Regulation

East Yorkshire planners back major West Newton oil site expansion despite 1,000+ objections

Proposals by Rathlin Energy for 20 years of oil production and six new wells at its West Newton-A site in East Yorkshire have been supported by council officials.

West Newton-A plan. Source: Rathlin Energy

There have been more than 1,000 objections to the scheme, including seven parish councils, members of the public, campaigners and the local county councillor.

But a 90-page report published today by East Riding of Yorkshire Council planners recommended approval when the scheme is decided next week (30 September 2021).

This is one of the largest planning applications for UK onshore oil and gas in recent years. If approved, it would treble the footprint of the West Newton-A site in Holderness and could permit oil production until after 2050, by which time the UK should have achieved net zero carbon emissions.  

The report said “in excess of 999 objections” had been received from the public, with more than 60 reasons given for refusal. There were five letters of support.

This afternoon opponents said the planners had failed to mention key issues identified in the objections.

The West Newton-A wellsite, off Fosham Road, was first approved in January 2013. Two exploratory boreholes were drilled in 2013 and 2019. The duration of the permission was extended in 2015 and 2018. The current consent expires in November 2021.

Climate impact

Many of the objections were about the scheme’s impact on climate change.

But the planners’ report said the application complied with local and national policy, even though both the county council and UK government have declared climate emergencies.

Its author, East Yorkshire’s director of planning and economic regeneration, Alan Menzies, said:

“Whilst there is a firm commitment on the part of Government to move to a low carbon economy, in the transition period there will still need to be a secure and reliable supply of energy sources.

“Whilst the burning of hydrocarbons produced by the proposals will undoubtedly give rise to unwelcome carbon emissions, it is important to note that the consent is limited to 25 years and that during that time it is anticipated that there will be a substantial restructuring of the UK economy to enable it to become based upon low carbon.

“In the transition period the economic component of sustainable development means that it is essential for the UK to be able to draw upon traditional sources of energy, which comprise a resilient form of supply.

“This is fully supported by UK Government policy. Such emissions to air need to be viewed in this context therefore, however unwelcome.”

Landscape and traffic

Montage of the proposed site extension by Fossil Free East Yorkshire

Another major concern of local people has been the impact of the extended site on the surrounding landscape.

Rathlin Energy has proposed using a 55m rig to drill the new wells. This would be 19m higher than the rig permitted at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site in Lancashire.

Mr Menzies said the development was “considered acceptable in landscape terms” if permission was limited to 25 years”. He said the rig would “introduce a feature generally uncharacteristic to this landscape”. But, he said, it would be on site for “a relatively short time”, totalling 24 months and would be limited to 55m.

He added:

“The relative isolation of the site also reduces any potential impact on the visual amenities of the nearest properties, and also assists in negating the impact of noise on the nearest residential properties.”

Many objections also focussed on the impact of increased traffic visiting the site, including heavy lorries and tankers.

Mr Menzies said:

“The development is considered acceptable from a highway safety, access and parking prospective, whilst heritage assets will be safeguarded from harm. The proposal is a very heavily regulated on technical and environmental grounds by a number of other public organisations.”

Other objections

In his objection, the ward councillor, Jacob Birch, said any oil produced should be sent to a refinery by pipeline, rather than road tanker. He said the local community had worked with Rathlin Energy for the past 10 years on the
basis that oil would be piped out.

Parish councils representing Aldbrough, Bilton, Burton Constable, Ellerby, Roos, Skidby and Withernwick raised additional issues, including noise, public safety, policing protests and lighting.

The campaign group, Fossil Free East Yorkshire commissioned a review by a planning consultant, which described the application as “fundamentally flawed”.

The group also commissioned a hydrogeological assessment, which suggested Rathlin Energy had not adequately assessed potential pollution risks.   

Mr Menzies did not mention these reports, nor an objection from the local tourist attraction, Burton Constable Hall, about the potential impact on its visitors.

The report said there were no objections from the Environment Agency, Natural England, Yorkshire Waters, Humberside Historic Environmental Record, the local highways authority, local flood and drainage teams, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, National Air Traffic Service, and council officials responsible for conservation, ecology, sustainable development, public protection and trees.

There were no responses to the application from Humberside Police, Spectrum, National Grid, Civil Aviation Authority, Garton and Humberside Airports, Ministry of Defence and the council’s rights of ways officer.

Conditions

The report recommended 20 conditions. These include a ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, which Rathlin Energy has said it did not intend to use.

