Opposition

Campaigners seek review of go-ahead for West Newton-A oil production

Opponents of oil production in East Yorkshire are to make a last-minute bid to hold up this morning’s decision to approve.

Opponents outside East Yorkshire county hall in Beverley, 17 March 2022. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Councillors voted by 10-1, in favour of 20 years of extraction at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-A site. Their vote also allowed drilling an extra four wells, extending the site and testing the existing two boreholes.

But campaigners and residents said they would ask ministers to look again at the scheme.

The secretary of state for levelling up has the power to call in a planning application at any time up to the formal issue of the decision notice by the local authority. This can be days, sometimes weeks, after the planning meeting.

Speaking outside today’s meeting in Beverley, local councillor, Jacob Birch, said he was extremely disappointed by the result. But he said:

“I will start the process by writing to the secretary of state to ask for the decision to be called in. We will then go from there and look to start raising funds.”

Fewer than 20 applications are called in each year. If the minister agrees to a call-in, the application would go straight to a public inquiry and the council’s decision would be set aside.

Katie Atkinson, the planning consultant for the opponents, said there were grounds for the decision to be called in.

A landscaping scheme proposed by Rathlin Energy to screen West Newton-A was outside the application’s red line boundary, she said. This meant it was beyond the control of planning conditions and could not be enforced by the council.

Ms Atkinson also said the proposed route to the site for heavy lorries was not safe or suitable. It had many of the problems identified by opponents of Cuadrilla’s shale gas application for Roseacre Wood, which was refused on grounds of traffic safety.

Union Jack Oil, an investor in the West Newton project, welcomed today’s planning approval. In a statement to the stock market, the company said:

“The current crisis has made even more clear the significant domestic oil and gas supply gap that will need to be filled either by further imports or new domestic production.

“The West Newton project is expected to support security of supply, contribute to reducing the widening supply gap and bring meaningful local inward investment and employment to the East Riding, consistent with the government`s levelling-up agenda.”

Another partner, Reabold Resources, said:

“West Newton supports local investment in East Riding and contributes towards the UK’s ambitions for energy security, whilst supporting our pathway to Net Zero.”

“We are delighted by this approval and are extremely excited for the future of West Newton. We look forward to the next phase of progression towards development for this nationally significant asset.”

But a spokesperson for the We Said No campaign, told DrillOrDrop:

“We are extremely disappointed that the planning committee failed to listen to the robust arguments and material considerations put forward by councillors and our planning consultant.

“I believe the Russian conflict has overshadowed this application. It has given the councillors an excuse to approve it. There were plenty of good reasons given for refusal. Rathlin will be testing the existing wells for the first two years so there will be no oil going into production and there will be no gas. It will have no effect on UK energy supply.

“We feel due process has not been carried out. The planning officers and highways department have totally disregarded our traffic expert’s report. I do not believe anyone from the council has gone out and measured the roads as we did. I do not think they have done their job properly.”

The spokesperson said the group would continue to work with Cllr Birch and would raise money to fund any future challenge.

Richard Howarth, of Fossil Free East Yorkshire, said this afternoon:

“Fossil fuels must stay in the ground for any chance of a liveable future. 

“The head of the UN put it plainly: oil companies ‘are guilty of arson of our only home. … Delay means death.’ 

“Our government and councils have a duty to act now to protect us, and today they failed. We gave them robust grounds to refuse this application on traffic. But some councillors mistakenly saw this as a choice between the needs of local residents and the nation. In fact, it is a choice between the profits of an oil company, and a liveable future for all. 

“They sided with the oil company, and poured oil on the fires of climate change. But there is still a brief window to act; climate change is not going away and neither are we. Quite the reverse. We will continue to fight in any way we can.”

Cllr Andy Walker, who spoke at the meeting for the opponents said:

“I am terribly disappointed. We have let down future generations. We have been unable to explain the urgency of what needs to be done for the climate. It is not just about doing the good things is about stopping doing the bad things.”

32 replies »

    • The current shortages are nothing; the fossil fuels are depleting rapidly; here’s the Russian situation:

      Click to access Russian-gas-amid-market-tightness.pdf

      and intensive horizontal drilling in the US; look at the graphic of the Bakken core drilling area near the bottom of the page:

      https://richardheinberg.com/museletter-346-the-end-of-growth-ten-years-after

      I make that about 3000 square miles. The white lines represent the wells drilled so far; I haven’t yet attempted to guestimate how many. So much energy goes into drilling that for each litre produced, another quarter of a litre was burned to extract it. The more is extracted the harder it gets to extract what’s left.

