N Kelsey oil plans “clear and obvious conflict” with UK climate commitments – expert

The plan to drill for oil near the Lincolnshire village of North Kelsey conflicts with the UK’s international commitments to tackle climate change, a leading scientist has warned.

Opponents of Egdon Resources’ North Kelsey oil plans. Photo: SOS North Kelsey

Professor Kevin Anderson, who holds professorships at three universities and is a former petroleum engineer, was responding to proposals by Egdon Resources, which will be considered by a planning inspector at a hearing next month.

In a report to the inspector, Professor Anderson, said:

“Building on the evidence presented here, alongside my thirty years’ experience analysing issues of energy and climate change, with a specific focus on the UK, I can come to only one conclusion.

“The North Kelsey proposal is in clear and obvious conflict with both the letter and spirit of the UK Government’s expressed climate commitments as signatory to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992) and all subsequent climate protocols, including the Paris Agreement (2015) and the Glasgow Climate Pact (2021).”

Egdon is appealing against a refusal of planning permission in March 2022 for more time to develop the North Kelsey site. Currently, the only work carried out has been on the entrance. This is the third request by Egdon for a time extension to the permission first granted in 2014.

Prof Anderson also quoted from an influential 2013 report on potential greenhouse emissions from shale gas extraction and use. The authors, former government scientific advisor, Professor David MacKay, and Dr Timothy Stone, concluded:

“If a country brings any additional fossil fuel reserve into production then [in the absence of strong climate policies], we believe it is likely that this production would increase cumulative emissions in the long run. This increase would work against global efforts on climate change.”

The UK onshore oil and gas industry often argues that domestically-produced fossil fuels would displace imports and not increase overall global production.

Egdon has said it could extract 6.5 million barrels of oil from North Kelsey.

Professor Anderson estimated the extraction and burning of the oil was likely to produce 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the life of the site.

This would be more than 600 times the total emission cut achieved by Lincolnshire County Council’s carbon management plan over six years, he said. The council expects that emissions from all its activities for the six years to 2022 will be down by 20%, or 4,800 tonnes of CO2e, compared with 2016.

Professor Anderson said:

“the emissions from this single development completely overwhelm all the efforts of the county council to gets its own carbon emissions in order.”

Professor Anderson is one of several experts who have produced reports for the local campaign group, SOS North Kelsey, which is opposing Egdon’s plans.

Amanda Suddaby, a local resident and member of SOS North Kelsey, commented on the predicted emissions from the site compared with Lincolnshire’s cuts in CO2:

“Comparisons like this illustrate the imperative for our decision-makers to understand the implications of allowing such developments and to act accordingly before it is too late.”

“Parts of Lincolnshire may become uninhabitable”

The appeal hearing, on 14-15 June 2023, will also consider a statement on North Kelsey’s potential impact on climate change from Dr Mark Schuerch, associate professor of physical geography at Lincoln University.

He said:

“Some areas of Lincolnshire may become uninhabitable if climate change is not mitigated.”

He added:

“mid- to long-term climate change risks in Lincolnshire are very significant. And by far the most (cost-) efficient way of addressing these increasing risks is to drastically reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, including the use of fossil fuels to satisfy energy needs, and mitigate climate change.”

Ms Suddaby said:

“The findings of these professionals, serve as a stark warning of the impact of any new oil drilling. Climate change is already having a devastating effect across the world, and there is no justification for any new fossil fuel exploration anywhere.

“People are not only concerned about the immediate and direct impact upon our communities; we are also increasingly aware of the desperate state of nature in the UK and the global threat of climate change caused by fossil fuels.”

“Out-of-date ecology report”

Location of Egdon Resources’ oil site. Montage: SOS North Kelsey

SOS North Kelsey also commissioned reports for the inspector on planning, highways and ecology.

The ecology report by JBA Consulting said greater consideration should be given to the impact of the North Kelsey proposal on wildlife.

The site is known to support several bird species threatened with extinction (red-listed), such as skylark, lapwing, yellowhammer and barn owls

Ms Suddaby said Egdon’s ecology report was out of date and she described the company’s mitigation plans as “pitiful”:

“These once-common species are disappearing from our landscape. Since 1970, 73 million birds have been lost according to the British Trust for Ornithology.

“We can’t keep pushing wildlife species into the ever-decreasing margins of our countryside and hope they will somehow survive.”

11 replies »

    • And planning laws were strengthened to take full account of climate change impact ie total emissions for the duration and that our government complied with the legally binding net zero obligations too?

  1. Just to repeat, decisions about energy policy should consider green issues such as carbon and pollution, BUT also cost ( risk of fuel poverty), security (risk of attacks on pipelines and offshore facilities) and 24/7 reliability (risk of blackouts in low wind, low sunlight periods).

