Oil Drilling Application Refused!
On 30th Sept 2021 the Planning Application to expand West Newton A wellsite was Refused.
This is one of the biggest UK onshore oil drilling Applications in decades, yet Planning Officers recommended Approval.
It was a close thing that went right to the wire, and there’s a write up here. In the end East Riding of Yorkshire Council Planning Committee voted to refuse the application 7 votes to 5. This is the first time this council has refused an application from Rathlin Energy.
Rathlin Energy have 6 months to appeal, so it will likely go to a Planning Enquiry. We’ll keep you posted.
A major oil and gas field is planned for East Yorkshire, with several wellsites and many wells in Holderness, not far from Hull, Beverley, and Hornsea.
A Planning Application was submitted in July 2021 for a major expansion of West Newton A wellsite to drill 6 more wells and start producing fossil fuels for decades to come.
Details & Guidance
- Oil & Gas Field Plans
- What is this Planning Application for?
- West Newton A Wellsite
- Previous Incidents
- What Happens Next?
- How to Object – online / in writing
- Grounds for Objection & “Material Considerations”
- Expert Reports – Comprehensive Objections
- What Else Can I Do / How Can I Help?
Oil & Gas Field Plans
Multiple wellsites and many more wells are planned.
A West Newton A Wellsite
Planning Application to expand and drill 6 more wells.
Pipers Lane / Fosham Road, Marton HU11 5DA
HGV route via Hull, New Ellerby & Marton.
B West Newton B Wellsite
Drilled in 2020, testing underway. Plans just discovered to drill 8 new wells.
Crook Lane, West Newton
HGV route via Hull, Bilton, & Sproatley.
C & D West Newton C & D wellsites
Planned, initial details uncovered 2020.
Land South East Of Smithy Briggs Farm, Crook Lane, Burton Constable HU11 4LW
Land West Of Low Fosham Farm, Low Fosham Road, Aldbrough HU11 4LP
Oil companies will drill as many wells as they can get away with, if there’s a chance to get rich. They want to turn rural East Yorkshire in to an oil & gas field, and already have plans for multiple well sites and many more wells”
What is this Planning Application for?
- to expand West Newton A wellsite from 0.9ha to 3.46ha (8.55 acres), nearly four times the current size
- 30 HGVs would visit the site each day during 12 weeks of site construction – equivalent to 1 journey leg every 12 minutes for 12 hours
- A drilling rig up to 55m (180 feet) tall would be used to drill 6 new wells
- Additional sidetracks could be drilled for all six wells
- Drilling for a total of 90 weeks, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Wells would be treated with acid before production
- If wells did not flow, they will be treated with nitrogen gas for 1-5 days
- Up to 330,000,000 cubic feet of “waste” gas could be burned during well testing
- Well testing to take 1-2 years
- to start producing oil
- to store up to 490 tonnes of crude oil
- up to 25 oil tankers every day for 20 years of production – equivalent to 1 journey every 14 minutes for 12 hours, including Sundays and bank holidays
West Newton A Wellsite
West Newton A Wellsite was constructed in 2013. Two deep (below 2,000m) oil & gas wells have been drilled to explore for gas and oil. Operator Rathlin Energy now wants to drill 6 more wells, and start producing oil.
Oil would be transported to North Lincolnshire by road tanker, via Hull or Beverley.
West Newton A Wellsite is located between Hull, Beverley and Hornsea, near Burton Constable Hall, to the north of Sproatley.
Pipers Lane / Fosham Road, Marton HU11 5DA
During testing in 2014 when the site was last active incidents included:
- an emergency well shutdown, apparently when the planned mini-frac test went wrong. Tests and the lower section of well were abandoned. See here.
- 19 breaches of Environment Agency Permit; enforcement action taken. See here.
- ongoing gas leaks and noxious smells
- overflowing drainage ditches and leaky tanks
- incidents have been catalogued on this Incidents page here
What Happens Next?