      When you’re drilling as intensively as that, you know you’re scraping the bottom of a barrel. Global heating is bad enough; coping with climate catastrophe with no fuel left will be a nightmare. We need to change course NOW.

      • ‘Now’ is the operative word, Clark. We have been saying it for many years, but enough of that looking back regretfully. The position of the FF lobby is no longer tenable although its bleats are audible. How to discern what is creditable in their current position and what is ‘greenwashing’ is the problem, although the Kirby Misperton example might be one to follow. This looks like complete abandonment of FFs in order that their whole attention and funds, including subsidies, might be diverted to renewables. Of course the sickening capitalist ethos will surface here too: that’s the system we exist under and which remains for us to change. The fact that some will exploit any new source of income is no reason not to pursue the only rational course, nor is it even an argument or opportunity for snide comments.

  1. The Minority screaming louder than the Majorities, But still consuming the necessary everyday products. Rolls eyes, Climate argument by the councillor is a red herring!

    • Explain why it’s a red herring, or should we just accept your statement as authoritative.If the latter, why?

      • Transfer, 1720.

        It has been explained to you many times before but you appear incapable of understanding such a basic concept. Why should anyone bother to enlighten you again? Not just those commenting on DoD but within the findings from Wressle.

        Local supply does nothing in terms of increasing consumption. Exporters do not continue to produce when importers say they no longer want their product. Product is kept in the ground over the horizon, taken out of the ground locally. Transport emissions are reduced.

        So, “we” may accept it or not, but reality is normally authoritative.

        • “Local supply does nothing in terms of increasing consumption”

          I dispute that. Any increase of supply causes prices to drop, increasing demand. That is why only leaving fossil fuels in the ground can slow global heating; if it’s extracted, it will be burned shortly after.

          • Wrong.

            There are plenty of references to elasticity of price regarding oil. It is as inelastic as you can get. The only time that changes is if there is a local, short term, price war between suppliers. That is pretty rare these days as most suppliers have a pretty cozy relationship with each other.

            You can dispute as much as you like, but the data is easily available. You also insult the millions of people currently in the UK who are having to cut back on other things in order to continue to use the same amount of fuel, at much higher prices, to get to work.

            Your last bit is sometimes correct. If it is extracted, it will be burned shortly afterwards. Yes, in respect of oil being produced to meet demand. However, only sometimes correct as there are things called strategic reserves that are not burned shortly after.

            • “You can dispute as much as you like, but the data is easily available”

              Well link to it then.

              “You also insult the millions of people currently in the UK who are having to cut back on other things…”

              Er, that’s me, mister. I live in fuel poverty. I work in entertainments, which has been rather badly hit by the pandemic.

              Your argument is political, not physical; it works only if you assume neoliberalism, that governments may not interfere with markets. But a majority in the UK are in favour of renationalising utilities, so maybe you insult the majority. But there’s no need to get personal, eh, unless your argument is dodgy 🙂

              • Oh dear!

                Sorry Clark, I did not cotton on initially you were wanting to get across your lefty ideas.

                Your majority is twaddle. That is not the case. A large number of people in UK remember the “good old days” when they were nationalised, and do not want to return to that. Starved of investment. Strange the Tories received such a landslide when they were bucking your opinion.

                In terms of a link, you obviously have access to a search engine. Just type in a few words around price elasticity and you will find the answer, or speak to a few people about what they are going without to continue filling their tanks, and/or heating their homes. I spoke with one young couple yesterday. No holidays this year, was their decision.

                Governments always interfere with markets. That is why companies in the N.Sea are taxed so much more than other companies. That is why they become Golden Geese when their eggs are expensive, and why Governments try to keep them laying whilst opponents want them killed off to make life difficult for said Governments.

                But, I trust you find a job soon. Not sure whether it helps, but there seems to be a big recovery in the hospitality sector including considerable competition, creating long overdue wage increases. How that will pan out after those households have spent their increased savings they built up during the pandemic, time will tell.

