East Yorkshire oil production plan is “utter madness”, say opponents

Opponents of plans for 20 years of oil extraction at a site in rural East Yorkshire are urging people to object.

A local councillor has also called on residents to submit their comments and is seeking detailed scrutiny of the proposals.  

Expansion plans at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton A site in East Yorkshire.
Source: Rathlin Energy

A planning application by Rathlin Energy for its West Newton A site in Holderness was published last night.

The scheme proposes increasing the number of wells from two to eight and nearly quadrupling the size of the site.

The application is one of the largest for onshore oil production to go through the planning system in at least eight years.

A public consultation by East Riding of Yorkshire Council is expected to begin imminently. The proposal could be decided by the council’s planning committee in the autumn.

The local campaign group, Fossil Free East Yorkshire, said today:

“Even as the climate breaks down around us, an oil company is asking to industrialise our East Yorkshire farmland with an oil and gas field. 

“For our very survival, and the future of our children – our food supplies, our homes, and our security – we must keep it [oil and gas] in the ground. 

“The world is turning away from outdated, polluting fossil fuels, so drilling more oil wells now is utter madness. 

“But we have a choice – the more people that submit objections, the more chance it will be stopped.”

Local resident Helen Wright said:

“As a resident of New Ellerby, I would be disappointed if the council were to put an oil and gas company before the health and well-being of the council tax payers of Holderness and before the future of our planet.

“It would be total hypocrisy to declare a climate emergency then support the drilling of many new oil wells producing fossil fuels for up to 25 years.”

The proposal original estimated that up to 25 oil tankers could visit the site each day during production. But Rathlin Energy has since scaled this back to 10 per day.

Helen Wright said the increased heavy traffic using rural roads would have detrimental effect on the quality of life of local people.

Harry Clark, who lives a mile from the wellsite, said:

“It is imperative, that we ensure, that the residents of the communities around the West Newton A wellsite and those on the traffic routes to and from the well site, are fully aware of the negative impact on their quality of life, if Rathlin Energy are permitted to proceed with the development that they are proposing.”

Cllr Jacob Birch, who represents Mid Holderness on East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said today:

“Following being notified about this application yesterday I have immediately requested the application be called into the relevant Planning Sub-Committee for full, open and transparent debate and decision making. I would urge all residents to submit their thoughts for and against this application.”

Cllr Birch and nearly 30 local representatives called unsuccessfully earlier this year for an environmental impact assessment to be carried out as part of the application.

Fossil Free East Yorkshire said local people were distributing thousands of leaflets to alert residents and encouraging them to submit objections. It said:

“Oil companies will drill as many wells as they can get away with if there’s a chance to get rich.  They want to turn rural East Yorkshire into an oil and gas field, and already have plans for multiple well sites and many more wells.”

DrillOrDrop report on the planning application

12 replies »

  1. “For our very survival, and the future of our children – our food supplies, our homes, and our security – we must keep it [oil and gas] in the ground.” notes Fossil Free East Yorkshire. I am pretty sure that food supplies, homes and security, even in Yorkshire, all need oil and gas? As for “keeping it in the ground”? Is this a nimby comment or are they disagreeing with the IEA?

    “Global oil demand, still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, is unlikely to catch up with its pre-Covid trajectory. In 2020, the start of our forecast period, oil demand was nearly 9 mb/d below the level seen in 2019, and it is not expected to return to that level before 2023. In the absence of more rapid policy intervention and behavioural changes, longer-term drivers of growth will continue to push up oil demand. As a result, by 2026, global oil consumption is projected to reach 104.1 mb/d. This would represent an increase of 4.4 mb/d from 2019 levels. Oil demand in 2025 is set to be 2.5 mb/d lower than was forecast a year ago in our Oil 2020 report.

    All of this demand growth relative to 2019 is expected to come from emerging and developing economies, underpinned by rising populations and incomes. Asian oil demand will continue to rise strongly, albeit at a slower pace than in the recent past. OECD demand, by contrast, is not forecast to return to pre-crisis levels.”

    For Robin of the LibDems (who??):

    “These forces are creating a dilemma for oil-producing countries and companies that are reluctant to leave resources in the ground or build new capacity that could sit idle. But if this leads to a shortfall in investment, it could also have geopolitical implications and heighten the risk of supply shortages later on.”

