Regulation

Biscathorpe oil production plan “completely at odds” with local area, says Conservative MP

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 MP, with (from left to right) Nick Bodian, chair of the community liaison group, Lincolnshire County Councillor Hugh Marfleet and East Lindsey District Councillor Richard Fry during a visit to the Biscathorpe site in 2019. Photo: Office of Victoria Atkins

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.

11 replies »

  1. “Open up the Wolds”???

    Hmm. I thought that oil and gas are where there are deposits. If there were that many across the Wolds they would have been found and used long ago. She does also state it would only make a small difference to UK oil production, which hardly agrees with her industrialisation claim.

    I think it was her yesterday in the HoC, dealing with Corbyn. If it was, she did a great job there, but I have a feeling she is over egging the dish more than a little on this subject.

  2. If you are worried about “industrialising” the countryside look no further than modern farming, have you ever been around a large intensive farm with its acres of concrete and massive sheds? thought not

    • Well, Kally, I was employed in agriculture for all my working life, and I seem to recall a company called Cherry Valley operating around the Wolds, who were the largest producer of ducks in UK.

      Of course, the largest producer of ducks in the world is China. UK could just import them from there, and keep UK ducks “in their shells”. One problem with that, is with Cherry Valley you could check what you were buying, not sure you would get to know how the ducks were reared in China or what they brought with them. (I recall eating duck in the Far East and required days of Imodium to follow! I have vivid memories of calculating the time that medication should work for and whether it was longer than the conference presentation I was to give. I do not recommend it to others.)

      With respect to this particular “industrialization”, the site is already there and what is being proposed is not a great deal more surface development, and much of that temporary. Then a number of years with little going on other than pumping and a few lorries trucking away. Not a great deal more, if any, than might be applied to a large duck farm.

  3. Plenty of chalk streams in Hampshire and Sussex, as well as small scale onshore oil production…..with no history of any pollution as a result.

    The drilling rig will be visible for the same amount of time as a crane building a new barn on an industrialised farm. After that, the site will look less visible than a farm.

    If you ask the people in the Chichester part of West Sussex if they’ve heard of the Singleton Oilfield (one of the largest after Wytch Farm) I bet less than 1% will say ‘yes’. That is a beautiful (National Park) South Downs landscape too.

    In the meantime, shall we carry on advocating importing oil from Arabia, Middle East and the Niger Delta?

  4. Hello Martin, I totally agree that this oil site at Biscathorpe, even if highly successful is still pretty much “small scale” in the scheme of things. The Welton site in Lincolnshire which pumps a lot of oil for the uk causes little to no problems locally, I know this as I have friends who live close by it, most don’t even know its there. Any oil we produce in the uk during this energy transition to my mind is a positive as we have far stricter rules on C02 emissions caused by flaring and production than most foreign oil companies, it also alleviates the cost in emissions in terms of getting it here.In fact if we were to import all our oil and gas into the uk and have no domestic production whatsoever, it would not only mean a large increase in pollution over the status quo it would also be wrong as we would be simply exporting it to somewhere else! perhaps that’s what the nimbies want.

  5. Hi kally.

    I know the area well, and ran an office in Lincolnshire for some years, although I lived elsewhere. My office staff all lived in Lincolnshire. None of them knew about their local oil production sites, and one drove past one every day to work!

    When I chatted to her about it, she was quite relaxed and stated that it had never caused her any reason to even wonder what it was. Her only concern regarding noise etc. in the countryside where she lived was from the grain driers that operated 24/7 some years, if required, as she had a young daughter and was concerned about her sleep. However, her husband was an agricultural engineer, so her concern was pretty minimal!

    Not sure if the rocket fuel contamination, from the Cold War days, around the Wolds has been sorted yet, but that was one concern, I do recall.

    Just hope that is not real fur, Ms. Atkins! Probably not, but probably imported. And such stuff, has in the past been found not to be what it was supposed to be. So, let’s hope produced in UK and to high UK standards, ideally in her own backyard to minimize transport emissions. Talking of which, I wonder if and when the Home Office will examine the emissions from police cars?

  6. I made a recent visit to the area to see for myself the visibility of the Biscathorpe site. After some considerable time driving up and down country lanes, it was purely by chance (and with the aid if a local cyclist) that I was directed to what must be the only vantage point where I could actually see what all the concern is about regarding the damage to the beauty of the local area. The four people stood in the picture in this article is highly misleading as a guide to how visible Biscathorpe is, and with a view to obtaining objections, somewhat dishonest!!
    With regards to the chalk stream, it would in my opinion be very unlikely that any contamination would occur based on the distance from the site to the stream (I visited that too). Additionally, said stream has a ford that is driven through daily by cars and heavy goods vehicles, washing their undercarriages and oil/fuel from sumps and tyres etc.
    The vast majority of people who have apparently signed a petition (approximately 1000) do not live in the area. They have no idea of the situation and neither have they visited the area. The are purely objectors to hydrocarbon recovery. As regards “Local tourism generated more than £733m in 2019 and had created more than 7,000 jobs”, this is NATIONALLY! It would be very interesting to see how much was generated in this area and how many jobs were generated. Production from this well, which the MP states ““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.” is described as the ‘biggest unappraised onshore UK discovery’ so her calculations seem somewhat spurious.

  7. She is another that does inspections from 300 metres away. If she wanted to see the site all she had to do was ask.

  8. Given that it was a conservative government that sold these exploration Licences to these company’s
    I find it highly hypocritical that a conservative MP is now opposing them. it amounts to a breach of contract the oil company’s who have expended millions on these projects should sue the government for compensation.

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