                • Companies in the North Sea are surely “taxed so much” because they are extracting and selling oil and gas which actually belongs to the Crown. They pay the government a royalty from the proceeds they make from selling what was originally our oil and gas.

                • Indeed, Paul.

                  But thanks for agreeing they are taxed heavily.

                  All that tax that is nowhere to be seen with the production of oil and gas imports. And don’t get me started on Sovereign Wealth funds that gain the tax “over there” and then invest some of it in UK to take more profit over there.

                  So much more sensible to take back control! Even in a small way.

                • Paul seaman

                  Out of interest please let us know which countries own and produce and profit from their oil and gas reserves? I can think of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait.

                • Paul Tresto:
                  It’s interesting how these sovereign wealth funds which invest heavily in the UK, Brunei (the Dorchester hotel London), Saudi (how much property in England, Scotland and Wales and Newcastle United) Norway, The Sovereign Wealth fund, built from Norway’s oil and gas revenues and one of the biggest investors in Britain, said 8.5 percent of its portfolio was in British equities, bonds and real estate.
                  Qatar wealth fund owned Sainsburys supermarkets and as for the Russian Oligarchs, Tony Blair’s government let in all use there importation money in which we buy their commodities INVEST IN BRITAIN!!

            • “only sometimes correct as there are things called strategic reserves that are not burned shortly after.”

              Huh. The UK had a strategic reserve of gas, at the Rough gas field in the North Sea. Blair’s mob sold it to Centrica Storage, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Centrica Energy, on a contract that required them to maintain it. They played the market with it instead – obviously, they wouldn’t have bought it if they couldn’t have made money from it. By the time they’d worn it out, repeatedly pumping it up and depressurising it, and doing nothing to maintain it, Cameron’s mob were in power, and let them out of the contract without repairing it. The UK is now unique in Europe having paltry reserves of gas. “You insult the millions of people with gas bills” etc. etc. etc…

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Petroleum_Reserve_(United_States)

              “The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is an emergency stockpile of petroleum maintained by the United States Department of Energy (DOE). It is the largest known emergency supply in the world. […] As of December 4, 2021, the inventory was 593.6 million barrels (94,370,000 m3). This equates to about 29 days of oil at 2019 daily U.S. consumption levels of 20.54 million barrels per day (3,266,000 m3/d)[3] or 60 days of oil at 2019 daily U.S. import levels of 9.141 million barrels per day (1,453,300 m3/d)”

              29 to 60 days is a long time in your universe, is it? Supply and demand doesn’t apply over timescales longer than that, eh? I thought the West Newton site had applied for a twenty year licence.

              • Paltry reserves of gas? I suspect you have conflated storage. If UK has reserves of gas then maybe it requires less storage?

                I think you will find UK has quite a lot of gas stored underground. Trouble is there are some who want it to stay there!

                However, that will soon be rectified.

              • Rough was a British Gas field. It was closed as the wells, in particular the wellheads, were derated due to age and corrosion. This significantly reduced the amount of gas that could be stored. The costs to work over the wells were prohibitive and the government, quite rightly, refused to pay an open ended cost so the rough field was or is being decommissioned.

        • “Product is kept in the ground over the horizon, taken out of the ground locally.”

          Really? Last time I checked, emissions were not only rising every year, they were rising faster every year. There’s no sign of anyone leaving it in the ground, except where there’s so little left that it’s too expensive to extract.

          You also seem unaware of the global fuel shortages, eg. Albania’s state of emergency, China cutting back industrial production to keep domestic lights on, Lebanon’s rolling blackouts due to lack of diesel, the consortium of European industrial producers’ joint statement to the EU that major plant has closed due to high energy prices, aluminium producers closing production because they can make more money reselling the energy they bought in advance on contract… Here’s Bloomberg’s top energy columnist, Javier Blas; masses of info linked from his Twitter stream:

          Depletion is upon us. Time to stop scraping the bottom of the fossil fuel barrel and build something sustainable. While we still have enough fuel left to build anything at all.

          • Another area you have not researched adequately. There is no depletion globally. Some of the largest oil reserves are hardly producing anything currently! Saudi are finding huge new reserves of gas. Iran has also been very limited in output by sanctions.

            I think you will find that oil and gas supplies prior to the Ukraine war was a reflection of sudden increases in demand post Covid, that caused a rapid price increase with production failing to keep up with that increased demand. Opec+ can adjust that pretty quickly, once they have made up for what they lost in 2020. Maybe that is why Boris is talking to them?

