By Rebecca Hannant
The Environment Agency has issued a permit variation to Rathlin Energy to drill additional oil and gas wells and carry out commercial production at the West Newton A well site.
The latest consultation on the draft permit in June follows an initial consultation on the application in December 2021.
Kathryn Richardson, area environment manager at the Environment Agency, said it was “satisfied that the appropriate measures are in place for oil and gas extraction without causing harm to the environment or human health” and could not find a reason to refuse the application.
She added: “Before we finalised our decision, we reviewed and considered all comments received. The views of the local community on this site are hugely important, and we thank everyone for their contributions through the consultation.
“In assessing this permit variation, we have completed a detailed and rigorous assessment of Rathlin Energy’s application to ensure the operating techniques and control measures at the proposed facility comply with the legal requirements of the Environmental Permitting Regulations – which are in place to protect people and the environment.”
Rathlin Energy’s plans to add six more wells to its West Newton site were turned down in 2021, but a further application that scaled down the proposals to four additional wells was later accepted by East Riding Council. The planning permission also allows horizontal drilling underneath the villages of West Newton, Marton and Withernwick.
Opposition group West Newton Said No! argues that the site will have a detrimental impact on the environment and continues to oppose Rathlin Energy’s plans.
Sarah Jane Hockey of the group said: “We are not surprised the EA has given the permit.
“We believe that Rathlin does not have the funds in place to carry out its plans at West Newton. Union Jack Oil, who are major investors, are in trouble. Their shares have fallen through the floor and their investors are calling for the chairman David Bramhill to resign. Reabold, the other major investor, is busy with other projects and is hoping for investment.
“Rathlin has announced that its plans to continue work at West Newton B are now delayed until at least the first half of next year. We believe the bottom is falling out of the market for fossil fuels as investors turn towards renewables for reliable income sources.
“Rathlin has changed its tune continuously. First, it was saying there was a massive gas deposit at West Newton. Then it was the biggest oil find in the UK. And now it’s back to gas, which they said in their planning application was for domestic use, which would help bring prices down for the public. But in their statement today they talk about using gas found for hydrogen.”
According to Rathlin Energy, it is anticipated that the recoverable gas resource at West Newton will have the potential to meet the daily gas demands of more than 380,000 homes in the UK for many years to come.