The application, submitted by UK Oil and Gas Plc (UKOG), proposes the construction, operation and decommissioning of a well site at Arreton for the exploration and appraisal of hydrocarbon minerals – something Mr Seely says is unsuitable and which could jeopardise the Island’s biosphere status.
Mr Seely said the plans would have a negative impact on the environment, increase the Island’s carbon footprint and significantly increase traffic in the area. He also said the plans were visually intrusive and not in line with the commitment the Island made last year when it gained UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status.
He has said:
“It is important that we carefully consider any inward investment into the Island, particularly as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and I recognise that the oil and gas industry is important to the UK, however, it is entirely inappropriate for the Isle of Wight.
“Our Island is 94% rural and 50% AONB, with 28 miles of Heritage Coast, and 395 local wildlife sites. Oil exploration here could threaten this.
“We worked hard to gain UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status last year and we should not jeopardise that. I therefore cannot support plans that could harm the Island’s conservational status. We must look to preserve our environment and keep it safe for future generations.
“The Island has a unique opportunity to pioneer tidal energy, recycle 100% of its own waste, develop a smart grid, and reduce the use of oil-based plastics. We must press on with ideas that make us greener and more sustainable.”
A copy of Bob’s objection is below.
Objection to the construction, operation and decommissioning of a well site for the exploration and appraisal of hydrocarbon minerals, Arreton
Since 2017 I have campaigned to protect our unique and special environment. I am today outlining my opposition to restarting oil exploration on the Island.
The Oil and Gas industry is important to the UK. However, it is not appropriate for the Isle of Wight. Specifically,
- The application is contrary to the “strong links” between the Island Plan Core Strategy (2012) and Eco Island. Eco Island pledged to have the lowest carbon footprint in England by 2020. The Core Strategy plans to “create wealth whilst reducing our carbon footprint”. The application will increase our carbon footprint.
- DM17 of the Island plan plans to “restrict traffic growth by 2.3% per annum”. The site will increase traffic by up to 15 two-way HGV movements and 30 two-way personnel trips per day. It has been recommended for refusal by Island Roads because it is a “hazard to both site and highway users”.
- The Tourism Development Plan used by the Core Strategy observes a demand for “high environmental excellence” and minimisation of greenfield development. The application is visually intrusive, on farmland, and has negative environmental associations.
- In 2019, we became a UN Biosphere, a “learning sit[e] for sustainable development”. Restarting oil exploration does not demonstrate our commitment to this designation.
More generally, we need to preserve our conservational status. Our Island is 94% rural and 50% AONB, with 28 miles of Heritage Coast, and 395 local wildlife sites. We have been celebrated by Tennyson and Keates, settled by Romans. We tread on geology of chalk cliffs and Jurassic coast hundreds of millions of years old. Oil exploration detracts from our status as an environmental hotspot.
Third, we need to make sustainability part of the Island’s identity. The UK was the first to undergo the industrial revolution. We are now the first major economy to aim for net zero. We are embarking on an era of reform: legally binding targets on environmental improvement, biodiversity, air quality and resource efficiency; more powers for local authorities to act; an independent environmental regulator. What we are doing is making a difference – greenhouse emissions are down more than 40% compared to 1990 levels. We have cut sales of plastic bags by 90% since 2015. We will work to avoid all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. The Island has a unique opportunity to pioneer tidal energy, recycle 100% of its own waste, develop a smart grid, and reduce the use of oil-based plastics. We must not put off this action.
Restarting oil exploration on the Island has the potential to harm the Island’s conservational status, economic aims, and identity as a sustainability leader nationally. I therefore oppose this application.