            There is no reason to conflate the use of fossil fuel with something sustainable. One does not preclude the other, indeed funding directly or indirectly, from fossil fuel is enabling renewables to be developed.

            Reference emissions rising faster every year, then just take a look at the rise in the percentage and numbers of so called middle class in the worlds population. And, then how they spend disposable income. It is not rocket science, it doesn’t take much effort, just sit down with a few families who are coming into that situation and discuss what their intentions are. Then, have a weekend in London, and see them doing it[edited by moderator].

            But, back to the substance of this situation that you have attempted to deflect from:

            How is local oil to the area where the demand exists, going to produce more emissions than bringing it from thousands of miles away? I have provided the answer many times-it will reduce such emissions-but your attempt to come up with something different would be interesting. It might also be of great concern to all those who make a living operating farm shops, or, more likely, give them a laugh.

            • [Edited by moderator – removed text refers to comment which has itself been removed]

              “There is no depletion globally”

              That is a physical impossibility with a finite resource, and I expect you’re aware of all the fields that have peaked and are now in terminal decline.

              “How is local oil to the area where the demand exists, going to produce more emissions than bringing it from thousands of miles away? I have provided the answer many times-it will reduce such emissions”

              Not only do you speak to people as if they were idiots, you seem to take them for such as well. Sorry, extracting and hence burning hydrocarbons cannot possibly reduce emissions; the best you can hope is that emissions rise less fast.

              • Ermm, sorry another error. If someone has a bonfire in their back garden they produce less emissions than someone who trucks same amount of rubbish to their garden and then burns it! It is simple arithmetic and physics.
                The use of hydrocarbons in UK will continue, whether they are produced locally or have to be trucked/shipped in.

                If you did not make such silly claims that are fantasy, you might find they are accepted with more gravitas.

                Ermm, sorry are you not aware of Venezuela. Sitting there as a stranded asset. Will not sit there as such for ever. Largest reserves in the world. I can add a number of other major potential producers who have a similar issue.

                So far no cigar.

              • Depletion is reduction of proven 3P reserves. These are reserves which have been discovered, appraised and tested. Plenty more not discovered yet. So the finite resource is unknown, only the proven reserves are known and by definition can be depleted. If more reserves are discovered in a time period than the amount produced then depletion is negative.

        • Because, Martin, except for you, nothing is as simple as you would like it to be and as you pronounce it to be. As you have been informed so many times that I really am hesitant to tell you again, your arithmetic is invalid to the point of negation, 1 new well plus 1 old well, no replacement, no transfer, (despite what your ‘market’ tells you necessarily follows), therefore real arithmetic, equals 2 planet- endangering wells. Now that really is simple despite, as I say, your market dogma which controls you, your ability to think, and your magisterial disdain for your interlocutors. Transport emissions, bad, are not relevant to this point.
          The Wressle ‘findings’ (if memory serves) were the scientifically suspect opinion of one person. About as conclusive as your suspect opinions based, apparently, upon a reluctance to accept the anthropogenic nature of global heating.

          • Iaith1720 quoting Martin Frederick Collyer:

            “…a reluctance to accept the anthropogenic nature of global heating.”

            Thanks Iaith; I didn’t realise we had a reality denier here.

            • Except it was not a quote from Martin Collyer, Clark!

              [Edited by moderator]

              One old well, shut, is dead, caput, no longer capable of life, extinct, endangering no one. One new “parrot”, reared locally, will be endangering less people than the old, now dead one, as it has not had to fly all that way to get here and may have introduced avian flu whilst doing so.

    • “The Minority […] still consuming the necessary everyday products.”

      What’s this, a morals charge? Only those pure enough to burn zero carbon may object to extraction? Well we may as well give up and roast our only home then; I’m sure that would be for the best.

  2. More of someone elses money down the drain while some of them make a nice earning from it.

      • Try reading the comment before replying to it:

        some of them make a nice earning from it.”

        “Earning”, not corruption. And only “some of them”, or are you claiming that no one will make a profit? If so, better to cancel it now.

  3. Meanwhile, reported in Hull Live yesterday:

    Police warn of rise in oil thefts across East Yorkshire due to soaring fuel prices.

    Perhaps some extra security jobs at the site?

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