Why I Object to Drilling for Oil on the Isle of Wight

Today is the final day for people to object to an application by UK Oil and Gas Investments (UKOG) to drill an exploration borehole at Arreton, on the Isle of Wight. Local Green Party campaigner Tracey McCulloch shares her written objection to the drilling – one of over 1400 objections submitted so far, as reported by local campaign Don’t Drill the Wight.

Dear Madam or Sir,

I wish to strongly object to the proposal from UKOG to drill anywhere on the Island.

As is common knowledge the Island has been recognised with national park status as it is beautiful and rich in ecological significance. Obviously, the proposal is for very close to those areas, but as we know this impending work would unavoidably drastically affect the whole biosphere. It is as good as inevitable that beyond the site boundary the air soil and ground will be polluted from overflow of chemicals, oil waste and other strata pollutants from the site.

In the event of road access there is massive potential for accidents, spillage or flooding and damage, in particular given the levels of rain flooding experienced this year. There is well documented problems of this kind from the bank below the St George’s site right down to the main road. The substantial damage to scenery and wildlife and rich views across the area will be completely annihilated by this development.

It is unthinkable that we should sit quietly and allow this to happen without any consideration to the residents of Arreton and Merstone. It is also something I am seriously worried about in terms of the damage potential for areas nearby and impact beyond the island.

This drilling application impact potentially creates a serious amount of great concerns. In regard to ecological [damage] – Hydrogen Sulphide release, waste and traffic implications, [and] air pollution. In regard to democracy – the regulation has not been suitably or vigorously analysed in order to allow any regard to safe practices, [the] minimum of consultation that has taken place during COVID and severely restricted the feedback and fair process, and sustainability issues that have not had a fair impact assessment. (All these lead me to believe that this has been undertaken in a very underhand way and certainly not in any kind of transparent manner).

There are very serious questions that need an answer.

How can this application satisfy the Government strategy and NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] statements to retain UK oil for UK oil security, when the UK is still exporting millions of tonnes of UK oil to East Asia and Europe and then are having to import oil? Only 1 year ago the Isle of Wight council declared a climate emergency. The MPA [Mineral Planning Authority] should reject this industrial application on the basis of prospective cumulative increased emissions and the need to phase out fossil fuels as agreed by the majority of countries across the globe due to the climate emergency that this Council acknowledges.

Worldwide and nationally, the declaration from government and [general consensus] is very similar in regard to reducing fossil fuels. [For example,] it has been agreed by the UK and majority of informed nations that we have enough fossil fuels to transition to renewable [energy] if we act now. We also know we cannot meet our decarbonisation targets by 2030 if we burn more than 30% of fossil fuels that already [exist]. We do not need this well or the oil in it!

Very sadly the above list is certainly not exhaustive, and the reality is that there are massive negative implications here for the health, well-being, the local economy and industries and tourist facilities of the island and beyond. I feel that the only sane decision by the council is to strongly reject this proposal.

Find out more

BBC News, 15th May 2020, ‘Oil exploration drilling bid for Isle of Wight‘.

On the Wight, 24th July 2020, ‘Letter: Defer UKOG oil exploration planning application. Alison Goodchild believes the UKOG planning application for oil exploration has been submitted under cover of a global pandemic and calls for it to be deferred.’

Isle of Wight Council, ‘Planning application for ‘20/00513/FUL | The construction, operation and decommissioning of a well site for the exploration and appraisal of hydrocarbon minerals from one exploratory borehole (Arreton-3) and one side-track borehole (Arreton-3z)…’


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