Arguments over Biscathorpe oil production to be made at appeal hearing

Two sides in the planning dispute over long-term oil production in the Lincolnshire Wolds get the chance to put their case at a hearing next week.

Biscathorpe oil exploration site, Lincolnshire, 6 January 2019. Photo: Eddie Thornton

The oil company, Egdon Resources, appealed against a refusal of planning permission by Lincolnshire County Council last year.

The company wanted to drill a sidetrack well at its Biscathorpe site in the Area of Outstanding Natural  Beauty (AONB) and extract oil for 15 years.

But the council’s planning committee blocked the scheme, by 7 votes to 4, because it said it would harm the AONB and noise from the scheme would be unacceptable.

The decision, the Conservative-controlled authority, was made as world leaders gathered for the COP26 climate summit nearly a year ago.

The key issues will now be examined at a one-day appeal hearing in Louth.

The government-appointed planning inspector, Paul Thompson, is expected to focus on whether the Biscathorpe site is a suitable location for oil production and what benefits of the scheme should be taken into account.

Lincolnshire County Council planning meeting on Biscathorpe, 1 November 2021. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Lincolnshire County Council is expected to argue that the public benefits do not outweigh the harm to the Lincolnshire Wolds AONB and the amenities of nearby homes. It has said the proposal is unacceptable because the company has not made a formal commitment for ecological improvements, continuous aftercare and a community liaison group.

Egdon Resources has said its proposal is appropriate development in the AONB and granting planning permission would “enable the achievement of substantial economic and environmental benefits associated with indigenous extraction and security of supply”.

Local people, including the campaign group, SOS Biscathorpe, are expected to present their arguments at the hearing.

SOS Biscathorpe said today:

“We fully support the decision taken by Lincolnshire County Council. We are relying on the council to make a robust defence of the refusal of planning permission made to protect the AONB and local rural communities.”

Egdon Resources has estimated that the Biscathorpe wellsite could extract almost four million barrels of oil.

But a report by Friends of the Earth estimated that burning the oil would produce 1.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Opponents had calculated that the carbon emissions in one year would be nearly 10 times the council’s entire carbon saving target for 2023.

Hearing details

The hearing is at Kenwick Park Hotel, near Louth, on Tuesday 11 October 2022, from 10am-5pm.

The hearing is not as long or as formal as a public inquiry. It is described as a “structured discussion”, where the inspector asks questions about the main issues.

A document setting out the arrangements for the hearing said:

“All participants will be given a fair chance to address the points raised by the inspector”.

The inspector said he “appreciates that feelings may be running high in the local community”.

There were more than 200 local objections to the original planning application and a petition opposing the scheme had more than 1,800 signatures.

Opponents included the local MP Victoria Atkins, Lincolnshire Climate Commission, the countryside charity CPRE, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and five parish councils closest to the site.

The inspector has said he will not “tolerate clapping, cheering, booing or other expressions of agreement or disagreement” at the hearing. He has also said he will not allow banners, placards, posters or other imagery to be displayed at the event.

A visit to the Biscathorpe site is expected to follow the closing of the hearing. Egdon Resources has said uneven surfaces and potential for standing water on the site may “present some issues” for people with limited mobility.

Draft agenda

  • Introduction and opening
  • Planning policy
  • Main issues:
  • Whether the appeal site is a suitable location and its effect on the Lincolnshire Wolds AONB – focussing on the duration, equipment needed, landscape on visual impact
  • Benefits of the scheme that should be taken into account
  • Other issues
  • Planning conditions
  • Costs
  • Site visit arrangements

DrillOrDrop will be reporting from the appeal hearing

11 replies »

  1. Good to see the FOE so switched on!

    Same argument used at Wressle, but rejected. Transfer of production to a local source was the reason for rejection.

    Now, there will be the repeat of the nonsense maths., but if one player is transferred in the Premiership he doesn’t continue to play for his previous club as well as playing for his new one!

  2. X+1 does not equal X
    One new well in the UK does NOT close down or replace existing wells already in production elsewhere. It is simply ADDITIONAL fossil fuel output.
    The International Energy Agency stated months ago that the world cannot afford to burn EXISTING KNOWN reserves and stand any chance of maintaining 1.5 degrees of warming, ie. a habitable planet.

