A major oil and gas field has been approved for East Yorkshire, with several wellsites and many wells in Holderness, between Hull, Beverley, and Hornsea, drilling underneath villages and Burton Constable Hall.
Planning Permission Granted 17th March 2022
West Newton A Oil & Gas Wellsite
The largest application for UK onshore oil drilling for many years allows:
- years of construction and testing
- the wellsite to treble in size
- the drilling of 4 new wells + many horizontal wells
- years of construction, 24/7 drilling & testing
- production of oil for decades to come, resulting in
- up to 10 to 25 oil tankers a day on rural roads, then via Hull/Beverley & N. Lincs.
- the site will supply NO gas – any gas would be burnt on site
Planning Permission Granted 17th March 2022
West Newton B
Planning Permission Extension
3 Year Time Extension
The fight against fossil fuels doesn’t end here!
- Oil & Gas Field Plans
- What is this Planning Application for?
- What Differs Between the 2021 and 2022 Applications?
- West Newton A Wellsite
- Previous Incidents
- What Happens Next?
- How to Object – online / in writing CONSULTATION NOW CLOSED
- Grounds for Objection & “Material Considerations”
- Expert Reports – Comprehensive Objections
- What Else Can I Do / How Can I Help?
West Newton A Expansion
A 2021 Planning Application (Reference 21/02464/STFUL) was made by Rathlin Energy for a major expansion of their West Newton A wellsite, to nearly quadruple the size, drill 6 new wells, and start producing oil for decades to come.
In September that application was refused by East Riding of Yorkshire Council by 7 votes to 5. It was really close. There’s a write up here. Rathlin Energy have 6 months to appeal, from 8th Oct. The reasons given for refusal were unacceptable industrialisation of a rural area, visual impact, traffic on narrow country roads, and inappropriate scale. (To download the Notice of Decision, first click Planning Documents then eDecision.)
Rathlin Energy are now trying again.
A 2022 Revised Application has been submitted to nearly triple the size, drill 4 new wells, and start producing oil for decades to come. It’s pretty similar. It would still mean years of construction, 24/7 drilling, and testing. It would produce just as much dangerously polluting, dirty, and outdated fossil fuels, just as we need to phase them out. It would result in just as many oil tankers thundering through East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, continuously, for decades to come.
Rathlin Energy are hoping that the slightly reduced scale and visual impact will address the councillors concerns.
In 2021 East Riding Council finally declared a Climate Emergency. But greenhouse gas emissions are rising again (after the pandemic), dangerously high carbon dioxide levels are still increasing, higher than ever before, and extreme weather events worsen as the climate breaks down around us. The last thing we should be doing is starting to drill for more fossil fuels. We must Keep It In The Ground.
We must now convince the councillors to have the courage to stand up against the oil industry and for the sake of all our futures, refuse this application.
Read on for how to object, convince the councillors, and help stop the madness of this application.
West Newton B Time Extension
West Newton B is another exploratory wellsite a couple of fields south of West Newton A. It was granted Planning Permission in 2015. After years of delays and changing plans construction finally got underway in Spring 2020 (during the most serious part of the pandemic). A well was drilled but missed it’s target, so they drilled a sidetrack, but that didn’t flow oil or gas either, and then suffered “formation damage“, so they’ve abandoned it.
Oil & Gas Field Plans
Multiple wellsites and many more wells are planned.
A West Newton A Wellsite
Planning Application to expand and drill 4 more wells.
Drilling under Withernwick, Marton, West Newton, and Burton Constable Hall.6
Full details including site history, previous planning docs, permits etc. here.
Pipers Lane / Fosham Road, Marton HU11 5DA
HGV route via Hull, New Ellerby & Marton.
B West Newton B Wellsite
Drilled in 2020. Well abandoned due to “formation damage“. Plans uncovered to drill 8 new wells. Planning Permission about to expire – live application for a 3 year time extension. OBJECT to this as well! Read more here.
Drilling under West Newton, Flinton, and Tansterne.6
Crook Lane, West Newton
HGV route via Hull, Bilton, & Sproatley.
C & D West Newton C & D wellsites
Planned, initial details uncovered 2020. Read more here.
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 into 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 2.5ha (6.2 acres), nearly 3 times the current size
- 50-60 HGV journeys a day for 4 years of development – equivalent to 1 every 12 minutes, for 12 hours
- A drilling rig up to 55m (180 feet) tall would be used to drill 4 new wells
- Additional sidetracks or horizontal wells could be drilled off the main wells (including off the 2 existing wells)
- drilling underneath Burton Constable Hall and the villages of Withernwick, Marton, and West Newton 6
- Drilling for a total of 76 weeks, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Wells would be treated with acid before production. An acid fracture stimulation is no longer ruled out (this follows ongoing difficulties in testing).
