Regulation

Date set for Isle of Wight oil drilling decision

Councillors on the Isle of Wight will decide later this month whether to give the go-ahead for oil exploration at Arreton.

Site of UKOG’s proposed Arreton oil site, 23 March 2020. Photo: Don’t Drill The Wight

A planning application by UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) will come before the island’s planning committee on 19 October 2021. This is less than a fortnight before the UK hosts international climate talks in Glasgow.

UKOG is seeking consent for three years to drill vertical and sidetrack wells to explore for oil under farmland between Newport and Sandown.

The company has said its plans would “make the best use” of mineral resources in the transition to a low carbon future.

The scheme has been opposed by the local MP, the campaign group Don’t Drill The Wight, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Isle of Wight Biosphere Reserve and council officers responsible for trees and rights of way. A public consultation attracted more than 3,400 objections.

A recommendation by planning officers on whether to approve or refuse the application is expected by 12 October 2021.

UKOG’s proposed Arreton wells on the Isle of Wight. Source: UKOG diplay panel

DrillOrDrop invited UKOG to respond to news of the imminent planning meeting. This article will be updated with any comments from the company.

Don’t Drill The Wight said:

“At a time when our government is touting its need to be at the forefront of action to reduce global emissions, it is imperative that local councils should have the right stand and reject all unproven, uneconomical, unsustainable and unproductive developments when they threaten their local environments, but ultimately, the health of the planet.”

The group said the council, elected in May 2021, had produced two recent documents that were relevant to the application: an updated Draft Island Plan and a Mission Zero Climate and Environment Strategy. The group said:

“We trust that our planning committee will be inspired by these aspirations of the Isle of Wight Council and support our local communities by rejecting UKOG’s application for Arreton.

“We also hope that they will also be encouraged by the double forthright rejection by Surrey County Council of the Dunsfold/Loxley Site and the decision by East Yorkshire Councillors to reject 20 years of oil production and an additional six wells at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton.”

Don’t Drill The Wight said the Island Plan had a role in “protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment”. It would also help to improve biodiversity, use natural resources prudently, minimise waste and pollution and adapt to climate change, the group added.

The zero climate strategy would, the group said, be key to creating a sustainable future for the island. Together with other strategies, the document would “support our valuable yet fragile environment and our status as a UNESCO biosphere reserve”.

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