Decision due this month on major expansion of East Yorkshire oil site

Proposals for long-term oil production and six new wells at a Rathlin Energy site in East Yorkshire are due to be decided at the end of this month, it was announced today.

Workover at West Newton-A site, 11 September 2021. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

The news came as five local parish councils have submitted objections to the proposals, which would triple the size of the West Newton-A site in Holderness.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council said the scheme – the largest for onshore oil in recent years – would be considered by its planning committee on Thursday 30 September.

A pre-meeting, at which the company and opponents will present their views, is planned for Monday 27 September.

Almost 1,000 people have commented on the application. There have also been comments from local organisations and council departments.

“No benefit but unacceptable risks”

Yesterday, Withernwick Parish Council said it objected “most vehemently” to the proposals. It said:

“There will be no benefits to local villages, but there will be serious disadvantages and unacceptable risks.”

The council said safety had not been “properly addressed” in the application. There was no guarantee, it said, that a previous escape of “foul-smelling gas” from West Newton-A would not happen again.

It was also concerned about:

  • Public order and policing, traffic, noise and lighting during the construction phase
  • Traffic, visual impact and flaring during operational phase
  • Capacity of Rathlin Energy to restore the site at the end of the project

The council’s objection said East Riding of Yorkshire Council could not and should not approve the application following its own declaration of a climate emergency. Approval would be “in direct contravention” of county council and government policy, Withernwick said.

The council was also concerned there would be a negative impact on the local tourism industry.

“Blighted” by industry

Aldbrough parish council, whose area includes the wellsite, said the landscape had already been “blighted” by industry. The impact of an expanded wellsite on natural beauty and historic significance should be considered.

Aldborough also objected on grounds of:

  • Increased heavy traffic on narrow lanes
  • Previous road closures sought by Rathlin Energy during operations at West Newton-A
  • The impact of noise on local people’s well-being and mental health

Ellerby parish council objected to extra tankers and large vehicles on rural roads, as well as noise and light pollution. The council said the proposal would increase use of fossil fuels and contradicted local and national climate change policies.

Skidby parish council objected on the grounds of increased traffic and the “detrimental impact on the local environment”.

Bilton parish council said additional traffic would make the quality of life of its residents poorer. The council’s objection said:

“as the Government agenda is to push for more sustainable provision of energy, and to move away from fossil driven energy, we would have to question what such expansion of the facility at West Newton will do for this government goal.”

Other responses

The Environment Agency did not object but noted that Rathlin Energy had not yet applied to vary its environmental permit. 

The local highways authority said:

“It would be reasonable to assume that of the maximum 132 daily vehicle trips associated with the production phase of the wellsite, there would only be 94 additional trips [than those permitted at exploration].

“The impact of the wellsite on local junctions is not considered to be significant.”

There were no objections from the local flood authority or the sustainable development officer at East Riding of Yorkshire Council. East Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service said the site must provide adequate access and provision of water for fire-fighting.

Yorkshire Water said if the scheme were approved there should be conditions to protect the public water supply. Beverley and North Holderness Internal Drainage Board recommended a scheme for surface water drainage and controls on discharge.

Meeting details

Both council meetings are due to be held at County Hall in Beverley. The pre-planning meeting is due to start at 2pm. The formal planning committee is listed for 10am. Both meetings will be livestreamed (link)

The recommendation by officials to county councillors is expected to be published online on Wednesday 22 September 2021

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