Strong opposition to latest oil drilling plans in Biscathorpe

Residents across Lincolnshire have reacted with horror to proposals for further drilling and oil production in Biscathorpe – with more than 100 letters of opposition submitted within a few weeks of the planning application.

A view of the countryside from Biscathorpe.

Egdon Resources UK Limited, which was previously granted temporary planning permission for a single exploratory well in the picturesque village in 2015, is now hoping to obtain permission to conduct a side-track drilling operation, associated testing, and long-term oil production which could last up to 15 years.

This time frame could be reduced if oil volumes are not deemed to be “commercially viable” following further drilling and testing at the site.

The submitted planning documents claim that the operation will make a “small but vital contribution” towards the UK’s supply and would reduce the need for imports.

Campaigners have been protesting against the oil drilling operations in the Wolds village over recent years.

The statement adds that the proposals would “support the local economy” and suggests that the benefits arising from the development: “would outweigh any minor residual potential adverse impacts”.

Residents living in the surrounding area, however, are far from convinced.

The same can be said for two local parish councils, the Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service, Historic England, and campaigners from the SOS Biscathorpe group.

Dozens of letters of objection against the plans have already been submitted from across Lincolnshire and beyond, insisting that the application should be rejected.

A resident living in the neighbouring village of Donington on Bain wrote: “I strongly object to this latest application by Egdon Resources.

“It is not necessary, as the contribution to the UK oil reserves will be miniscule and would profit just a small number of people monetarily.

“This is not what we as a nation should be aspiring to with the current climate crisis; fossil fuels should be kept underground.”

Another resident, from Nettleton, added: “I am very concerned about the long term impact of drilling in this area. It is a popular walking area for many local families, especially as children can play in the lovely clear streams.

“Drilling would put these streams at risk of contamination as well as destroy local wildlife.

“Tourists, who bring money into the local economy, would be put off from coming to the area. The extra traffic generated by the drilling site would also disturb the wildlife and local community as well as overload the rural road network.

“Biscathorpe is a beautiful rural gem which should be safeguarded for future generations.”

A resident from the nearby village of Burgh on Bain added: “This is AONB [Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty]. Does this mean nothing? We are supposed to protect the few precious areas of natural beauty in England and our rare chalk streams and yet this development puts everything at risk. A risk that cannot be mitigated. Irreversible damage. This type of industry is not the way forward for any country.”

Meanwhile, a consultee comment from Donington on Bain Parish Council said: “We are perplexed by the unsustainable nature of this development in light of current national policies which are heavily tilted towards developing renewables and to a zero-carbon target by 2050.

“We do not see any benefits to our local economy or community from this operation; rather we fear considerable potential risks from oil and contaminated run off water to the River Bain, one of the world’s rare chalk streams which runs through the centre of our community. This further poses a threat to our communities’ health and prosperity from local tourism.

“We strongly urge Lincolnshire County Council to reflect our real concerns and reject this damaging project.”

South Willingham Parish Council echoed these sentiments, saying: “The parish council, and the majority of residents in this parish, vehemently oppose this development.

“There is no benefit to the local economy, and the potential damage to the environment has been underestimated.”

The Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service offered its opposition too, stating: “On balance, we believe that the development proposal will cause significant local and long-term harm to the special qualities and underlying rural character that contribute to the Lincolnshire Wolds’ natural beauty.”

“This development proposal is fundamentally at odds with the bucolic spirit and character of the Lincolnshire Wolds.

“The application has failed to fully demonstrate that there is a sufficient overriding national interest, by virtue of the weight of exceptional circumstances, to warrant a long-term industrial drilling and oil extraction facility within the AONB.”

Mark Abbott, the managing director of Egdon Resources, responded to our request for comment this week by insisting that oil remains ‘critical’ to our daily lives – adding that measures will be taken to minimise the effects of their operation.

Mr Abbott said: “Despite the progressive move to renewable energy, oil remains critical to heat our homes and businesses, to fuel our vehicles and to act as important feedstock for the manufacture of numerous everyday goods including items as diverse as medicines and the blades for wind turbines.

“Government policy makes it clear that oil and gas remains an important part of the UK’s energy mix and the Energy White Paper (2020) confirms that the need for oil and gas will continue for decades to come and indeed even beyond 2050.

“Our job therefore is help meet that need while minimising effects on people, communities and the local environment.

“The site is already in existence so minimises any construction impacts and was drilled initially without impact on the environment or local people.

“We recognise this is a sensitive area and we will manage our operations to protect it.

“A thorough environmental impact assessment has been undertaken which concluded very limited impact on the local area from our works.

“Locally-produced oil has a much lower carbon footprint than the oil which the UK imports from around the world and this site could deliver real value to the local economy.

“We have set up a local community liaison group who we are working closely with to address community concerns and questions.”

• If you wish to submit a comment regarding the proposals, visit Lincolnshire County Council’s online planning portal and search for application PL/0037/21.