    • Nope, alex/1720, UK demand does not change so production does not change.

      Perhaps have a look at the endless meetings between the OPEC producers and how they reflect changes in demand with things called valves. Not always, but most of the time.

      I have been exporting a product to a country. I lose a customer in that country. I stop producing for that customer. I do not shut down, I reduce output. Someone, maybe in the country of the lost customer, picks up the business. No increase, just transfer. With wells it is quite easy as they decline-quite quickly in USA fracked ones. So less are drilled if demand disappears. Data available to confirm that.

      I am not sure you have much chance of influencing anything until you manage to understand the difference between demand and production, and how they are linked. For the younger generation, my grandson may demand a banana when he is in my house, but he will not get another one when he goes home. His demand has just been transferred. To claim different is just bananas. Mum’s bananas just last longer. Grandson’s banana consumption-demand-remains unchanged. All facts. Funny things facts. Majority know all about them, a small minority don’t but think it helps their case to try and distort facts to the majority who do know what facts are. A strange and desperate concept.

      • Maybe not as simple as you suggest, Martin. The document below discusses price elasticity in natural gas – how much price increases cut demand (and so price decreases would increase demand). While there are many factors affecting demand, it appears that price is a factor.

        So, if you produce more gas, and prices fall due to greater availability, demand for natural gas may rise.

        Click to access Annex_D_Gas_price_elasticities.pdf

        To extend your banana metaphor – if your grandson has fixed pocket money and a craving for bananas, his consumption of bananas may rise if the banana price falls due to increased production.

        • Maybe not as simple as you suggest, Paul. The reader that is.

          Price elasticity of oil is different to that of gas or diamonds. Biscathorpe is about oil.

          You might as well quote any other product. Why not another carbon, like diamonds? Yes, many women would buy more if they were cheap as chips, few would buy more petrol and drive to work twice. My grandson’s mother continues to buy the same amount of petrol each week, even though it now costs £70 instead of £50, so she will not be buying diamonds. She struggles to afford bananas, and therefore he is rationed on bananas but not on going to a child minder in Mum’s car and then she goes to work. Hence grandad helps out with his bananas, and her fuel cost, and her bananas last longer. He has not increased his consumption of bananas. Mum cannot afford to provide him with pocket money as bananas are being shipped thousands of miles and the fuel is dearer, so she is working hard to get him eating English apples.

          Besides, Biscathorpe will not produce more oil, it will replace currently imported oil both of which are expensive and likely to become more so. Biscathorpe output, much to the disappointment of many, will have no impact upon the price of oil in the UK. It would have an impact on transport emissions however, a good one.

          So, I go apples, DoD goes bananas. I would suggest I am the real friend of the earth.

      • OR…i’ve been selling to a customer in the UK, but now a new producer in the UK is offering my product at a lower price…..this causes that customer & others to buy more.

        • BUT, oil not being offered at a lower price in UK. But, contributing some income in UK via taxation. And if lots of income, then a windfall tax is applied and lots of taxation that is then sent out to the consumer to help pay their energy bills. Shouldn’t need to explain that to anyone who is currently alive and currently living in UK. My next bit, £67, should
          appear in my Octopus account this month.
          Price elasticity of oil is low. Now children, what does that mean? It means that the demand for oil doesn’t change significantly when the price for it changes. (Investopedia.) That is the situation for UK and has been for many years. For those of you in N. Korea, sorry but your situation is somewhat different.

    • Something is here. I could smell it festering. When the arithmetic fails and then the ignorance about what a fact is combine together, then I believe it may be called a perfect storm.

      Meanwhile, the CEO of Aramco has reminded the world to raise their eyes from recession and warns that oil supply is so tight that as and when economies move away from recession, especially China, then the increase in price of oil will be felt keenly. The way that could be avoided? Increased production. Good job there are some educated people left.

  3. Not to worry about OPEC+ announcing a cut of 2m barrels of oil, as there are experts (lol) who reckon oil output cannot be turned up or down! So, as the narrative needs to be maintained the reality won’t happen.
    Doesn’t look as if all those tambourines at COP26 and pontification about stranded assets has won many friends.

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