"Very disappointed" - Biscathorpe oil drilling decision overturned
Egdon Resources’ application for an oil well in Biscathorpe was refused in 2021, with Lincolnshire County Council and members of the public expressing concerns over the impact on the site, which falls within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
But developers Egdon Resources appealed the decision and an inquiry, presided over by Planning Inspector Paul Thompson, took place at Kenwick Park Hotel in Louth on October 11, 2022.
It has now been announced on Friday (November 3) that the appeal against the decision has been upheld by the Planning Inspectorate.
Mr Thompson said in his report that although “there would be an adverse impact on the landscape and scenic beauty of the AONB”, that there was a “national need identified for oil production”:
"This would meet the test of providing exceptional circumstances to justify the proposed major development in the AONB,” he said, “Accordingly, despite giving great weight to conserving the landscape and scenic beauty of the AONB, the proposed development would be in the public interest.”
A spokesman for Egdon Resources Limited said the company is “pleased that the Planning Inspectorate has upheld the appeal against the refusal of planning permission by Lincolnshire County Council for a side-track drilling operation, associated testing and long-term oil production at the Biscathorpe-2 well site”:
"The PEDL253 joint venture partnership will review the decision notice and associated planning conditions in detail before providing an update on our plans for progressing operations.
"As part of this Egdon will look to engage with the local community to ensure our activities have minimal impact on local amenity.”
But the decision has caused upset and disappointment within the community and beyond.
SOS Biscathorpe member Amanda Suddaby said that the campaign group’s members were “very shocked and absolutely horrified, but not overall surprised” at the decision, and that the campaign group were now going to regroup and explore their options in terms of appealing against the decision:
"I just don’t understand why the inspector’s report acknowledged that there would be an adverse impact on the AONB, yet he’s allowed it to go ahead anyway.
"We’re reeling from the shock at the moment but we will be looking at all the avenues we can pursue to get this stopped, but it will be an expensive process and there aren’t that many more steps to go until they can start drilling.”
Coun Ian Fleetwood, chairman of the Planning Committee at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “When we considered this application two years ago, we felt that further development of the Biscathorpe site would be detrimental to the Wolds AONB.
"We also took into account the strength of public feeling against the plans. Those residents will be bitterly disappointed that the planning inspectorate has seen fit to overturn that decision.”
Coun Colin Davie, the council’s executive member for environment, added: “Egdon’s application claims that the development is necessary to support the UK’s energy security.
"In reality, any oil extracted at Biscathorpe over the entire 15 lifespan will represent just a few days’ worth of the country’s need.
"And there’s no guarantee that the oil taken from the ground at Biscathorpe will even remain in the UK; it could simply be sold abroad, negating any reduction in carbon emissions from using locally sourced oil.
“Despite acknowledging this, the Government’s Planning Inspectorate has seen fit to accept Egdon’s appeal.
"The development can now go ahead, against the wishes of the local community and the committee, and it’s the residents of Biscathorpe and beyond who will have to deal with the consequences, not an Inspector down in Whitehall.
“The county council will now ensure that the development at Biscathorpe will go ahead as per the conditions, and that the local community and area do not see further detrimental impacts.”