    Attacks on fossil fuel developments n the U.K. will have no effect on worldwide climate but will result in increased dependence on morally questionable foreign suppliers.

    • This development is for NEW OIL EXPLORATION. It’s not going to produce any oil for probably 2-3 years – if ever. It certainly isn’t the solution to fuel poverty. IF they find anything, it will be sold at global prices and could be exported. It is over-reliance on oil & gas that has created fuel poverty. Best solution for fuel poverty is insulation and energy-efficiency, and cheaper renewables.
      This site won’t provide fuel security. The estimated reserve is tiny – easily replaced by renewables.
      Investment in oil exploration is hardly “reliable” – they might not find anything at all, even if they do, it will run out eventually, whereas the sun will shine and the wind will blow for ever more.
      Every drop of CO2 emitted contributes to the climate crisis and every investment in fossil fuels thwarts the necessary transition. By far the best way of becoming not dependent on “morally questionable foreign suppliers” (do you mean Norway?) is by switching to renewables.

  2. “Parts of Lincolnshire may become uninhabitable”.
    Meaningless and scaremongering.
    Why no date given?
    Go ahead, stop all oil and gas being used in Lincolnshire from January 1st 2024, whether home produced or from abroad, including all products made using oil and gas and start a mass location of solar panels and wind turbines all over the county from August 1st 2023 and let’s see how everybody gets through next Winter and all the rest of the subsequent Winters through to 2030 or even 2050 when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine?
    Then you’ll understand what uninhabitable means in my opinion.
    By the way Ms Suddaby how many birds are and have been affected by the construction of already existing wind turbines, all of whom will require new blades within the next 20+ years and the old blades to be buried or recycled – costs a lot of energy to recycle anything – and the same goes for solar panels and all the nasties they contain.
    Oh, I forget the huge batteries required to store the energy from our beloved panels and turbines produced when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. Where do you put those?
    Will there be any room in the county left for the odd nuclear power plant?
    Any room for a hydrogen producing plant?
    But we don’t want those because they require gas.
    And surely we’ll have to improve our storage of water, so perhaps a a couple more reservoirs might come in handy.
    And what about producing food for the existing and increasing population? Demand won’t be going down I think.
    I shouldn’t really say this but I shall probably be glad to be dead in 10 years time.
    In the meantime thank you for all the dialysis equipment etc, derived from oil based plastic, that keeps me alive at present.
    Ps that large banner in the photo above rather looks as if it is made from an oil based substance – possibly made in the same factory as all those hi-viz jackets and banners that the brainwashed Just Stop Oil protesters carry around in huge numbers. Fancy following anything that [edited by moderator] Roger Hallam says. Did you see that photo of Roger in hospital with his poorly leg surrounded by all those products derived from oil, including his precious mobile phone and charger.
    Hypocrite.Mind you XR got shot of him so perhaps Just Stop Thinking might do likewise.

  3. It’s worth looking at the picture of Egdon’s Wressle oil site on Drill or Drop’s May 19th post. The site produces about 24,000 gallons of crude oil a day, safely and cleanly, doesn’t kill any wild birds and is only uses a tiny area of land which would otherwise be farmed. Associated methane production is now being used to produce onsite electricity and may be fed into local gas networks. The amount produced is only a tiny fraction of the 30,000,000 gallons of refined crude products used EVERYDAY in the U.K.

    By the way in the background of this photo is a common or garden electricity pylon which dwarfs the Wressle facility. We tend to accept these hideous structures, why, because they are vital, and the benefit far outweighs the harm. It’s worth thinking about that in relation to North Kelsey.

  4. “ “Some areas of Lincolnshire may become uninhabitable if climate change is not mitigated.”.
    Well, recent reach shows that, in recent years, many areas of the earth have become greener with a higher “leaf coverage index”. The U.K. is one of these areas. Leaf cover helps to cool the land in two ways, by increasing CO2 use and roughening the earth’s surface making wind more efficient at cooling. On a personal note in my area of SE England I have never, in over 60 years, seen the countryside looking so lush as it has in the last few years. I suspect if Lincolnshire becomes greener and warmer, it will be far from uninhabitable but rather an increasingly productive agricultural area.

