A company’s bid to drill for oil on the Isle of Wight has been opposed again by the local MP.
Bob Seely, a Conservative, has objected to UK Oil & Gas’s application for an environmental permit for its proposed exploration site at Arreton.
Writing online today, he praised the work of the local campaign group, Don’t Drill the Wight, and other opponents of the plans.
“I am deeply concerned about the environmental impacts arising from this proposal. Not only does the proposed site sit on undeveloped greenfield farmland, it is very close to a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the boundary of the Isle of Wight AONB [Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty].
“The application is entirely contrary to the high environmental standards we are trying to uphold here. We have 41 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 395 local wildlife sites and we seek to secure a sustainable future, preserving the Island’s biosphere status and aiming for net-zero by 2050.”
A year ago, Mr Seely objected to UKOG’s planning application for Arreton. He said the scheme was “inappropriate for the island”, conflicted with local economic aims and threatened the tourist industry.
At the time of writing, Isle of Wight Council has not confirmed when the planning application will be decided.
UKOG has now applied to the Environment Agency for a permit, which must also be approved for drilling to go ahead.
In response, Mr Seely said:
“I hope that the Environment Agency not only understands the strength of feeling from Islanders on this issue but also agrees that this application is harmful to our environment and everything we are working so hard to protect here.”
He has called for an extension of the Isle of Wight AONB, which currently covers about half the island. He also wants the island to become the UK’s first Island Park, to protect the wider landscape. He said:
“Our environment has been both nationally and internationally recognised for the variety of landscape, wildlife and level of access available across the Island. We do not want to see that tarnished.”
Mr Seely said there was a low likelihood of accidents in the onshore oil and gas industry but if they happened they could have serious consequences:
“I urge the Environment Agency to consider the unique environmental pressures that the Island faces; the ability of the Island to respond to such incidents; and the challenges of monitoring and assessing the environmental impact of the site in terms of the Island’s fragility as a whole.”
He said he also feared that traffic generated by the proposal would add to existing road congestion. And he was concerned about the impact of noise, air pollution and artificial lighting. On light pollution he said:
“the Island is one of the few areas in England with truly Dark Skies, and if we want to be designated a Dark Sky Park then we need to consider applications such as this.”