    And “the more people that submit objections, the more chance it will be stopped.” Not so, numbers are irrelevant in planning policy. If the objections are legitimate planning objections they will be considered; if they are the usual emotional BS they will be go into file 13…..The emotional numbers may convince the Planning Committee to refuse the application but if the reasons for refusal are not valid any Appeal will be won by the applicant and costs will be awarded against the Council (and Council Tax payers).

  2. Paul Tresco, the strength of public feeling is a material planning consideration.
    You state: “The emotional numbers may convince the Planning Committee to refuse the application but if the reasons for refusal are not valid any Appeal will be won by the applicant and costs will be awarded against the Council (and Council Tax payers).” The more objectors then the more the planning officers and Planning Committee Members will consider the strength of the objections, the more also that the objectors will be able to identify valid grounds for objecting; the more objectors then the more skills the objectors can consult from local and regional specialists in geology, groundwater, ornithology, traffic and so forth; the more objectors then the more likely the objectors can raise funds for engaging key specialists and lawyers to polish the objections and present help present a semi-professional to professional case to the Planning Committee. Sensible applicants ignore confrontational people [edited by moderator] and seek dialogue with local protestors to seek common ground and constructive dialogue. This is a normal formal or informal step in the UK Planning Process. Confrontational individuals [edited by moderator] also fail to pay attention to situation when the weight of objections being sufficient to cause the Government to call in the plans for the Government to determine it, or indeed to sit upon the application until such a time as whatever… Indeed there is another channel open to objectors, to submit official petitions to the UK Parliament whereby 10,000 signatures are sufficient to trigger the Government to respond, and 100,000 signatures sufficient to trigger a debate in the UK Parliament. As a further denting of Mr Tresco’s stance, the number of objectors protesting to their MP may often – not always – result in the MP paying close attention to his/her constituents upon which his majority and political survival depend, and so the Government of the day may find pressure coming in from local communities and MPs of any or all parties. Worth adding too that the weight of objections may trigger a Member of the House of Lords to take up the case, and so the Government – and indeed the applicant – face difficult questions and the development application ends up much improved or scrapped.

    Robin Grayson MSc FGS
    expert witness at public inquiries for oil, gas, coal, airports, town centres etc

    • [Edited by moderator]

      It would appear that you agree with me; numbers don’t work either way, for or against. Material planning objections do. These will be from the Statutory Consultees such as NE, EA, Highways etc. If members of the public raise material issues that they have overlooked, they will be asked to comment accordingly. Expert reports may be considered as you say but they will need support from the planning officer and or a statutory consultee.

      “Petitions to the UK Parliament whereby 10,000 signatures are sufficient to trigger the Government to respond, and 100,000 signatures sufficient to trigger a debate in the UK Parliament” – correct to a certain extent. I have been involved in two of these recently trying to get driven grouse shooting stopped. Both were well over 100,000 and we got our debate – however the debate ends up between a few interested (vested usually) MPs who listen and then do nothing, and in my recent experience is a waste of time and a petition. It goes nowhere.

      Surprisingly I know what I am talking about having been an area coordinator and committee member for a group called FELLS (The Friends of Eden, Lakeland & Lunesdale Scenery) for many years who fought wind farm planning applications in the North West and defeated most of them. Including winning four appeals as a Rule 6 Party under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990, S.78. (Whinash, Sillfield, Claughton Moor 1, Claughton Moor 2, losing one (Armistead). We defeated many at Planning Committees around the North West. We even managed to get an application at Killington that was approved by SLDC Planning Committee called in, and ultimately withdrawn. We were able to do this by writing to the SOS before SLDC issued the written approval.

      “Banks Renewables’ planning application for the three-turbine Killington wind farm, which would have been located to the south of the A684 Sedbergh Road, adjacent to Junction 37 of the M6, was approved by South Lakeland District Council’s planning committee in January this year by a majority of seven votes to three.

      Despite this clear local support, the Council’s decision was ‘called in’ for determination by the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government before the planning permission could be issued, and was due to be examined by the Planning Inspectorate at a public inquiry to be held later this year.”

      So I know all about how much influence numbers of objectors, or supporters has on the process – very little. Petitions etc etc are irrelevant. Focus on Planning Law.

      Material objections supported by statutory consultees and anything contrary to planning law may get applications refused and appeals won if required.

    • So, Robin, why was it stated at a previous planning application for a fossil fuel site that it was the substance of any objections that were considered, not the numbers?

      I think the planning process has become wise to copy and paste attempts, and planning officers do get a little annoyed when spurious objections are put forward and multiplied. Yes, their job is to sort the wheat from the chaff. Sorted it will be.

