Campaigners block entrance to oil and gas site in protest at expansion plans

  • Report by ITV Calendar reporter Emma Wilkinson

Campaigners in East Yorkshire briefly stood in the way of HGVs arriving and leaving an oil and gas drilling site today, in protest at plans to expand it.

Residents from the local area around Rathlin Energy's West Newton A site, said they wanted to take a stand against proposals which they say would increase HGV traffic in the countryside and completely undermine the council's declaration of a climate emergency.

Resident Marilyn Axon said: "We're not against the people who are driving, the workforce. It's the company and what they want to do here."

"They (Rathlin Energy) can try and baffle people with scientific words, they can say all the words they want to say, and people will go home and say 'what was all that about?'.

I just know when I walk outside I'm going to be met with a load of fumes. It's the next generation that we want to help and unless we make a stand and somebody listens to us, then we're not going to be able to do that."

Also at the site was Richard Howarth from the campaign group Fossil Free East Yorkshire.

He said: "Everyone from the head of the UN to the world's top scientists say oil must stay in the ground and this application in particular is incomplete, inadequate - it's a shocking application and the council should not approve it." 

"Not only is there the international issue of climate change, but locally, there is air pollution from the site, we're looking at thousands of HGV movements on these country roads and then passing through Hull or Beverley. The roads are already polluted and congested in many places," he added. 

Rathlin Energy wants to increase the size of the site, test, appraise and produce from two existing wells and drill up to six new wells over a 25 year period.

Rathlin Energy says its plans are aligned with the UK's ambitions for net zero carbon emissions and has previously created a video to explain why the development is needed.

In a statement it said it was the result of 'comprehensive' technical and environmental studies and assessments undertaken by leading industry experts

"Our planning application for the West Newton A site was the result of comprehensive technical and environmental studies and assessments undertaken by leading industry experts, combined with an extensive public consultation exercise. We are pleased that this has been recognised by the planning officers and, at the same time, recognise that ultimately the decision lies with the elected members of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council planning committee.”

The council's Planning Committee will vote on the application on 30 September, with a recommendation for approval.