On 27th September there was a Pre-Committee Presentation at which each side (Rathlin Energy and the objectors) presented their case for a total of 30 mins each to councillors. It’s on YouTube here.
They voted to refuse the application 7 votes to 5 on grounds of traffic and cumulative visual impact. The minutes should be published in a couple of weeks.
Rathlin Energy have 6 months to Appeal the decision, and they are likely to do so. There will then be a Planning Enquiry, and the arguments will be heard in detail.
How to Object
The Public Consultation has now closed.
Grounds for Objection & ‘Material Considerations’
Councils can only take in to account matters relevant to the application, know as ‘Material Considerations’. What count as Material Considerations is ultimately decided by the courts.
See ERYC guidance > Types of comments which are considered.
- Noise and light pollution from the site
- Vibrations during nearly two years of drilling
- Traffic: could be 200,000 HGV trips
- Harmful diesel pollution along the whole route, including through Hull or Beverley
- Road Safety along the route
- Gas venting & flaring: all gas found will be treated as waste and flared off
- Noxious gases & smells (as in 2014, for months – see here)
- Climate change: the release of methane (an extremely potent greenhouse gas), and carbon dioxide (CO2)
- The development alone would result in 200,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas pollution
Expert Reports – Comprehensive Objections
Independent planning experts were commissioned to study the Planning Application for the West Newton A Expansion. These expert reports, including a traffic report and a hydrogeological review, have been submitted in Objection to the Planning Application.
The Main Report & Traffic Report
Grounds for Objection
Having taken the opportunity to consider the documents submitted on behalf of the applicant in support of the planning application, FFEY strongly objects to the proposals for the following predominant reasons:
- The proposed routes (blue and orange) are neither safe nor suitable for the significant levels of large vehicular movements over the lifetime of the operation.
- There is a significant lack of information and investigation presented via the applicant’s transport assessment to meet the requirements of the NPPF (e.g., a lack of consideration of: vulnerable road users, public rights of way, inadequate swept path analysis, insufficient road widths, convoying or road closures, lack of holding areas for large vehicles, and lack of consideration of various settlements and attractions on routes).
- The detrimental impact on the landscape including from cumulative major developments (including inadequacies with the information presented).
- The detrimental impact from noise associated with the proposal; and
- The proposed extraction of a fossil fuel is wholly inappropriate and contrary to the Government’s aim of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Thus, it is considered that the proposals are not in conformity with relevant planning policies at both the national and local level.
For the reasons set out in this representation, FFEY respectfully ask that the application be refused.
The reasons for objection are discussed in further detail within section 4 of this report alongside setting out other matters of concern and the general lack of information as submitted on behalf of the applicant.
The hydrogeological review “identified a number of significant issues”, and more missing information, so “pollution risks to the water environment have not been adequately assessed”.
In a similar situation in Wressle (N. Lincs.) the developers had to rip up the wellsite and install a new liner that was fit for purpose, at significant cost.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the cost of these reports.
What Else Can I Do?
How Can I Help?
- First, submit your Objection!
- If you are able, you could donate to help fund Expert Reports
- If you live in the East Riding of Yorkshire:
- If you live on the traffic route (Hull, Beverley, Hessle & North Lincolnshire):
- Write to your local newspaper and/or…
- Spread the word on social media (links at the foot of the page), encouraging others to Submit Objections
- Help us deliver leaflets
- Join us at an Information Stall – see Events
- Offer to help in other ways – you can get in touch here.
Many residents around West Newton and on the traffic route have no idea of the oil & gas field plans. If they don’t submit objections it might be assumed they are ok with it, and the drilling company claims to have ‘social licence’. But the more people submit objections, the more chance it will be stopped.
So we are distributing many thousands of leaflets, to inform them, and encourage them to object.
But it’s a huge task, so we need all the help we can get. If you’re up for helping, please contact us.