Plans have been proposed for expanding oil and gas drilling in Yorkshire. Photograph: Dan Bannister/Getty Images Plans have been proposed for expanding oil and gas drilling in Yorkshire. Photograph: Dan Bannister/Getty Images

‘Insane’: Plans proposed for expanding oil and gas drilling in Yorkshire

A councillor has branded plans to expand oil and gas drilling in East Riding, Yorkshire, months after the council declared a climate emergency, as “just insane”.

Plans have been submitted by Rathlin Energy to drill up to six new wells for petroleum and start production from two already drilled boreholes on farmland in East Yorkshire, saying that locally sourced fossil fuels are needed to guarantee "secure, diverse and sustainable" supplies.

An environmental impact assessment (EIA) was ruled unnecessary by environment secretary George Eustice after Mid Holderness ward councillor Jacob Birch wrote to request one. 

Whilst no EIA was carried out, an ecological impact assessment for the wellsite identified some “potential effects” to a nearby Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) arising from changes in hydrology, water quality, and air quality caused by the site. 

The wellsite is within the impact risk zone of Lambworth Meadows  SSSI, which is designated for its species-rich floodplain meadows.

The assessment also identified “potential effects” on foraging bats arising from lighting impacts from the wellsite.

Rathlin Energy’s plans come just months after East Riding council members declared a climate emergency.

Commenting on the plans to Hull Live, councillor Walker said: "We have just declared a climate emergency, and we’re asked to consider the extraction over decades to come and the transport by road of highly flammable crude oil and the combustion of fresh supplies of fossil fuels, this is just insane.” 

He continued: "I do not blame Rathlin Energy, companies do what companies do which is focus on their share price. But I expect our elected council to have our backs, this needs to be rejected once and for all."

Arguing its case, Rathlin Energy says in its planning proposal that the development of indigenous hydrocarbon resources not only “increases security of supply” but also ensures that the UK is not “overly dependent on the import of oil and gas from countries with less stringent regulatory regimes, including those associated with emission releases”.

The company also references a letter sent from the Climate Change Committee to the department for business, energy, and industry strategy which said there is an “ongoing demand” for natural gas in the UK to 2050 “and beyond”. 

Rathlin writes in its proposal that “in the absence of increases in UK production, significant volumes of natural gas will have to be imported from foreign sources further afield”. 

According to reports local campaigners Fossil Free Yorkshire are distributing thousands of leaflets urging residents to submit objections to the planning proposal.

The full planning statement can be found here.

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