Islanders chance to comment on oil application

ISLANDERS will now have the chance to comment on a much-criticised plan to see if there is viable oil to drill for at Arreton.

UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) has submitted a planning application to see whether it would be viable to drill for oil in the future.

The trial would last three years.

Due to Covid-19, the Isle of Wight Council’s planning department were unable to erect site notices and could not make a lawful decision on the application because not all statutory requirements were met.

Now, however, with lockdown restrictions easing, notices will start to be put up again for major applications.

Being included in this week’s planning list (June 12), an application (20/00513/FUL) for the construction, operation and decommissioning of exploratory oil drilling boreholes in Arreton will start its three-week consultation period, accepting comments from the public.

However, the controversial decision to drill for oil on the Island has been met with mixed reactions — but mainly backlash from Islanders who want to keep the Island safe from the production of oil and gas, especially as the Isle of Wight Council declared a climate emergency.

The pressure group Frack-Free Isle of Wight fears pollution of the Eastern Yar and other water sources if oil drilling was to go ahead.

In a meeting last December, hosted by the Green Party, spokesperson Vix Lowthion said the drilling would be catastrophic for the Island and encouraged people to find out what was going on.

UKOG has stressed it is not applying to “frack” on the Island and will leave no impact on the Island if the drill sites are not promising, or commercially viable.

Speaking at the community consultation event in December, chief executive of UKOG, Stephen Sanderson, said: “The whole reason we need to drill the well is to do a flow test.

“We can use it to determine how much oil comes out of the ground in a day, for example, and then we can decide whether to go ahead.

“Why would we put money into a hole in the ground when we do not know what we may get out?”

Island Roads, as a statutory consulting body, has already recommended the application for refusal on seven grounds — including points about insufficient information about drainage, HGV trailer and temporary site access, the fact that vehicles may be stopping on the busy Newport Road waiting to get into the site and an inadequate turning area for HGVs entering and leaving the site in a ‘safe and satisfactory manner’.

Comments on the application can be made via the council’s planning portal from Friday, June 12, for a period of three weeks until July 3.

Updated June 12: The IW Council have confirmed July 24th will be the closing date for comments on the application.