Planning Inspector’s decision to allow oil production in Biscathorpe quashed

SOS Biscathorpe campaigners celebrate the ruling.SOS Biscathorpe campaigners celebrate the ruling.
SOS Biscathorpe campaigners celebrate the ruling.
​The Planning Inspector’s decision to allow oil production in Biscathorpe in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been quashed after concession from the Secretary of State.

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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Mathilda Dennis was then granted permission for a statutory review hearing before a judge at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, represented by Leigh Day, Estelle Dehon KC and Dr Lois Lane of Cornerstone Barristers.

And following a landmark Supreme Court ruling, which halted a similar plan for oil production in Surrey, defendants the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Egdon Resources accepted an invitation from solicitors on Leigh Day’s environment team to concede the case.

Mathilda Dennis said: “We’re delighted that all the hard-work and campaigning over the last 10 years has finally paid off, not just for the beautiful area of Biscathorpe, but we hope that it will also help and encourage other groups fighting similar battles; on the back of the Finch ruling and now also SOS Biscathorpe, it is clear that the unequivocal link between fossil fuel extraction and climate crisis can no longer be ignored.”

Amanda Suddaby from SOS Biscathorpe added: "It was also encouraging to see that these very senior judges seemed to recognise and value the importance of public participation in addressing the enormous issue of climate crisis.

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"Our hope now is that this paves the way to a full and proper understanding of the great harm that each and every new fossil fuel development represents.”

Leigh Day solicitor Julia Eriksen, who represents the campaigners, said: “We are hugely pleased that this case has resulted in a positive outcome and are proud to represent a local community group in their continuing fight against fossil fuel development.

"Our clients put forward strong arguments that the Secretary of State acted unlawfully and irrationally in overturning Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to refuse planning permission.

"This case illustrates the significant implications of the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment on fossil fuel production in June, which ruled that planning inspectors must take into account the downstream emissions from burning fuel when considering fossil fuel applications.

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"We hope this success in Lincolnshire is a positive sign for similar cases still before the courts.”

Mark Abbott, Chief Executive Officer of Egdon Resources Ltd, said: “The result of the Biscathorpe judicial review was inevitable and a direct consequence of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in the case of Finch vs Surrey CC.

"We will take some time to carefully consider the options with our advisors and joint venture partners before deciding the next steps with the Biscathorpe project.”

The Planning Inspectorate declined to comment on the ruling.

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