If the application were approved, Rathlin must begin work on site within five years of the any permission and restore the site within 25 years.

The conditions also recommend a height limit of 15m on the flare stack, limits on operational noise and the agreement of plans covering management of traffic, construction impact on the environment, wildlife enhancement, lighting.

Reaction

Fossil Free East Yorkshire said this afternoon:

“We can only echo that drilling for oil now, in 2021, ‘is just insane’ (local councillor) and ‘beggars belief’ (Hull MP). 

“The head of the UN says it’s “code red for humanity” and the “death knell for fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet”; the International Energy Agency says “we do not need any more investments in new oil”; and the world’s top scientists just reported the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground, and our situation “is absolutely desperate”.

“This planning application in particular is inadequate, incomplete, contradicts a number of local and national policies, and is “fundamentally flawed” – as detailed in our report by Independent Planning Consultants.  Oil will have to be tankered out by hundreds of thousands of HGVs. Unbelievably, all the gas would just be wasted and burnt on site in a flare.

“So just about everybody objects to it – the local ward councillor, the Parish Councils, nearby businesses and tourist attractions like Burton Constable Hall, and over a thousand members of the public.

“And yet Approval is recommended?  Our system must be beyond broken.

“The Councillors on the Planning Committee, the same councillors who just declared a Climate Emergency must refuse this application, for all our sakes, and our future.”

Local resident, Harry Clark, who objected to Rathlin’s application, said:

“Having now read the report I am of the opinion that, the planners are considering this development in isolation and failing to comprehend the cumulative affects on the environment and local communities, of this development and potential further development at the West Newton B well site.”

Another opponent of Rathlin Energy’s proposals, Peter Hamilton, said:

“I respectfully disagree with the planning officers decision, there is a massive amount of important information missing from the planning application, despite the reports that were commissioned by Fossil Free East Yorkshire (FFEY).

“The report was carried out by a highly experienced team of consultants and was the most detailed and robust objection submitted. Despite the points raised in the FFEY report, none of them appear to have been considered in the planners report.

“FFEY submitted a further objection from an experienced hydrogeologist today. This assessment has identified a number of significant issues with the current planning application in relation to the assessment of risks to the water environment, this has also been sent to the environment agency.

“On Monday the 27th at 2pm five representatives of the immediate local communities will be afforded thirty minutes airtime with the planning Committee to represent their case for objection.”

Rathlin Energy said:

“We welcome the officers’ recommendation but recognise that the planning decision will be taken by the elected members of the council’s planning committee.”

DrillOrDrop has invited Fossil Free East Yorkshire to comment on the recommendation. This article will be updated with any new responses.

Meeting details

Pre-planning meeting 2pm, Monday 27 September 2021, County Hall, Beverley. Rathlin Energy and opponents can make presentations to East Riding of Yorkshire councillors lasting a total of 30 minutes each.

Meeting of East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s planning committee 10am, Thursday 30 September 2021, County Hall, Beverley.

  • DrillOrDrop will report on both meetings, which the council says will be livestreamed on its YouTube channel (link).

45 replies »

  1. Yes, it says UK, not US.

    However, Jack, re-read my post (6.53pm, 22 Sept) and you will see I was posting about the oil price rise in US, the usage in US and the impact of that world wide!! If you find that difficult to comprehend, then others can. Just Giggle Brent Crude Price, as a local measure-well apart from a Lib Dem who can’t. No link required, others can Giggle US data regarding US prices and even stocks and usage-and note what is happening to UK prices. Are you suggesting Brent is not moving towards $80?

    So, you trawl through to find a link to something which has nothing to do with my post, and suggest that it does. So, other forum members, that is known as what? Jack! (Or, perhaps deflection, or a smoke screen-take your pick.)

    And, your comments about inflation are just nonsense. Inflation remains a measure of rising prices-which are not historically high. Inflation is higher than it was, that is not the same. Maybe people in UK with energy bills and fuel costs to get to work realize why inflation is higher than it was? Just to help you, Jack, here in the UK when inflation figures are presented, they usually highlight the major influences that have produced the figures. All very predictable, too, with respect to opening up after Covid.

    Jack, you remind me of the poor farmer who believes that his stock will thrive on force feeding rubbish feed. Doesn’t work, Jack. And, in respect of this site, you simply insult the intelligence of the other members-who require no link, they can read my post of 6.53pm, 22 Sept. If they then find that post doesn’t give them everything they want, they can check very easily, just Giggle US oil usage, and/or stocks, and/or price.