  5. Climate science and the scientific fact is that the world is heating. This is this stressing our global ecosystems and we are rapidly losing our essential biodiversity. I am so tired of hearing the excuses from the fossil fuel and plastic supporters when when the alarming reality and facts are screaming of the warnings at us. The cherry picking of facts and ignoring the facts of the long term changes in climate is commonplace.
    The change in our climate here in the U.K. are already being experienced. We have year on year increased temperatures, communities are suffering from increased flooding and the rising temperatures are playing a part in the fact that over the last 20 years there has been a 60% decline of our flying insects with massive implications for the U.K. food security. These are just a few examples of the negative impacts that are already here.
    And our over production and use of plastics has resulted in a huge global pollution problem, harming and killing sea life and filling not only our oceans, land and air with pollution but we now have micro plastics found in our blood and lungs. Plastic production involves toxic chemicals and some of the chemicals in plastics are known to be harmful to health. And now scientific research has shown that recycling plastics also creates billions of micro plastic particles that are released into our water and air, so is a questionable solution to the global plastic problem.
    And the Woodland Trust report that whilst “woodland cover is gradually increasing, woodland wildlife continues to decrease. Much of the woodland cover that has been increasing include non-native trees, while native woodlands are isolated and in poor ecological condition — in fact, the conservation charity reports that just 7 per cent of native woodland in Britain is currently in good ecological condition overall.” In other words are native trees are being adversely affected by the change to our climate and habitats.
    The choke hold that the fossil fuel industry and plastics have had on our lives needs to be broken. Both need to be limited to situations where there is no credible alternative and there is already scope now for a massive reduction of both, with investment, the will and strategy.
    The point about fuel poverty alex 9391 is correct. Have U.K. energy costs reduced because of production in the North Sea? No, of course not. In fact North Sea fossil fuels increased in price just like all the other producers. And the greatest energy security of all comes from renewable, green energy, away from the geopolitics of fossil fuels.
    The writing has been on the wall for years. Just as our coastline disappears at pace before our eyes because of rising sea levels, we can continue to ignore the reality and science or we can embrace change, acknowledge it won’t always be easy but it is undoubtedly our only choice.

  6. Well, I noted another expert who gave his views, Al Kaabi-Qatars Energy Minister.

    He was correct. Events have proven he was correct. He will be correct going forward. Watch out for a cold European winter and the world economy restarting. “We” ain’t seen nothing yet. Germany in recession is just a taster, with them playing hokey-cokey with coal and nuclear. (Unless Qatar or US frackers ride to the rescue-and at what cost? By the way, no Windfall Tax is applied to US or Qatar sourced gas and oil, so there isn’t anything there to divi up when the effluent hits the fan.))

    Transition is being managed terribly and apart from politicians the usual suspects can pop up on DoD as many times as they like, but the reality will remain. The “experts” will vanish when the effluent hits the fan, more politicians will lose their jobs due to getting transition wrong and Joe public will pay the price.

    Meanwhile, the same Prof. Sir David MacKay also wrote:

    “There is this appalling delusion that people have that we can take this thing (renewables) and we can just scale it up and if there is a slight issue of it not adding up, then we can just do energy efficiency. Humanity really does need to pay attention to arithmetic and physics”.

    That was in 2016. Since then? Oh yes, the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine, (my Grandson who is two and a half already knows that!) so kerching, here’s a bill for £200B for new nuclear-which was also pointed out as being required by the same Prof. Sir David MacKay! Shame UK is 20 years behind the curve on that. Perhaps some expert should have noted an insurance policy is needed BEFORE you can drive the car/turbine/solar panel? Why was that done in reverse order? Simple. The cost of the insurance policy would have scared the buyer off! Every second hand car salesman is aware of that. Cynical, devious, but the reality, and the “experts” were complicit in their silence. The other costs are being managed in the same way-cynically and deviously.

    Here’s an idea, based upon arithmetic and physics, why not get oil out of Lincolnshire and use for transport and agriculture rather than use imported oil to allow cereals to be grown in Lincolnshire to then be processed and plonked into E10 petrol, that adds up to dearer motoring to the Supermarket and much dearer food within the Supermarket!? There were “experts” who advocated using cereals for addition into petrol. Where are they now? Probably able to afford the groceries many no longer can. Goodness, even my local Green denies any support for that shocker. The writing was on the wall many years ago when US started using maize in the same way. Then, it displaced growing soya, world soya prices rose as a result and all animal protein that was produced in many countries using imported soya rose in price as a result.
    Remember there were “experts” who supported Cash for Ash and wood burners in city housing. Drax could roll out “experts”, whilst the public pay a fortune to subsidize the folly, and will then pay another fortune to achieve CCS to rectify the first folly.

    The appalling delusion is the new reality. Maybe the old reality, based upon common sense should be more common?

  7. Sorry KatT, I gave up when I arrived at “plastic supporters”, as I decided I should do my bit for climate change and not support a plastic supporter by reading the rest of their support for plastic!

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s