Wrestling in Oil at North Lincolnshire

Public inquiry decisions go against oil company

Oil production, also involving mini fracking, at Wressle in North Lincolnshire has previously been refused. Egdon Resources Ltd therefore lodged planning appeals for oil production which have recently been lost. We were retained by the local Council throughout this process to support their case to refuse Egdons applications.

The Inquiry Inspector, Mr K L Williams, explains in his decision notice the ‘importance of ensuring that highly effective pollution prevention measures’ are in place and later concludes ‘it has not been shown that a material risk of harm to groundwater resources and to water quality in Ella Beck would not remain’. This was the evidence that our Environment Team had presented to the Inquiry on behalf of the Local Planning Authority.

The inquiry

Held in November 2017, the Inquiry involved two Appeals, A and B for the extraction of Hydrocarbons from an existing but temporary exploration site at Lodge Farm, Wressle near Scunthorpe. The production was for a period of 15 years. Our Hydrogeology team were brought in by the Local Planning Authority to support them in a likely Appeal after the Planning committee refused the Egdon first application, which was against officer’s recommendations. This was in January 2017. Subsequently Egdon submitted substantially the same application in April however this time, whilst the Planning Committee sat in deliberation, the Environment Agency had issued an Environmental Permit for the production facility. Again, the Planning Committee refused it against officer recommendation. JBA were retained for the conjoined appeals.

The appeals

The main issues arising from both Appeal A and Appeal B were:

  • The effect of the development on groundwater and on water courses
  • The effect of the development on local residents, the community and the local economy.

Our Hydrogeologists identified that the appellant in their submissions had not demonstrated that effective mitigation measures to protect groundwater and water courses would be provided by Egdon. As such a risk of hydrocarbon pollution and harm to local residents and the local economy would remain.

The Appeal examined the role of the Environment Agency and the Planning Authority in these types of application where there is the potential for overlapping responsibilities. The Inspectors decision points to at least three particular instances where the Environment Permit, which had been issued, could not be relied upon to manage the environmental risks.

Want to know more?

This case and the issues identified will be explored in further technical detail by our experts in blog posts over the next month.

For more information on our environmental expertise, or for more details on this Appeal and Decision, please contact Head of Environment Steve Maslen. You can also visit our environmental web pages for examples of other areas we work in and services we can provide.

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