- If wells did not flow, they would 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
- up to 132 vehicle trips a day (== every 5 mins)
- Well testing to take 1-2 years
- to start producing oil
- to store up to 490 tonnes of crude oil
- all gas extracted would be burnt on site (the site does not have a gas nor electricity connection)
- all oil would be tankered out by road (there is no pipeline, and one is extremely unlikely)
- up to 10 oil tankers every day, for 20 years of production
- traffic assessments based on 25 oil tankers a day (typical for such a site) – equivalent to one passing every 14 minutes for 12 hours, including Sundays and bank holidays, for 20 years
What Differs Between the 2021 and 2022 Applications?
The applications are very similar indeed, and the most severe impacts, notably on climate change and the number of oil tankers, are just as bad. The intensity of development traffic could be even higher, but for a slightly reduced duration.
The main differences are a slight reduction in scale, and to reduce visual impact. There would be lower storage tanks and more bushes and trees. This is an attempt to address the specific reasons given for refusal by ERYC Councillors.
We must convince councillors that opposition is as strong as ever. Climate change has not gone away.
Now the existing wellsite is 0.9 hectares (ha).
The 2021 Application was to nearly quadruple the size to 3.5 ha.
The 2022 Revised Application is to nearly triple the size to 2.5 ha.
Number of Wells
Now there are 2 wells on the existing wellsite.
The 2021 Application was to drill 6 new wells, plus sidetracks and/or horizontal wells.
The 2022 Revised Application is to drill 4 new wells, plus sidetracks and/or horizontal wells.
They would still be able to drill as many sidetracks and horizontal wells as they liked off the main vertical wells, up to a horizontal distance of 2km from the wellsite.
Quantity of Oil Produced
They are expecting to produce the same amount of oil as before.1
Significant Increase in Daily Traffic
2021 App “The Development is expected to generate a maximum of 122 daily vehicle trips … occurring across 1 week”
2022 App “The wellsite is expected to generate a maximum of 132 daily vehicle trips … occurring across four years” 2
2021 App Site construction 12 weeks, conductor drilling 28 days per well, drill rig on site 24 months, well treatment 90 days.
2022 App Site construction 10 weeks, conductor drilling 14-28 days per well, drill rig on site 17.5 months, well treatment 2 weeks per well [=56 days].
The production phase remains up to 20 years. The land lease was agreed for 50 years.
2021 App “For all wells at the WNA wellsite the Applicant recognises two (2) conventional reservoir target formations …”
2022 App “At the WNA wellsite the Applicant recognises two (2) reservoir target formations …” 3
Acid Fracture Stimulation No Longer Ruled Out
2021 App “The primary approach is to utilise acid to treat the wells below the formation fracturing pressure. For the avoidance of misinterpretation, this is not an acid fracture stimulation.”
2022 App “The primary approach is to utilise acid to treat the wells.” 4
2022 App The Development “is of a scale and form that respects the intrinsic character of its surroundings and a reduced scale of development when compared to the previously refused application;” 5
This news report analyses the differences in detail:
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 4 more wells, and start producing oil.
Oil would be transported to North Lincolnshire by road tanker, via Hull or Beverley, then over the bridge to North Lincolnshire.
West Newton A Wellsite is located between Hull, Beverley and Hornsea, near Burton Constable Hall, to the north of Sproatley. There are directions here.
Pipers Lane / Fosham Road, Marton HU11 5DA
During previous testing in 2014 incidents included:
- an emergency well shutdown, apparently when the planned mini-frac test went wrong. The tests were abandoned, and the well mothballed. 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?
This 2022 Revised Planning Application went live at the start of this year, and the Public Consultation is now open – the most important and final opportunity for you to have your say.
Comments are accepted until the Planning Meeting, but submit your objection as soon as you can to be counted in the Planning Officer’s Report.
The date of the Planning Meeting has not yet been set. The meeting dates are here. It could possibly be 17th March. We’ll update this page when we know.
Planning Meetings are held at County Hall, Cross St, Beverley HU17 9BA and on YouTube here.
How to Object
There is general guidance here:
View and comment on planning applications – ERYC website
You can submit an objection online here:
Note there is a 30 minute timeout on the website, so if composing your comment will take time, type it in a text editor, and then copy & paste it in to the website.
