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Oil rig outstaying its welcome? Campaigners say 'leave now'

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An oil company has applied to the Government for an extension to the time its oil rig can drill in Poole Bay. The drilling platform arrived a few weeks ago and is based four miles south of Bournemouth.

Its license allows it to operate until the end of this month, but the oil company Corallian says it now needs longer to complete its works.

However, environmental campaigners say the oil rig is a risk to local wildlife.

Watch this report by Richard Slee:

Dominating Poole Bay, with Bournemouth in the distance, Oil Rig Ensco 72 is protected by a 500 metre exclusion zone, but its what's going on 16 metres below the surface that concerns environmental campaigners.

A well more than 1800 metres deep is being drilled into the sea bed.

The oil company says that regardless of the results of this test drilling, it has no plans to return to this location. It also said it had no plans to drill here beyond the end of February, and yet now, it's seeking permission to stay here in March.

The oil company says that regardless of the results of this test drilling, it has no plans to return to this location. Credit: ITV Meridian
It's a delicate eco-system Credit: ITV Meridian

However, this is a delicate eco-system, and local environmental groups say it wouldn't take much to damage it, if the drilling continues.

Emma Rance, Dorset Wildlife Trust:

This isn't the first time an oil rig has been in Poole Bay.

In the early 90's, there was also test drilling and in 1997 a temporary drilling platform was built on the Purbecks. Neither found enough oil to make it worth wild increasing the output from nearby Wytch Farm.

In the early 90's, there was also test drilling and in 1997 a temporary drilling platform was built on the Purbecks Credit: ITV Meridian

The most geological survey's indicate the area may now be economically viable.

Protestors say this could be the start of an even bigger project.

Alisdair Keddie, Save Our Shores:

Both Bournemouth and Poole Council's objected to the oil rig operating in Poole Bay. Despite numerous requests, no-one from either council was available for interview. Instead they sent a statement:

(They) expect the highest environmental standards and will be monitoring the situation.

– Bournemouth and Poole Councils

The oil company say's it'll leave no trace of its work and all the discharge waste will naturally biodegrade, but now it's departure date is uncertain.