Campaigners were celebrating this week after the company, which hoped to drill for oil in Arreton, confirmed it would not appeal against last October’s decision, by the IW Council’s planning committee, to refuse permission for a three-year drilling licence.
UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) said that the £500,000 estimated cost of the appeal would now be spent on developing new oil, gas and geothermal/energy storage projects. They had asked for permission to drill vertical and sidetrack oil wells on farm land between Newport and Sandown for three years, and had until April to submit an appeal against the refusal.
UKOG had claimed that 227 million barrels of oil beneath site could produce 500 barrels a day from a 1,700 meter deep vertical well, generating £500 million. The company also argued that domestic oil production was less environmentally harmful than importing oil.
The company’s decision not to appeal is a victory for councillors, as well as campaign group Don’t Drill the Wight, as planning officers had recommended the scheme should be approved, concluding the economic benefits would outweigh environmental harm. However, councillors disagreed and said the proposals would damage the Island’s natural landscape, key to our tourist industry. Six parish councils also opposed the plans, raising concerns about the impact on the local road network and ferry ports, through which any oil produced would be exported.
A spokesman for Don’t Drill the Wight said: “We are delighted that UKOG has finally decided not to appeal the decision. It is a huge relief for us all on the Island.
“We hope this will give our council the confidence to include a specific statement within their upcoming review of the Island Minerals and Waste Plan, rejecting all plans for fossil fuel exploration and extraction. The Isle of Wight exploration licence is still active until July 2023, but it is doubtful that it will be sold on by UKOG to another operator.”
Local councillor, Suzie Ellis, said: “This is great news for local residents, campaigners, and the Island as a whole.
“Securing the refusal of this application was a team effort, led by Don’t Drill The Wight. I was pleased to play my part, as the ward councillor, in making the case for refusal in my representations to the planning committee.”
UKOG’s estimate of the value of the Arreton site, at almost £1 million, has been written off in the company’s annual accounts.