The Conservative MP who represents Biscathorpe in Lincolnshire has objected to proposals by Egdon Resources for long-term oil production in the village.
Victoria Atkins, a junior Home Office minister and MP for Louth, said the company’s planning application was “completely at odds” with the character and natural beauty of the area. It put at risk local visual beauty, the economic future and natural environment, she said.
The site is in the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Egdon is seeking permission for 15 years of oil extraction from a new sidetrack well.
Responding to a public consultation by Lincolnshire County Council, Ms Atkins said:
“This proposal represents an industrialisation of the Lincolnshire Wolds and will serve as an inducement for the submission of further oil and gas applications which will open up the Wolds AONB for exploration and subsequent production over the coming years.
“As the UK strives to achieve net zero by 2050 and in the year that we host the COP26 summit, we must be cautious to ensure that we do not allow an application to go ahead which will do long term damage to the Lincolnshire Wolds, its natural environment and our local communities.”
She strongly urged councillors to refuse planning permission.
Ms Atkins, who won the last election with more than 70% of the vote, is the second Conservative MP this week to oppose onshore oil plans. Bob Seely, MP for the Isle of Wight, objected to a environmental permit application by UK Oil & Gas for exploration at a site at Arreton. He has previously opposed the planning application for the site.
In her objection, Ms Atkins, said she had been contacted by concerned Parish Councils, community groups and individual residents. They had made “powerful arguments” as to why Egdon’s application should be refused, she said.
The scenery of the Lincolnshire Wolds attracted more than three million tourists a year, Ms Atkins said. Local tourism generated more than £733m in 2019 and had created more than 7,000 jobs.
“It is vital that we protect this asset if we are going to continue to encourage people to our area.”
Egdon’s proposals also put at risk a rare and nationally-significant chalk stream that runs next to the Biscathorpe site, she said.
Ms Atkins questioned the benefits of the proposal:
“The area around Biscathorpe is rural in nature consisting of small hamlets, farms and country lanes. It is hard to see how allowing industrial development in this area will not significantly alter its rural character and be of detrimental effect to the lives of local residents.
“It is a heavy price to pay for exploration that will not provide any substantial economic gain for the area and will only provide a very small boost to UK oil production.”
Last week, a petition against the Biscathorpe plans topped 1,000 signatures. The application has also been opposed by many residents, the AONB partnership, and local church and business leaders and academics.