      Reference your point about constituents, I would wager that the majority in any constituency use fossil fuel and by products, and will decide the fate of the MP, not a few activists. Otherwise there might be a lot more Green or Lib Dem MPs!

      Goodness, I trust your fees are not significant. And do check the price of Brent Crude before you next do your expert bit.

      Some seem to have forgotten the whole energy policy is to transition. Far better to transition from a local source than one over the horizon, as Terri has posted.

      • “So, Robin, why was it stated at a previous planning application for a fossil fuel site that it was the substance of any objections that were considered, not the numbers?” A good question Martin, thanks. It gives me the opportunity to agree with you up to a point. The point being that the greater the number of objections or objectors then the greater the likelihood that the objectors can raise funds and credibility sufficient to attract experts in subjects pertinent to the planning application, capable of expertly drafting, presenting and debating technical issues beyond the expertise of most or all objectors and beyond the expertise of most or all of the planning officers. Sometimes far beyond the expertise of the planning applicant and its experienced roster of external and internal consultants. To take one common situation, teams of unskilled objectors can be upskilled in ‘basic citizen science’ topics of substance relevant to a planning application, such as pond surveys, surveys of bioindicators of illegal levels of NO2 air pollution, use of monitors able to detect hotspots of PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 particulate air pollution more sensitively that used by the planning officers or the applicant. All made possible Martin by the sheer numbers of objectors.
        Cheers, Robin Grayson MSc FGS, Liberal Democrat Geologist

        • Well, Robin, I think you have just demonstrated your vested interest, by plonking out the need for “expert witnesses”!!

          How you make your living is up to you, but my experience of expert witnesses was they were usually retired, or redundant, and often contacted people like myself (in another industry) to provide them with up to date information so they could trot off and claim for lots of dosh. Insurance claims were very good payers. If they were friends, I obliged-to an extent-however, only to a certain limit otherwise I could have just done the job myself.

          And, of course, expert witnesses still have to find something that the planning process will find acceptable and valid. I have been to some planning appeals where, so called, expert witnesses, put forward “evidence” and it is debunked immediately. They still trouser their fees.

          [Edited by moderator]

          One final, but valid point. I suspect you might find that a lot of those quite willing to sign a petition or send an E-mail, may not be so keen to send a cheque.

          • Good morning Martin, I read your post regarding Expert Witnesses with great interest. It gives me the opportunity to make clear that a fundamental mistake is to assume all Expert Witnesses are each and all motivated solely by fees.

            Taking the public inquiry in Chester Town Hall into the controversial Ellesmere Port No.1 Well as a case in point, I spent months of my time free of charge preparing detailed written evidence in geology and endured more than a few hours of cross examination in which I rebutted all the questions I was asked. I paid for my train tickets and taxi fares to attend. True I may be guilty of having quaffed more than my fair share of the delicious cake with the tea and biscuits provided by the local objectors.

            Robin Grayson MSc FGS Liberal Democrat Geologist

            • I’m sure they are not, Robin. And I am sure there are some who can get names and prices correct.

              So, yes, the age old dilemma, you gets what you pay for-or don’t. Always the case with consultants as well. I am sure many will be familiar with the re-union dinners where it is discussed that Joe is busier in retirement and earning much more than when he was working full time and then the surprise that someone else was doing consultancy work and then the “for whom? Oh, that explains it.” There is the Derby, there is the Donkey Derby. Horses for courses.

              But, always here to help. In your other job, advise them to lose the Democrat tag. I, and many others I know, like a good oxymoron, but that one has become a marketing nightmare. And marketing advisors make a lot from such advice, when it is just common sense to most.

  3. I think it’s great that we can produce oil and gas in this country, rather than importing it from terrible countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia, and transporting here it at great cost to the environment. Any idiot knows we’ll need oil and gas for some considerable time as yet, so we have a responsibility to produce it in as environmentally a friendly way as possible.

    Great news. I’ll take Ruth’s advice and comment to the council that I think it should go ahead. A no brainer.

    • Exactly Terri, we are pro environment, we want to be greener and live in less polluted word. But intelligent person is aware you can not just close steel factory or cut energy sources. That is childish approach without understanding who world economy operates. Importing of Oil from other countries, who do not care at all about environment or its people, is far worst that doing it yourself, with solid legislation and sound procedures. And use of oil will continue for many years to come. We just need to make sure it is extracted in correct manner, used in efficient way and keep being replaced wherever possible. Saying just NO will not solve any problem.

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