    Still waiting for an explanation about “everything” Jack. When you can explain that FACT, (but without a LINK!) ,then maybe move on to comments about discrediting your “evidence”. First, it may be wise to show how your “evidence” is not incorrect, otherwise it looks like someone who is just thrashing around, miffed that someone has noticed. (Tendency for that, on a public forum.) Your inability to show how Shell, BP, CP, Exxon etc have been operating Ponzi schemes is also in need of correction before you can re-establish any credit. Debt to equity ratios may be a bit of an issue, but I am sure you will find a way around that. I can help you out-first find the definition of a Ponzi scheme then try and find any case where those major players have operated in that way. Happy hunting! (But, the answer is NOT a link to someone else silly enough to suggest they have.)

    It is not their responsibility, Jack. You made the post.

    Must move on, and see who my new energy supplier will be. According to the BBC it will all be so difficult, except many will have experienced exactly the same previously, and found it is not.

  2. You can’t even get it right with the help of the Guardian, Jack!

    The “record leap”-no it is not- has a lot to do with the base from which it was calculated. No link-DYOR.

    So, there you go again, demonstrating to others, so readily, how your selected links do not represent FACT but represent distortion. Next, you will find a link that shows that I should have an 8% increase in my pension!

    So, the smoke screen drifted away pretty quick, Jack. How about the everything and the Ponzi?? Still waiting

    • MARTIN ,

      Your diversionary tactics are legendary and I can see that even after my spell away from the forum, they haven’t diminished in twilight zone fantasy during the passage of time .

      Please keep it up, we all need some light entertainment during these darkened times .

      If you dispute anything JACK says, please also don’t forget to supply EVIDENCE to support your comments , or else , I’m afraid old chap , we will have to put it on file as an OPINION only .

      MARTIN , I keep posting LINKS that explain how Fracking is a debt ridden Ponzi scheme . I’m sorry if you are having difficulty reading / understanding the information as to what professional organizations / financial institutions are saying .

      I will though like to thank you for the opportunity to re-post my LINKS , as it will give me the opportunity to hammer home the message . FRACKING is nothing more than a debt ridden PONZI scheme . FACT

  3. Yes, it gives you the opportunity to post a link, that you can not then verify!

    Why not try a link regarding some of Trump’s comments?

    Would they be FACT?

    Yes, you get yourself into the same position each time, Jack. You then disappear when your false narrative has been noticed, give it a little time, and then come back with exactly the same stuff! Maybe develop some new material during your spells, as there are a few who have seen the old material many times and it was not even correct the first time.

    Reference the Guardian link, they jumped the gun. The figures, which were a one off, were misused to create a narrative-sound familiar, Jack? If they had been patient, and awaited the next set, they could have shown the real picture-which will be painful-but they have now blown their credibility-sound familiar Jack?

    However, now you have wriggled to inflation, with energy prices, (gas and oil) causing the biggest headache, then the answer is simple. If you want the price to stabilize and then come down with demand being high, and increasing, then increased production is required! I suspect there might be helpful noises, but not much will happen and the world will have a period of time (I suspect around 6 months if a normal winter) to digest how oil and gas supply, demand and prices still touch the lives of everyone on this planet, when just one of the three moves, and makes it three pretty quickly.

    However, some pensioners will be happy to anticipate the dividend income from the large oil companies into their pension pots to help pay for their higher energy bills. Other pensioners, persuaded to remove such from their pensions, then better start knitting.

    • Have a look at US drilling figures, Jack.

      Looks as if those darned Yanks are doing just as I suggested they would.

      Who knows? Perhaps it has something to do with high demand, prices around $75, costs around $40?

      Interesting little piece yesterday about the % of electricity and gas bills here in UK that were actually the cost of gas and electricity. If I was a betting chap, that will become quite a focus as more people realize how much and what they are subsidizing through their energy bills already, and what will be expected going forward.

      So, perhaps those US rig counts will keep on going upwards.

      • MARTIN ,

        ( DAISY CHAINS , )

        Your above comment regarding US drilling figures.

        I could sit here all day making ” daisy chains ” from beautiful little flowers . I could even endlessly expand my ” daisy chain ” making company and have people sat in their homes all over the UK making ” daisy chains ” .

        On paper I could show this to be a very successful company.

        IF and this is a BIG IF , I had a steady stream of nieve, gullible investors that I could entice to invest in company shares …….. Also , if I was able to continually go bankrupt and leave the mess ( daisy stalks and petals) for investors, banks and the tax payer to clean up .

