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Challenge to oil drilling decision in Lincolnshire's protected area

Challenge to oil drilling decision in Lincolnshire's protected area


A local campaigner contests planning inspector's ruling permitting oil production in Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

A significant challenge has emerged against a planning inspector's decision allowing an oil drilling operation within the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Mathilda Dennis, representing SoS Biscathorpe, has submitted an application seeking permission to contest the ruling, engaging Leigh Day's environmental team for legal support.

The controversy dates back to 2014 when initial permission was granted for oil production at Biscathorpe. Despite a failed exploratory drilling in 2018, an application for further drilling and potential production for 15 years, if oil is discovered, was initially declined by Lincolnshire County Council in 2021. However, after an appeal by Egdon Resources UK Ltd, the planning inspector overturned this decision in November 2023.

Mathilda Dennis' challenge is based on several points, including an argument that the decision failed to adequately consider environmental impact regulations and the downstream greenhouse gas emissions linked to burning the oil. Additionally, concerns were raised about misinterpretation of National Planning Policy Framework guidance and inadequate assessments of alternative energy solutions.

Comments from CPRE The Countryside Charity, the Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service, and Natural England stressed the importance of the site's AONB location, with 219 out of 222 public comments opposing the development due to climate concerns.

The inspector acknowledged the site's unsuitability but justified the decision based on national interests regarding oil production.

Mathilda Dennis anticipates a ruling in the new year regarding the application's acceptance for a statutory review.

Supporters of the challenge, including Dr. Andrew Kythreotis of Lincoln Climate Commission and Amanda Suddaby from SoS Biscathorpe, criticized the decision, emphasizing the need to transition away from fossil fuels in alignment with global consensus on climate action.

Leigh Day solicitor Julia Eriksen emphasized the harm to the AONB, stating their client's belief that the inspector's decision was flawed. The legal team aims to support the fight against oil development through this claim for statutory review, with counsel from Estelle Dehon and Dr. Lois Lane of Cornerstone.

SoS Biscathorpe has initiated a crowdfunding effort to aid their legal challenge against the oil drilling decision.