Date for SOS Biscathorpe's Royal Courts of Justice hearing set

SOS Biscathorpe.SOS Biscathorpe.
SOS Biscathorpe.
​​A planning inspector’s decision to allow an oil drilling operation in the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) will be challenged next month.

Permission was first granted to drill for oil at Biscathorpe in 2014 and the current application for further exploratory drilling and 15 years of production should oil be found was refused by Lincolnshire County Council in 2021.

But this decision was overturned by the Planning Inspectorate in November 2023 after the applicant, Egdon Resources UK Ltd (now owned by US-based group Heyco Energy), appealed against the decision.

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And now Mathilda Dennis, who has been campaigning against oil exploration and its expansion with SOS Biscathorpe since 2014, has been granted permission for a statutory review hearing before a judge, and is now set be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on June 5 and 6.

SOS Biscathorpe, acting through Mathilda, are arguing that the impact on the landscape and the climate crisis outweigh any claims that the Biscathorpe site’s uncertain and negligible oil output would contribute to national energy security.

Mathilda and SOS Biscathorpe are represented by the environmental team at law firm Leigh Day.

Mathilda said: “As the UN Secretary General has said, ‘new oil development is moral and economic madness’. The climate and ecological crisis is irrefutable and becoming more urgent by the day – we hope that the High Court Judge will take this into consideration when reviewing the decision about Biscathorpe. New oil development is simply not compatible with NetZero targets.”

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Amanda Suddaby, spokesman for SOS Biscathorpe, said: “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty were recently re-branded ‘National Landscapes’ to reflect the important role they play in mitigating against climate change and ecological breakdown. It is therefore impossible to see how fossil fuel development in these precious areas can be justified. It defies all logic.

“We are pleased that a High Court Judge will now consider the balance between a small and uncertain

quantity of oil that will probably be exported against the requirement to protect and enhance a National

Landscape considered vital in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.”

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The Planning Inspectorate was approached for comment, but said the office is not in a position to comment on a decision which is being legally challenged.

Mark Abbott, Chief Executive Officer for Egdon Resources, said: “The arguments for and against the planned operations were aired in full at a hearing in October 2022 and considered in detail for more than a year by the Inspector before he reached his decision in favour of our proposals in December 2023. Little has changed since that decision.

“It remains that the government recognises the UK will continue to require oil and gas to operate our homes and businesses until at least 2050 and so anything that we can produce domestically will reduce both our carbon footprint and our reliance on imported oil.

Egdon will have legal representation at the High Court where the challenge to the Planning Inspector’s decision to allow oil drilling and production at Biscathorpe will be heard.

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"While we look forward to presenting a robust legal argument against the claims and clarifying the validity of the Inspector’s decision, we are also keen to work with the local community to ease concerns.”