More than one thousand people have signed a petition against oil production in the Lincolnshire Wolds.
Egdon Resources is seeking permission for 15 years of oil extraction from a new sidetrack well at its Biscathorpe site near Louth.
Opponents of the plan are calling on Lincolnshire County Council to refuse consent when the company’s application is considered, probably in the autumn.
The proposal counts as a major development in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Under planning law, it should be refused permission unless there are exceptional circumstances and it is in the public interest.
Objectors have said it does not meet these tests. It would cause noise, light and air pollution and make it more difficult for the UK to meet its climate change goals, they have argued.
The authors of the petition, the campaign group, SOS Biscathorpe, said:
“This industrialisation of our countryside flies in the face of commitments to protect our environment and the future of younger generations.
“Development in AONBs should only be allowed in ‘exceptional circumstances’. If the Committee are to consider ‘exceptional circumstances’, then we urge them to consider the climate and ecological emergency.
“It is NOT sustainable development and we are calling on Lincolnshire County Council to refuse permission when it comes before their Planning Committee.”
Egdon Resources has submitted extra details about the proposals, after a request from planners at Lincolnshire County Council. They asked for more information on the impact on the landscape and peace and tranquillity of the area and details to support the case that the development was in the public interest.
Economic and community impacts
The company had previously said the Biscathorpe wellsite could “make a contribution to helping maintain the UK’s security of energy supply”. It could help to reduce oil imports, Egdon said, as well as benefitting the local economy and meeting “the continuing need for oil”.
In the new information, it said:
“there are unlikely to be any significant adverse effects from long term production, including social effects upon local residents and visitors to the area and those relating to the special qualities of the AONB, to warrant a refusal of planning permission.
“We consider that there are exceptional circumstances to justify the proposed development in the AONB.”
Egdon said its landscape assessment had concluded that during production the site would have a “negligible adverse effect” on the landscape character.
The effect on visual amenity would be neutral, the company said. The only exception was from the south where the effect would be “minor adverse”, it said.
Plans to improve biodiversity would “strengthen the extensive existing screening of the wellsite”, Egdon added.
In its extra information, Egdon said peace and tranquillity were ”not quantifiable”.
It calculated that noise during production would be below the lowest observed adverse effect level (LOAEL). This was “a definite indication that no significant effects will arise and that no further mitigation is necessary”, the company said.
Opponents have objected that the site would threaten the dark skies of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
Egdon said the site would not be staffed at night during long-term production so no lighting would be needed.
It said the night-time lighting would be used only in bad weather, at times in winter, during emergency work or when an intruder alarm was activated. Light spill and glare during this phase would be negligible or have a “minor adverse” effect, the company said. Sky glow would be moderate or minor adverse, it added.
The company said it would plant fast-growing native trees and shrubs around three sides of the site to provide additional natural screening.