TONIGHT’s refusal to allow UKOG to drill holes on greenfield farmland at Arreton, to look for oil, has been met with delight by the councillor who represent the ward the fields stand in, and the councillor who is responsible for environmental issues.
Here’s what they had to say straight after the meeting at County Hall.
Cllr Suzie Ellis, who represents Arreton, said:
I am absolutely thrilled that the members of the planning committee have unanimously refused this inappropriate application and thank them on behalf of all the residents that have contacted me, as ward member for Central Rural, to express their opposition to the proposal.
Tonight we have sent a strong and clear message that the Isle of Wight can and will lead the way on environmental issues, and that we will protect the integrity of our Biosphere status.
Given the significance of this scheme and how it runs contrary to the government’s climate change, biodiversity and sustainability agenda, in the event of an appeal by the applicant I will be writing to the Secretary of State asking that he “recovers” the decision for his own determination.
It is important that an application that goes to the heart of the government’s policy agenda is decided by those who are politically accountable, just as we were this evening.
I am making this intention clear now, so that the applicant can decide whether pursuing an appeal, of what has been a unanimous refusal this evening, is a worthwhile step.
Isle of Wight Council’s cabinet member for environment and heritage Jonathan Bacon said:
I am very pleased the planning committee voted to reject the application made by UKOG to drill for oil in Arreton.
The proposal was totally and utterly inappropriate for the Island as it ran entirely counter to our status as a UNESCO biosphere, our tourist industry, our Climate Change Policy and all that we love and want to preserve in our local environment.
The argument that new drilling for oil could in anyway stand alongside these things was exposed as wholly without substance.
When asked to explain the economic benefits alluded to by UKOG the planning officers were unable to offer any substantiation or detail.
However, what was made shown and remained unchallenged was that the proposal would, at most, have led to the possibility of just a few days oil production whereas it was clearly established that serious environmental harm would have resulted.
Particularly given the reference to and reliance placed upon our UNESCO Biosphere status, I hope that this evening marks a big step forward in us pursuing and creating a new greener sustainable future for the Island, in which we work more than ever to support and protect what we value for future generations.