Opponents of 20 years of production and six new wells at an oil field in East Yorkshire have been celebrating the refusal of planning permission.
East Riding Council’s planning committee voted by seven to five against the scheme by Rathlin Energy for its West Newton-A site in Holderness. Details here
Committee members said the site’s expansion, which would have trebled its footprint, was disproportionate and out of character for the area. They also said the number of heavy lorries expected to serve the site was unacceptable on local rural roads.
This was the first time East Riding councillors have refused a planning application from Rathlin Energy.
Harry Clark, who lives near West Newton-A, spoke against the application this morning. After the decision, he said:
“I am delighted that a majority of Councillors on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council Planning Committee, have taken into account the findings of an expert report on the unsuitability of the local roads in the area of the West Newton well site, this accords with the views of local people.
“They also agreed with the view, that the scope of the development exceeded that which fits in with the local environment thus taking account of cumulative impact, which the East Riding of Yorkshire Council Officers have clearly failed to do but which is a major local concern’.’
In a statement, the local campaign group Fossil Free East Yorkshire said:
“This was a terrible application, not just bcs of the overriding and blindingly obvious issue of climate change, but because it was incomplete, inadequate, and we believe, breached local and national policies.
“Although shocked that so many councillors still supported this plan for oil drilling, even as the climate breaks down around us, we are delighted and relieved that a majority listened to the overwhelming opposition from just about everybody, and refused it.
“Local communities campaigned hard for 7 years to prevent Holderness being industrialised into an oil field, and to save future generations from climate chaos, and at last they are being listened to.”
The ward councillor, Conservative Jacob Birch, who spoke against the application this morning, said:
“I am overjoyed to say that after an incredible amount of hard work the ERYC planning committee have to day refused permission for Rathlin’s latest application. This is a fantastic turn of events and a massive well done to all those involved in the hard work to get this far!”
A former executive at East Riding council, who criticised the planners’ recommendation to approve the West Newton-A application, described the decision as “great news”. Jon Mager, the ex director of children and adult’s services, said:
“It is very pleasing that you have some councillors who have listened, done some research and are prepared to get stuck in. This is very different from previous applications by Rathlin Energy. “
But Mr Mager said:
“It is obvious that East Riding officers advised the planning committee to “let the wrong one in”. This application was the result of Rathlin Energy getting a very large foot in the door. It is very pleasing that there are enough councillors on that committee to slam the door.”
In a statement this afternoon, Rathlin Energy, said:
“We would like to thank the planning committee for considering our application. We will now review our options before deciding on a relevant course of action to take.”
Shares in Rathlin Energy’s partners dropped on the news. Shortly after the announcement, Reabold Resources, which holds 56% of the West Newton licence, was down more than 10% at 0.16p. Union Jack Oil, which holds more than 16.5%, fell more than 7% to 20.90p and
A brief statement from Union Jack said:
“The East Riding of Yorkshire Council Planning Committee has elected to decline the Application. Further updates will be announced in due course.”
One investor said on Twitter:
“Negative update on West Newton for #RBD [Reabold Resources] and #UJO [Union Jack Oil]. But following the disappointing test result over the summer it might be good for #UJO not to spend too much more money on this asset. #RBD is in a more fragile situation.”
“So we didn’t get the development plan permission. 5 in favour/ 7 against. Was a close call. Focus now on WNA2 and getting the flowing to change poeples minds and provide equity that perhaps we can do pipeline instead of using the roads. Let’s see.”