Super Quick Objection (5 mins)
Submit a one word comment “Object”
The total number of objections matters as it is reported to the Planning Committee. Beginning with the word Object makes it clear whether the comment is for, or against, or neutral.
- Encourage others to object too
Resubmit Your Original Objection
This 2022 Planning Application is a re-submission, so if you submitted an objection to the original application last year, you can just resubmit it now.
Object With Comments
Submit an objection and say why
- Be factual.
- Comments submitted anonymously or considered to contain libellous, discriminatory, defamatory or offensive remarks will not be counted.
- Stick to matters relevant to the application, known as Material Considerations.
- Keep scrolling for more guidance.
If you are able to submit your comment online, please do so – it makes it easier to process and count your comment.
However, if you find it easier, you can use this easy Written Objection Form:
A letter in your own words may carry more weight, but the most important thing is that you do object – even just a single word: “Object”.
You must include your details, and the application references: 21/04625/CM and 21/04629/CM
Address your letter to:
East Riding of Yorkshire Council
Planning and Development Management
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 a year and a half 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 will be burnt on site
- Noxious gases & smells (as in 2014, for months – see here)
- Industrialisation of a rural area
- Cumulative impact of multiple developments in the area, including Tansterne biomass plant; Withernwick wind farm; West Newton B wellsite, with plans for a major expansion (pre-application enquiry in 2020); and at least 2 more wellsites planned (screening requests in 2020)
- 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, specialists in their fields, have once again been commissioned to study the revised application in detail. They produced Expert Reports submitted as comprehensive objections to the applications. They give specific grounds for objection, with reference to points of policy, planning law, and precedence, making powerful arguments to reject the application.
The Expert Reports produced for the 2021 application proved absolutely invaluable in convincing the Councillors to reject it, and providing grounds for them to do so. If you are able to Donate to the cost of these, please consider doing so.
The Main Report – WNA Expansion 2022 App
- Highway Matters Report
- Hydrogeological Review
The report highlights 11 specific grounds for refusal (section 2.1) including:
- The proposed routes are neither safe nor suitable for the significant levels of HGVs
- No mention of the intention to ‘Sidetrack’ drill and the associated HGVs
- Significant lack of information, including in the applicant’s transport assessment
- Detrimental impact on the landscape from cumulative major developments
- Detrimental impact from noise, and the visual impact of Noise Mitigation Measures
- No clear provision of Biodiversity Net Gain
- Extraction of new fossil fuels is contrary to the Government’s 2050 Net Zero commitment
The Hydrogeology Review reveals:
- A lack of information about the existing well pad liner and its condition, and whether it is fit to be extended in area and time beyond the exploratory stages
- Insufficient information in the Hydrogeological and Flood Risk Assessment to support the conclusions relating to the site, groundwater, and flooding
Traffic Briefing Note
A short briefing note regarding highway matters, highlighting what has changed with the revised application (very little) and that the roads remain unsafe and unsuitable.
West Newton B Wellsite Time Extension
This report concludes that permission should be refused on various grounds including:
- a significant change in relevant planning policies both locally and nationally since 2015
- the cumulative visual impact on the rural landscape; a full and updated LVIA should be required – but this has not been submitted (see 2.24)
- ERYC’s pre-application advice indicates hydraulic fracturing will be used (see 2.25)
This is prohibited under Condition 12 of the original application.
The Main Report & Traffic Report 2021 App
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.
Hydrogeology Review 2021 App
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!
- Also object to the West Newton B Application for more time
- If you are able, please donate to help fund the vitally important 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
- Get Active: 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.
1. [Back ^ to text]
“The reduction in wells, from six (6) to four (4) … will, however, not have any bearing on the production phase of the Development, as the previous application did not attribute any production from the Cadeby Formation due to the exploratory status.”
– PLANNING STATEMENT, p12
2. [Back ^ to text]
Original Planning Statement (left) and revised Planning Statement (right).
3. [Back ^ to text]
Original Planning Statement, p17 (left) and revised Planning Statement, p19 (right)
4. [Back ^ to text]
Original Planning Statement, p30 (left) and revised Planning Statement, p34 (right).
5. [Back ^ to text]
6. [Back ^ to text]
On 25 Jan 2022, the final day of the Statutory Consultations, new Location Plans were published in the Planning Documents, for both West Newton A and West Newton B. These added a “MAXIMUM EXTENT OF SUBSURFACE WORKS” extending from the wellsites for 2km in all directions. For West Newton A it also labels it an “AREA OF LIKELY EXTRACTION” (red hatched area).