of Brent crude is, when the press of a plastic button will provide it to anyone who wants to find out the truth!

    The answer to your first question as you can not be bothered to do the research-the majority, outside of Lincolnshire locality. Haven’t you done your duck homework? You really need to get out and about. Do visit Lincolnshire, and more importantly, whilst there, try and discover what those who live in Lincolnshire are aware of from living there, (although I know of some who are totally unaware of oil wells they drive past regularly as they sit unobtrusively within the countryside) rather than travelling your many miles without observing the reality, and arrive finally without knowing the reality of what you have arrived at. Yes, I remember that classic, as well.

    This daylight stuff is a wonder for mitigating against climate change, 1720. It also helps my courgettes grow, so must go and check when harvesting can start so Mrs. C. can plan her menu accordingly, allowing her to replace some imported veggies with local production! Sorry Spain, sorry lorry driver, you may have to get a lobbyist to help you out, but no chance of it working on me simply because they will be unable to get the maths. to add up.

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