        As I have said said before, US fracking has been shown to be nothing more than a toxic , environmentally damaging, climate changing, danger to human and animal health, debt ridden Ponzi scheme.

    • HAHA MARTIN ,

      Well YOU , we will never convince . Your fanatical approach, to try and promote such debt ridden, toxic industries is deeply disturbing . You must really be heavily down on your investments.

      My ” LINKS ” are supplied from reputable organizations/people who are willing to put their REAL names /companies online for ALL to view.

      You must remember ladies and gentlemen , MARTIN ONLY ever gives you his opinion and it is NEVER backed up with any evidence.

      Also please remember , as you will already be aware ………. On this site , you can hide behind ANY made up profile name . MARTIN , could be any Tom, Dick or Harry . ( My real name is not jackthelad .)

      I will MARTIN , continue to present to the public , the truth , backed up with REAL EVIDENCE .

      • OMG-Jack is away with the fairies, making daisy chains now! No wonder the regular holidays are required.

        No need to apologize for making up a fake name, Jack(?), it fits with the rest of the text, (he was a bit of a con artist ), so it helps to make some sense around the daisy chain type of nonsense, the inability to source much of the information that is in the public domain in UK, and the nonsense that Shell, BP, Exxon etc. have been taking part in a Ponzi scheme etc. etc. My own method is just insert a V into it and then it is like one of those lenses the opticians insert and text comes into focus. Perhaps there is another reason why someone should just repeat obviously false and misleading information, when the correct information is so readily available for others to research, but that works for me.

        Meanwhile, a few days and the next set of US drilling data will be released, that can be accessed by just typing in “US oil rig count” on a search engine. That is where the facts will be. Not my version of them, not Jack’s-but the real facts.

          • I looked at the date, Jack. No need to go any further.

            Really?? That is pretty weak, even for yourself.

            Of course when the oil market collapsed then debt was difficult to service, for some, except the US Government realized that a pandemic does that and mitigated against it, didn’t they Jack?!

            (Not a very good example when furlough is finishing today in UK, Jack! Another example of your problem of not knowing what is going on in UK and posting something that totally ignores the realities many are experiencing.)

            And, now, here “we” are in September 2021 when oil price is back over $75/barrel, and rig counts are rising significantly, which is helpful for the consumer who is really starting to feel the consequence of higher energy costs within their budgets, with winter upon their doorsteps and first snow in UK.

            Debt is no problem if it can be serviced, Jack. If you want to Giggle away, take a look at the history of Tesla, and see their debt to equity ratio and how that almost sunk them, at one time. I am not going to school you in capitalism Jack, but here in the UK it is part and parcel of everyday life and how most of our start up companies get going, often including re-mortgaging, which is a second debt upon a first debt! We even have our two main political parties in an arms race to see who can achieve the highest national debt figure, and the rest bidding even higher.

            So, no links needed. Just explain how oil sales at $75/barrel, demand high, and costs around $40/barrel requires any competent organization, or their share holders, to be concerned around debt? Just to help you focus, today’s date is 30/9/2021.

            • HAHA MARTIN

              There you go again , I show you the evidence that blows out of the water your “opinion ” and a week or so later your trying to SPIN the same false ” opinion ”

              A large number of American Oil and Gas companies were unable to even remotely service their debts a long time BEFORE the pandemic . This sector was riddled with debt and huge , record breaking bankruptcies many years prior to this pandemic .

              Now I have shown you evidence to support this within the last two weeks .

              So don’t try and blame the Covid Pandemic, as that is incorrect..

              I can’t understand your incapablilty to understand and take on board the facts….

              MARTIN , ,( DEBT ) is no problem if you can run up HUGE debts whilst operating and then walk away from expensive decommissioning and future maintenance costs by going bankrupt. Leaving gullible investors , banks and the tax payer to pick up the tab.

  4. And, Jack, I am sure there will be many pensioners, and others, really chuffed that as their energy prices rise there are wind farms in the UK being given money for their services? Nope. For switching off!! (see Telegraph.)

    So, as I have requested before, when there is a renewable energy system to properly replace fossil fuel, let me know, although I think the information will have to be given to those who follow.

    Up to date, I have heard nothing on this site that outlines a system that would do such, let alone with costs to the user and realistic time frame. Perhaps, alongside Cop, many will be considering that as they do their knitting?

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