Regulation

Rathlin Energy’s production plans should be refused again, say residents

Councillors have been urged to again refuse plans for 20 years of oil production by Rathlin Energy in East Yorkshire.

Photo: West Newton Said No

The company failed to get consent for expansion proposals at West Newton-A in Holderness in September 2021, despite the support of council officers.

A revised application for the site is due to be decided by East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) next week.

Residents and local campaigners said this afternoon:

“This revised application is very similar indeed – and we say it should be refused again”.

The new proposals are to drill four more production wells to add to the existing two. The original plan was for six new wells.

Rathlin Energy also seeks to extend the site from the current 0.9ha to 2.52ha. The previous application sought an extension to 3.46ha.

The duration of production remains unchanged at up to 20 years and estimated lorry movements to the site are still the same. But the company said it may need to drill additional sidetrack or lateral sections to the new and existing wells.

Helen Wright, who lives on the proposed route for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) through New Ellerby, said:

“We have had our lives disrupted by the activities at West Newton for nearly 10 years already. We have put up with HGV convoys through the villages, noise and light pollution and unpleasant odours.

“People’s mental and physical health are suffering at the prospect of 25 more years of this, especially now we know the plan is to drill underneath our houses.

“It is being said that we need our own source of energy in the UK. But drilling at West Newton isn’t the answer.

“After 10 years there is still no oil flowing. If it does eventually flow it will be sold globally to the highest bidder, and any gas produced is going to be burnt off.

“Surely it must be better for everyone to invest in renewable energy and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, rather than pollute and industrialise our countryside and make the lives of local communities unbearable.”

Another resident on the route, Harry Clark, said:

“In September 2021 the ERYC Planning Committee came to the conclusion that any more than two wells on the West Newton A Well Site would overload the capacity of the local roads and bring unnecessary hardship to the communities around the well site.

“This conclusion should be adhered to by the ERYC Planning Committee in its forthcoming discussion of the revised planning application submitted by Rathlin Energy.

“There has been no change in the local infrastructure, any increase in traffic would, as previously concluded, overload the roads and bring unnecessary hardship to local residents.”

This morning, council planners recommended approval of the new application. They said the proposals were consistent with local and national policy.

But the campaign group, Fossil Free East Yorkshire, said it had commissioned independent planning consultants who had identified 11 planning grounds for refusal:

  1. Proposed traffic routes are not safe or suitable for many heavy goods vehicles
  2. Traffic appraisal does not mention plans for additional sidetrack wells and resulting heavy goods movements
  3. Significant lack of information in the transport assessment to meet policy requirements
  4. Lack of information about construction of the well pad and its current condition
  5. Insufficient information to support conclusions about risks to groundwater or from flooding
  6. Cumulative impact on the landscape
  7. Landscape assessment does not consider the worst-case impacts of tall structures on the site at the same time
  8. Detrimental effect of noise on nearby homes
  9. Visual impact of noise screens
  10. No clear biodiversity net gain
  11. Extraction of new fossil fuels is contrary to the government’s commitment to reaching net zero emissions by 2050

Richard Howarth, of Fossil Free East Yorkshire, said:

“This Planning Application was refused before, and it should be refused again. Those country roads are no wider, and the tankers are no smaller, so the routes are still ‘unsafe and unsuitable’.

“But traffic is just one of many grounds for refusal that planning experts have listed, from visual impact to climate change. The site won’t even supply any gas, as shockingly, it will all be burnt on site, and wouldn’t supply oil for years – if ever.

“Now more than ever, we must urgently get off increasingly dangerous fossil fuels. Last week’s landmark IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report said a liveable future remains within reach – just. But the window to act is ‘brief and rapidly closing’. The head of the UN said, ‘now is the time to accelerate the transition to a renewable future. Fossil fuels are a dead end.’”

The planning meeting is at 10am on Thursday 17 March 2022 at County Hall in Beverley

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