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Councillors have criticised the online consultation on a plan which could see oil drilled on the Isle of Wight.

Those not having access to the internet would have to spend £150 on a paper copy of one document relating to the plan.

Due to COVID-19, the government introduced temporary changes to planning legislation which has meant physically looking at planning documents has been stopped with planning offices closed to the public.

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However, 2 councillors are arguing this cuts off members of the public who do not have access to the internet or find it difficult to work the Isle of Wight Council’s planning portal.

Cllr John Medland, ward representative for Freshwater South, said:

“We have lost our right to go to our libraries or to the planning office at Seaclose to study the paper plans and supporting documents. Under this rule, only those with internet access can view these huge technical documents.

“We can no longer attend the parish planning meetings to discuss the application or physically attend the IW Council Planning Committee. We have effectively lost our public right of association to discuss the greatest existentialist threat to the Island since the 1950s plan for a nuclear power station at Newtown Creek.

“Along with Cllr Karl Love, I have asked the administration to postpone the application.

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“My logic is that once this application is accepted, applications for drilling will be easier to pass. Therefore this decision is key.”

However, the council has said it continually reviewed the approaches taken to advertise planning applications throughout the pandemic updating procedures in line with the temporary legislation changes.

An Isle of Wight Council spokesperson said:

“The changes to legislation allowed applications to be consulted upon, without the need for making paper copies of the application available for public inspection.

“The office at Seaclose Park remains closed to the public, as we establish the best way to make the building, alongside other council facilities, safe for all users and the ability to view planning applications will be reviewed with the temporary regulations which are in place until December 2020.”

Cllr Barry Abraham, cabinet member for planning and housing, said:

“We are playing the hand we’ve been dealt. I recognise that many people have views on this application and the wider issues, and we very much welcome comments that raise relevant planning issues on the application.

“Yes, we would like to do more, but we simply do not have the resources to print and distribute hard copies of planning applications upon request”.

A notice at the Arreton site, says paper copies of the environment statement are available for £150 from company, Zetland Group, based in Redcar — or £25 on a CD.

More than 50 planning documents are attached for the application (20/00513/FUL), submitted by UK Oil and Gas to drill exploratory boreholes near Arreton.

An Isle of Wight Council spokesperson said:

“The authority is aware that it has been suggested that it should not consult on [oil drilling] planning application due to concerns around consulting during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Council is complying with the regulations in place, and if it does not advertise and determine a lawfully submitted and validated application within the required determination time, then the applicant could appeal non-determination, with the outcome being the application being determined on the mainland by the Planning Inspectorate.

“The Isle of Wight Council has not stopped receiving written comments on planning applications by post, and all comments can be submitted in the usual way of through the council’s online system (, by email to [email protected] or by post to Planning Services, Seaclose Office, Fairlee Road, Newport, IOW, PO30 2QS.

“All comments received will be made available online, although there will be delay in those being received by post being processed and placed online.”

Comments on the application can be made until 24th July.

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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Should be free. If you are after planning permission then you need to budget for supplying hard copies. £150 is just a way for companies to tell people to ‘go away’ and mind their own. More unacceptable behaviour by big business. We should be taxing more oil endeavours to pay for more greener alternatives. If we invested in renewable tech we could be free of the oil and gas from countries that threaten our security. Instead we have to beg and bow to them like the surfs we are.

Abbey Holmes

Surrey county council today RIGHTLY refused UKOG permission. See article below, causing the UKOG share price to fall by 26% in one day.   This minnow company should something go wrong as can easily happen with drilling, will imo never be able to afford to put right any environmental damage, but OUR council would sell our school children for cash if they could. They had better ensure that UKOG are FULLY insured to cover any such disasters to the main crop growing area on Wight.   Mon, 29th Jun 2020 16:43 RNS Number : 4296R UK Oil & Gas PLC… Read more »


I can see loads of people not being able to submit objections or even praising the application.
As already mentioned, has the company involved have sufficient insurance in place to cover for any environmental disasters?
What would be a suitable price to put things right if it goes wrong?
Will the insurance payments be stopped at anytime during the drilling?
Will the Company suddenly fold and sell it on to another to get round any complications?
Will the Council be notified by the Insurance Company if the drilling company fails to keep up the insurance premiums?


Drilling for oil is far more sensible than building more houses for people the infrastructure can’t cope with

Calum Glenister

Problem is bud, this is not INSTEAD OF but as well as.
Double misery for island residents.

Abbey Holmes

The company UKOG, UK oil and gas shares have lost over 50% of their value in just two days.   At one of their sites, oil has leached into the oil extracted, and presumably visa versa, something if it happened in the main veg growing area on Wight, would be an absolute disaster, as this oil could then contaminate water sources deep underground and ruin water miles away from the drilling site.   As this share has lost so much value, three quarters, in just two days, my concern is, SHOULD something go wrong, will the company have enough funds… Read more »

Nick Black

The office at Seaclose Park remains closed to the public, as we establish the best way to make the building, alongside other council facilities, safe for all users and the ability to view planning applications will be reviewed with the temporary regulations which are in place until December 2020.” This is from the IoW Council who are supposedly able to advise businesses on safe working practices! How about you get your own house in order first?! The Council have had long enough to lean for such eventualities, after-all, a large proportion of their staff already have ‘agile working’, i.e., can… Read more »

isla wight

The councils big green aim is to have a carbon neutral island by 2030 so this won’t happen on a large scale if at all.

Abbey Holmes

Is it as large as their other aim, of gaining as much capital in the coffers thus making pay rises taken from an enlarged pot, not look so bad.

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