Plans by Egdon Resources to drill for oil in Lincolnshire will not cut energy bills, opponents said during a 17-mile pilgrimage between two proposed sites.
The company has argued that its plans for North Kelsey Moor and Biscathorpe could reduce oil imports into the UK at a time of high prices caused by the war in Ukraine.
But during the pilgrimage on Saturday, Amanda Suddaby, a member of the campaign group, SOS North Kelsey, said:
“People assume these sites will help with our energy crisis and bring down prices but when you look at the facts, that’s simply not the case.
“They will produce miniscule amounts of oil, and there is no guarantee that it will stay in the UK.
“Oil prices are dictated by a global market and oil companies export 80% of UK oil.”
Government data, reported monthly by DrillOrDrop, shows that more than 98% of oil produced in the UK is extracted offshore. According to the most recent figures (February 2022), 1.7% of UK-produced oil was from onshore fields.
A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last month concluded that current and planned new fossil fuel infrastructure would cause the world to exceed the internationally-agreed limit on temperature rise of 1.5C. To meet this limit, global emissions must peak by 2025 and be cut by 45% by 2030.
Ms Suddaby said the war in Ukraine had not changed those conclusions:
“Fuel price increases caused by the war won’t be affected by production from these sites. They aren’t even close to producing oil yet, so they make no sense.
“But improving energy efficiency and rapid development of renewables will protect us from unstable oil supplies, high energy prices and the climate crisis.”
The pilgrimage was organised by Faith and the Environment Lincolnshire, in conjunction with SOS North Kelsey and SOS Biscathorpe.
Organiser Sandie Stratford said:
“Many people feel strongly about the climate emergency, and it was this that prompted us to make a pilgrimage from North Kelsey Moor to Biscathorpe.
“England has a strong tradition of pilgrimage as protest. I walked the Camino to COP from London to Glasgow for COP26 last year, and I found that walking together has a profound effect on people.”
Geoff Stratford, a member of the Lincoln Climate Commission, said:
“According to the recent IPCC report, ‘by 2030, about 250 million people may experience high water stress in Africa, with up to 700 million people displaced as a result.’ That’s half the population of Africa. We must not be complicit in this crime against humanity.”
At the end of the walk, participants unfurled bunting displaying the names of 10 parish councils and two district council areas that have opposed Egdon’s plans.
One of the pilgrims, Imogen Wilde, said:
“I walked today with my father and my daughter because Egdon’s plans to drill here will cause immediate habitat and landscape destruction, will threaten the fragile chalk stream and will accelerate global climate change through the release of new fossil fuels.”
Another pilgrim, Sarah from Horncastle, explained why she took part:
“Because I am worried for my child’s future and I wanted to be with passionate people who feel compelled to act. This act of solidarity in the face of untold danger was really important to me.”
Egdon’s application for Biscathorpe was refused by Lincolnshire County Council on 1 November 2021.
On 14 March 2022, the council also rejected the company’s plans for North Kelsey.
Egdon has until October to appeal against the North Kelsey refusal. It has already appealed against the Biscathorpe decision.
The company is seeking to have the Biscathorpe appeal decided by written representations, rather than a public inquiry. But campaigners will be asking the Planning Inspectorate to hear both appeals in public at full inquiries because of the wider public interest.